Primas

Two teenage cousins in Argentina come of age together, overcoming the heinous acts of violence that interrupted their childhoods.
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Defiant Lives

DEFIANT LIVES is a triumphant film that traces the origins of the world-wide disability rights movement.
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Shadow Girl

SHADOW GIRL is the extraordinary story of a filmmaker struggling with the prospect of losing her vision.
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The Same Difference

THE SAME DIFFERENCE is a compelling documentary about lesbians who discriminate against other lesbians based on gender roles. Director Nneka Onuorah takes an in-depth look at the internalized hetero-normative gender roles that have become all too familiar within the African American lesbian and bisexual community. Onuorah shows how these behaviors reproduce the homophobic oppression and masculine privilege of the straight world, while looking for solutions in compelling discussions with community members. Self-identified studs—and the women who love them—discuss hypocrisy in terms of gender roles, performative expectations, and the silent disciplining that occurs between community members. This film features many queer celebrities, including actress Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from the critically acclaimed HBO drama The Wire, and Lea DeLaria from Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, living daily with opinions about how identity should be portrayed. Onuorah's engaging documentary shines a light on the relationships and experiences within the queer black female community, intersecting race, gender and sexuality. Required viewing for Women’s, Gender and Queer Studies.
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On Beauty

From Emmy®-nominated IN THE FAMILY filmmaker Joanna Rudnick and Chicago’s Kartemquin Films comes a story about challenging norms and redefining beauty. ON BEAUTY follows fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, who left the fashion world when he grew frustrated with having to work within the restrictive parameters of the industry’s standard of beauty. After a chance encounter with a young woman who had the genetic condition albinism, Rick re-focused his lens on those too often relegated to the shadows to change the way we see and experience beauty. At the center of ON BEAUTY are two of Rick's photo subjects: Sarah and Jayne. In eighth grade Sarah left public school because she was bullied so harshly for the birthmark on her face and brain. Jayne lives with albinism in Eastern Africa where society is blind to her unique health and safety needs and where witch doctors hunt people with her condition to sell their body parts. We follow Rick as he uses his lens to challenge convention and media’s narrow scope of with the help of two extraordinary women.
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Inside Her Sex

While we live in a highly sexualized society, the messaging around female sexuality is distorted and rife with shame. What women should look like, who women should want, what women should desire...in fact, who women should be, is dictated to us from screens and pages and people. INSIDE HER SEX is a thought-provoking, feature-length documentary that explores female sexuality and shame through the eyes and experiences of three women from different walks of life, each brave enough to chart her own course of sexual discovery: Elle Chase, a popular sex blogger, Candida Royalle, the creator of Femme Productions Inc., a feminist, adult film company designed to speak with a woman’s voice and Samantha Allen, the ex-devout Mormon and current gender, sex, and tech writer for The Daily Beast. Through varied, candid and intensely personal interviews, INSIDE HER SEX will delve to the core of these three women and their sexuality, beginning a much needed conversation around female sexuality and shame. Essential viewing for Gender and Sexuality Studies.
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I Am a Girl

There is a group of people in the world today who are more persecuted than anyone else, but they are not political or religious activists. They are girls. Being born a girl means you are more likely to be subjected to violence, disease, poverty and disadvantage than any other group on Earth. In I AM A GIRL, we meet 14-year-old Kimsey from Cambodia, forced to sell her virginity at 12; Aziza from Afghanistan, who will be shot if she goes to school; Breani, a teen living in a ghetto of NYC and dreaming of stardom; Katie from Australia, who is recovering from a suicide attempt; Habiba from Cameroon, betrothed to a man 20 years her senior; and Manu from Papua New Guinea, about to become a mother at 14 following her first sexual encounter. As they come of age in the way their culture dictates, we see remarkable heart-warming stories of resilience, bravery and humor. Nominated for four Australian Academy Awards including Best Documentary and Best Director, I AM A GIRL is an inspirational feature length documentary that paints a clear picture of the reality of what it means to be a girl in the 21st century. I AM A GIRL provides practical and ready-to-use resources for educators to address human rights and social justice issues affecting girls in the classroom. Girl Be Heard Education Guides for I AM A GIRL are three units of 25 total lesson plans aligned with US Common Core Curriculum (grades 9-12), to provide a practical and ready-to-use resource for teachers to address human rights and social justice issues affecting girls around the world. Girl Be Heard Education Guides for I AM A GIRL help teachers bring important human rights topics and a future of gender equality to the classroom. For more information, go to: http://girlbeheard.org/i-am-a-girl-education-guides.
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Jasad & The Queen of Contradictions

Lebanese poet and writer Joumana Haddad has stirred controversy in the Middle East for having founded Jasad (the Body), an erotic quarterly Arabic-language magazine. Dedicated to the body’s art, science and literature, Jasad is one of the first of its kind in the Arab world and has caused a big debate in the Arabic region not only for its explicit images, erotic articles and essays on sex in Arabic but also for the fact that an Arab woman is behind it all. Despite Beirut’s external appearance of freedom portrayed through its infamous nightlife and women’s stylish and open revealing fashion sense, this is all still taboo. JASAD & THE QUEEN OF CONTRADICTIONS, by Lebanese director Amanda Homsi-Ottosson, tackles the subject of sexuality in Lebanon, giving insight on the rare use of the Arabic language to discuss sex and erotica. Different views regarding the magazine and sexuality are also given by the head of a women’s rights organization, a sexual health educator and a doctor who performs hymen reconstruction surgeries. Despite the debates, the threats and the lack of funds, one passionate woman shows no sign of slowing down her small steps towards a “sexual revolution” in the Arab world.
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Water Children

In this acclaimed, hauntingly beautiful film, director Aliona van der Horst follows the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life—sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. When Mukaiyama recognized that her childbearing years were ending, she created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan, constructing what she calls a cathedral, out of 12,000 white silk dresses. While Mukaiyama’s own mesmerizing music provides a haunting backdrop to the film, her installation elicits confessions from its normally reticent Japanese visitors, many of whom have never seen art before—and in moving scenes they open up about previously taboo subjects. Mukaiyama’s courageous approach to a subject that remains unspoken in many cultures is explored with an elegance and sophistication that deepens our understanding of the relationship between body and mind.
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Helen Lee Compilation

Helen Lee’s internationally acclaimed short films are now available for purchase in a 3-DVD set. This compilation includes SALLY’S BEAUTY SPOT (1990), MY NIAGARA (1992) and SUBROSA (2000). (12 mins) SALLY'S BEAUTY SPOT - A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity. (40 mins) MY NIAGARA - Grasping the texture of half-expressed desire, this beautifully drawn drama evokes the complex dislocations of an Asian American woman. Shadowed by the death of her mother, Julie Kumagai's life with her widower father is marked by pained, turbulent exchanges. Indifferent to a break-up with her boyfriend and the lure of a long-planned trip, she finds some refuge in her workplace where meets Tetsuro, a young Korean man newly emigrated from Japan who is obsessed with all things American. But together they discover no easy resolutions. MY NIAGARA was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. (22 mins) SUBROSA traces a young woman's journey to Korea, the land of her birth, to find the mother she's never known. This exquisitely crafted drama probes the idealized, often false constructions of cultural and maternal identities wrought by the adoptee's return. SUBROSA tracks the unnamed heroine from a sterile adoption agency office to seedy bars and motel rooms on neon strips, then to a stark U.S. army camp town and the bustling flower markets of Seoul. Though her path to self-destruction and ultimate self-revelation ironically and tragically mirrors that of her imagined biological mother, the past remains elusive to her, the secret intact.
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The Fat Body (In)Visible

"While I have all the confidence in the world, I’m told every day that my body is revolting." Jessica turns heads in the street—for both her striking fashion, and larger than average body. She has learned to ignore the frequent insults which come her way, but it has not been an easy journey. Keena is the heaviest she has ever been—and the happiest. Confident and attractive, she decided long ago that dieting is not for her. Keena and Jessica—and filmmaker Margitte Kristjansson—are body acceptance activists, working to celebrate body diversity and the right to be happy whatever your body size. Brought together by social media, they use the blogosphere strategically to make their bodies visible in a world that still thinks that fat women should hide away. In this insightful short documentary, Keena and Jessica speak candidly about growing up overweight, and the size discrimination they have faced. Their stories detail the intricacies of identity and the intersection of race and gender with fatness— and how social media has helped this community enact visibility on their own terms.
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Girl Power: All Dolled Up

This thought-provoking short film examines the notion that “girl power” has been co opted by commerce to create a feminist construct that is ultimately damaging to girls’ identity and development. In a range of diverse, revealing interviews with girls as young as seven, we witness the power of the popular media in developing brand loyalty and image self-consciousness. Complementing the girls’ testimony are numerous pop culture examples, as well as academics illuminating how the concept of girl power has been used to bring in big money by focusing on appearance. From Dora the Explorer’s grooming aids to Disney’s Princesses line to the highly sexualized Bratz dolls, the message is clear: girl power means being attractive. As one particularly astute young interviewee puts it, “Somewhere along the way girls get the idea ‘okay, I’m supposed to look hot every time I leave my house.’” GIRL POWER is critical viewing for women’s studies, advertising and mass communications courses, educators or anyone who works with young girls.
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Sir: Just a Normal Guy

Screened to acclaim at Gay & Lesbian Film Festivals worldwide and LBGT events across the nation, this candid and courageous portrait of more than 15-months in the female-to-male (FTM) transition of Jay Snider explores both the emotional and physical changes of this profound experience--beginning prior to hormones and concluding after top surgery. Footage shot before and after the surgery captures dramatic physical transitions, while intimate interviews with Jay, his ex-husband, his best friend and his lesbian-identified partner aptly capture the emotional and psychological shifts that occur during the process. With support from those closest to him, Jay’s experience is remarkably positive, though not without conflict. During the course of the film, he renews long-distant ties with his brother, but also faces permanent estrangement from his parents. SIR is an in-depth and humanizing exploration of the challenges, discrimination, and alienation faced by transsexuals. Jay’s conflicted feelings around queer identification are portrayed along with his significant other’s continued identification as lesbian. A much-needed look at FTM transition, the film demonstrates both the fluidity of sexual identification and that love and human resilience can triumph over deep-rooted differences.
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Orchids: My Intersex Adventure

Gen X filmmaker Phoebe Hart always knew she was different growing up – but she didn’t know why. This award-winning documentary traces Phoebe’s voyage of self-discovery as an intersex person, a group of conditions formerly termed hermaphroditism. Learning only in her teens that she was born with 46XY (male) chromosomes, Hart now seeks to understand her own story and the stories of others affected by this complex and often shameful syndrome. With help from sister Bonnie (born with the same condition) and support from partner James, Hart drives across Australia, interviewing individuals whose struggles and victories mirror and differ from her own. Some advocate systemic change ending shame and controversial genital surgeries, while others debate coming out or staying closeted with a stigmatized secret. Questioning rigidly defined constructs of gender, sexuality, and normality, often with lively good humor, ORCHIDS is the first film to look at intersex from a positive perspective. Its engaging portrait of survival, courage and reconciliation will speak to a variety of audiences and spark lively discussion about what it means to be perceived as "different."
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Latching On

After filmmaker Katja Esson’s sister gave birth in Germany, she was able to breastfeed her baby anywhere and at any time. Returning home to New York, Esson found that breastfeeding was rarely practiced and largely unseen. Academy Award® Nominee Esson (Ferry Tales) turned her quirky eye on the subject and set out to learn why this was so. Her wide-ranging, frequently funny documentary highlights the intersecting economic, social, and cultural forces that have helped replace mother’s milk with formula produced by a billion dollar industry, and reveals the challenges and rewards for women who buck the trend. Latching On draws on lively first-hand accounts from mothers of diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds, as well as candid observations by pediatricians, healthcare providers, lactation specialists, and the proprietor of New York’s first breastfeeding boutique. Including data about paid maternity leave, hospital post-delivery policies, and workplace accommodations for nursing mothers, the film compares current US practices with standards adopted elsewhere. Tensions around public breastfeeding and "breast is best" promotion campaigns highlight society's perceived interest in regulating women's reproductive behavior, as well as the power of culture to assign sexual and moral meaning to mothers' bodies. Entertaining and insightful, Latching On is an important analysis of the politics of breastfeeding, illuminating the complexities behind a simple, natural act.
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Wired for Sex, Lies and Power Trips

An inside look at the culture of sexual harassment and bullying widespread among many teens today, this unique and compelling program examines the price that adolescents, especially girls, pay to be cool, hip and popular in our brave new wired world. Questioning and confronting their own and each other’s stereotypes and assumptions, three different groups of culturally diverse teenagers share personal stories of navigating their hyper-sexualized, high-tech environment, where the online posting of racy photos, raunchy videos, and explicit gossip and lies, is as commonplace as bombardment by provocative media messages that degrade and objectify women. In its unflinching exposé, the film takes us on a journey that includes candid personal interviews and diary excerpts, images from computer screens and youth nightclubs, and clips from short fictional films that the three group’s members have made about sexual and social pressures on their lives. Told through the authentic voices of teens, this essential tool for promoting awareness and change is must-see viewing for school and youth groups, media studies and women’s studies educators, educators, counselors, parents, and health care professionals.
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Arresting Ana

Sarah, a French college student runs a “pro-Ana” blog, part of a global online community of young women sharing tips on living with anorexia. Valerie Boyer is a passionate French National Assembly legislator proposing a groundbreaking bill to ban these online forums, issuing hefty fines and two-year prison sentences to their members. Eye-opening and extremely timely, ARRESTING ANA is the first film on a burgeoning movement promoting self-starvation. Pro-Ana websites are in countries around the world, but France is the first to suggest regulating them. Combining in-depth interviews of medical and academic experts with video diaries by Sarah— for whom “Ana”, short for anorexia, is a support system, friend, and motivation to stay alive—ARRESTING ANA offers unprecedented access into anorexia’s hidden underground while seeking effective solutions to ending this serious disease. This well-made documentary, which features an engrossing soundtrack and pro-Ana sites’ shocking quotes and images, is crucial for students and teachers of media studies. It also provides important insight for psychologists, social workers, sociologists, and educators on who controls women’s body issues, how young people interpret eating disorders today, and how legal and free-speech issues are contested in a new media landscape.
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Mrs. Goundo's Daughter

Mrs. Goundo is fighting to remain in the United States. But it’s not just because of the ethnic conflict and drought that has plagued her native Mali. Threatened with deportation, her two-year-old daughter could be forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), like 85 percent of women and girls in Mali. Using rarely cited grounds for political asylum, Goundo must convince an immigration judge that her daughter is in danger. Sensitive and moving, this important film reveals how women are profoundly affected by the legal struggles surrounding immigration. As issues of asylum, international law and human rights collide with FGM and its devastating health consequences, filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater travel between an FGM ceremony in a Malian village, where dozens of girls are involved, to the West African expatriate community of Philadelphia, where Mrs. Goundo challenges beliefs and battles the American legal system for her child’s future.
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A Knock Out

Boxing champion Michele Aboro grew up in South London, where life for a girl was never easy, let alone for a mixed-race lesbian girl. Thanks to her tenacious spirit and an uncanny talent for combat sports, she put her difficult past behind her and managed to sign a contract with the biggest boxing promoter in Europe. She won all 21 fights, 18 of them with a knockout - an exceptional achievement in women’s boxing. But despite her spectacular record in the ring, her career came to a sudden halt when her promoter broke her contract under the belief that she was not "promotable." Refusing to vamp up her image and pose naked in magazines, this undefeated world champion was abandoned by an industry more interested in selling sex than sport. A KNOCK OUT interweaves Aboro’s personal story with interviews with boxers whose wild success strikes a painful contrast with Aboro's struggles. Searching for logic behind Aboro’s case, this poignant documentary captures a universal story of fighting for one's identity and offers a probing look at the intersection of gender, ethnicity, sexuality and the increased commercialization of women's sports.
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Buoyant

Julie Wyman’s ebullient experimental documentary intertwines the story of the Padded Lilies, a troupe of fat synchronized swimmers, Archimedes, the Greek mathematician obsessed with floating bodies, and the inventor of the “Drystroke Swimulator” to investigate, proclaim and celebrate the fact that fat floats! As the Padded Lillies prepare for their appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", BUOYANT follows their rigorous training and strategizing as they promote their message of body-acceptance, fat-empowerment, and fitness at any size. A school-marmish voiceover moves on to tell the story of Archimedes, classical Greek mathematician and discoverer of pi, as he tackles one of his more difficult problems: how to measure the volume of an irregularly shaped object. The final vignette, performed by Wyman herself, captures the trials and tribulations of the inventor at work on the “Drystroke Swimulator” (patent pending) -- a contraption designed to allow its user to swim outside of water. Giddy and irreverent, moving fluidly between color and black and white, video and film, handheld and locked-down camera styles, Buoyant draws attention to its own surface and leaves us with the exuberant possibility of a fat body that literally and culturally rises, like cream, to the top.
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Girl Wrestler

GIRL WRESTLER follows 13-year-old Tara Neal, a Texas teenager who upsets traditional expectations by insisting that girls and boys should be able to wrestle on the same mat. Zander follows Tara through a crucial period in her wrestling career—the last year that she is allowed to wrestle boys under state guidelines. When Tara enters high school, her opportunities to compete will virtually disappear because so few girls wrestle. Over the course of the season, she deals with family conflicts, pressures to cut weight and fierce policy debates over Title IX. Tara represents a modern kind of girlhood, one that physically embodies feminism by literally placing girls into grappling competition with boys. This eye-opening film shows us how the gender roles we have constructed affect real adolescents as they crash against the boundaries of those norms. Ultimately, Tara’s story is a direct and immediate chronicle of such broader cultural issues as the social construction of masculinity and femininity, athleticism and eating disorders, gender discrimination in organized athletics, and the meaning and value of sport in American culture.
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Tomboys!

Are tomboys tamed once they grow up? This lively and inspiring documentary explodes that archaic myth with the stories of proud tomboys of all ages: African-American teenager Jay Gillespie; Massachusetts firefighter Tracy Driscoll, lesbian artist Nancy Brooks Brody and the inimitable political activist Doris Haddock, aka “Granny D”, whose walk across America in support of campaign finance reform has gained global attention. Interviews with these feisty women are intercut with personal photographs and archival footage to celebrate tomboys of all ages. Exploring the myriad ways gender identity is constructed from a very young age, TOMBOYS makes the connections between rebel girl and spirited women gloriously clear. With additional commentary by girls’ studies pioneer Carol Gilligan, these tales of energy and enterprise are a revelation to us all.
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The Day I Will Never Forget

THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET is a gripping feature documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Kim Longinotto that examines the practice of female genital mutilation in Kenya and the pioneering African women who are bravely reversing the tradition. In this epic work, women speak candidly about the practice and explain its cultural significance within Kenyan society. From gripping testimonials by young women who share the painful aftermath of their trauma to interviews with elderly matriarchs who stubbornly stand behind the practice, Longinotto paints a complex portrait of the current polemics and conflicts that have allowed this procedure to exist well into modern times. Demystifying the African tradition of female circumcision, Longinotto presents Nurse Fardhosa, a woman who is single-handedly reversing the ritual of female circumcision one village at a time by educating communities about its lasting emotional and physical scars. Also profiled are an inspiring group of runaway girls who are seeking a court injunction to stop their parents from forcing them to go through with the practice. Through their words the full implications of breaking with tradition are made clear, as is the incredible courage of the women and girls who risk social ostracism by taking a stand against the practice.
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Through the Skin

In this highly personal experimental autobiography, emerging filmmaker Elliot Montague presents a daring meditation on the experience and trauma of growing up androgynous. Incorporating home movies with vintage health public service announcements, along with his own performance pieces, Elliot jarringly discloses the conflicts between his changing female body with that of his gender and sexual identity. Through a montage of images set against a dissonant soundtrack, he speaks about the misunderstandings and tensions his identity struggle caused his family and the depression that later resulted. In scenes where Elliot binds his breasts, he painfully discloses how his parents sent him to a psychologist who diagnosed him with bi-polar disorder – a diagnosis that later proved to be incorrect. Exploring the complexities and implications of feeling androgynous in a female body, THROUGH THE SKIN presents more than a personal testimony on the transgender experience, it provokes universal questions on the meaning of gender.
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Amazonia

In this highly personal and visually evocative testimonial, critically acclaimed South Asian filmmaker Nandini Sikand poignantly presents her sister’s triumphal recovery from the emotional and physical scars of breast cancer. Lyrically incorporating poetry, experimental video and Super-8 montage, this moving piece looks at the myth of Amazonian women - warriors who were said to have cut off their right breast to become better archers - and compares their legendary battles to the war being waged against breast cancer. As Sikand’s sister reads passages describing her fight with the disease, the geography of her body is explored and compared to the scarred landscape of the urban environment. Traversing the pulsating and dizzying streets, the city and body become one to highlight women’s lives as triumphant urban warriors. Moving and inspiring, this short experimental film is a tribute to all women who have struggled with breast cancer.
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Africa, Africas

A rare collection from the emerging voices of African documentary filmmaking, this unique series daringly explores the social and cultural realities experienced in Africa today – including the infiltration of Western beauty standards, territorial displacement and high unemployment. FANTACOCA by Agnes Ndibi (23 minutes) presents the disturbing cultural phenomenon of skin bleaching in Cameroon and the challenge it is now posing on notions of black pride and identity. THE RIVER BETWEEN US by Maji-da Abdi (18 minutes) documents the alarming effects of war on a community of Ethiopian women and children who were forcibly relocated into refugee camps. LAAFI BALA by Fanta Regina Nacro (20 minutes) demonstrates the glaring causes of wide-spread unemployment and poverty in Burkina Faso, where few institutional resources and government support are available, and the debilitating effects this is having on women and youth.
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My Left Breast

“Every once in a while someone comes up with a film that sends us a clear signal that it's time to re-evaluate our lives. The film MY LEFT BREAST is not just for women living with breast cancer--it's for everyone.” – Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Incorporating a unique blend of wit, wisdom and resilience, filmmaker Gerry Rogers bravely recounts her story of breast cancer survival to share with the world that life, indeed, can continue with full force and vigor. Shortly after being diagnosed at age 42, Rogers began to document her ordeal on camera in an attempt to confront her own questions and fears about breast cancer. Rather than present a somber and morose meditation on this difficult experience, she decides to invoke humor to frankly reflect on the meaning of this disease on her life, as well as on the lives of her friends and family. The result is a one-of-kind approach to positively coping with a potentially fatal disease. Rather than merely chronicling how one copes with an infirmity, MY LEFT BREAST serves as a model for overcoming every challenge and obstacle in life with clarity and honesty. In the same vein as the most highly regarded films on health, such as COMPLAINTS OF A DUTIFUL DAUGHTER, this powerful film intimately embraces the emotional challenges of disease, demonstrates acceptance and, above all, affirms life.
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Filming Desire:

“In this bold documentary Marie Mandy asks the question: how do women directors film love, desire, and, especially, sexuality? In rare interviews with many of the leading women directors working in the world today – including Sally Potter, Agnès Varda, Catherine Breillat, Doris Dörrie, Deepa Mehta, Moufida Tlatli, Safi Faye, and Jane Campion – FILMING DESIRE: A JOURNEY THROUGH WOMEN'S CINEMA directly engages the sexual politics of cinematographic choice. Powerfully illustrated with film clips from their own work, the directors discuss the reality of an explicit women’s point of view, the possibility of a women’s cinematic language, and the desire in their films to ‘fantasize and dream a new image of themselves’. While discussing how their depictions of sexuality and relationships are correctives, they also reflect on the sexual differences in selection of image, shot, and story. The film also provides a virtual anthology of the debates about the body, sexuality, power, and passion one sees in contemporary feminist and film theory: the body in representation and image; as a subject of censorship; as the vehicle of desire and love; as the contested ground of cinematic production; and as part of women’s identity and voice. Explicit, funny and beautifully edited, FILMING DESIRE weaves an intriguing essay that is international in scope and reflective of the great diversity of women filmmakers. Essential viewing for classes in women’s studies, film studies, sexuality, body image, and feminist theory.” – Joseph Boles, Visiting Scholar, Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr
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Writing Desire

"Ursula Biemann’s WRITING DESIRE is a video essay on the new dream screen of the Internet and how it impacts on the global circulation of women’s bodies from the third world to the first world. Although under-age Philippine 'pen pals' and post-Soviet mail-order brides have been part of the transnational exchange of sex in the post-colonial and post-Cold War marketplace of desire before the digital age, the Internet has accelerated these transactions. Biemann provides her viewers with a thoughtful meditation on the obvious political, economic and gender inequalities of these exchanges by simulating the gaze of the Internet shopper looking for the imagined docile, traditional, pre-feminist, but Web-savvy mate. WRITING DESIRE delights in implicating the viewer in the new voyeurism and sexual consumerism of the Web. However, it never fails to challenge pat assumptions about the impossibility for resistance and the absolute victimization of women who dare to venture out of the third world and onto the Internet to look for that very obscure object of desire promised by the men of the West. This film will promote lively discussion on third world women, the sex industry, mail order brides, racism and feminist backlashes in the West, and on women’s sexuality, desire, and new technologies." --Gina Marchetti, Ithaca College
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Gaea Girls

"This fascinating film follows the physically grueling and mentally exhausting training regimen of several young wanna-be GAEA GIRLS, a group of Japanese women wrestlers. The idea of them may seem like a total oxymoron in a country where women are usually regarded as docile and subservient. However, in training and in the arena, the female wrestlers depicted in this film are just as violent as any member of the World Wrestling Federation, and the blood that’s drawn is very real indeed. One recruit, Takeuchi, endures ritual humiliation not seen on screen since the boot camp sequences of FULL METAL JACKET. In DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE, Kim Longinotto cinematically explored the previously unexplored world of the Tehran divorce courts. Working with co-director Jano Williams, Longinotto has been given access to shoot an insider’s verité account of this closely guarded universe." - Chicago Film Festival
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A Boy Named Sue

Julie Wyman's compelling documentary chronicles the transformation of a transsexual named Theo from a woman to a man over the course of six years. The film successfully captures Theo's physiological and psychological changes during the process, as well as their effects on his lesbian lover and community of close friends. Taking full advantage of the unlimited access she received into an extraordinarily personal process, Wyman carefully composes a moving story about gender identity, relationships, and how even things that seem permanent can change. "A BOY NAMED SUE is one of the best videos to date on female-to-male transsexual experience. Wyman spent six years taping Sue's transformation into Theo and then organized a huge archive of material into a moving, informative and smart rendering of what a difference sex reassignment surgeries can make not only to the transsexual himself but also to all those in his immediate circle. Theo is a great subject and Wyman is a talented and imaginative documentarian. If you are looking for a sensitive and sophisticated representation of transsexual experience, look no further." Judith Halberstam, University of California, San Diego
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Covered: The Hejab in Cairo, Egypt

Just over a decade ago it was hard to find women on the streets of Cairo who veiled, a custom that their forebearers struggled to overthrow at the beginning of the twentieth century. But today, many Muslim women in Egypt wear a head scarf called the hejab, and in more extreme cases they cover their entire faces. This absorbing documentary offers a rare opportunity to examine the restoration of veiling and the reasons for its pervasiveness through the eyes of Egyptian women. In unique interviews with women of different ages and backgrounds, COVERED reveals that Islamic tradition, religious fundamentalism, and growing nationalism are not solely responsible for decisions to wear the hejab. Diverse social, economic and political factors, as well as personal preferences, often play prominent roles. As timely as it is compelling, the film shows how complex causes account for a phenomenon that is poorly understood outside the Muslim world.
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Black Women On: The Light, Dark Thang

BLACK WOMEN ON: THE LIGHT, DARK THANG explores the politics of color within the African-American community. Women representing a variety of hues--from honey-vanilla to brown-sugar chocolate--speak candidly about the longstanding "caste system" that permeates black society. These women share provocative, heart-wrenching personal stories about how being too light or too dark has profoundly influenced their life and relationships--from childhood on and throughout their adult years. Originating in a culture of slavery, the "light, dark thang" still persists. Even today it haunts black women's individual and collective memories. Both entertaining and transformative viewing, BLACK WOMEN ON: THE LIGHT, DARK THANG combines personal interviews and historical footage with literary and dramatic vignettes.
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Black, Bold and Beautiful: Black Women's Hair

Afros, braids or corn rows--hairstyles have always carried a social message, and few issues cause as many battles between black parents and their daughters. To "relax" one's hair into straight tresses or to leave it "natural" inevitably raises questions of conformity and rebellion, pride and identity. Today, trend-setting teens happily reinvent themselves on a daily basis, while career women strive for the right "professional" image, and other women go "natural" as a symbol of comfort in their Blackness. Filmmaker Nadine Valcin meets a diverse group of black women who reveal how their hairstyles relate to their lives and life choices. BLACK, BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL celebrates the bonds formed as women attend to each other's hair while exploring how everyday grooming matters tap into lively debates about self-determination and society's perceptions of beauty.
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Lockin’ Up

When Jamaican-born filmmaker T. Nicole Atkinson threw away her comb to let her hair coil into dreadlocks, she was forced to challenge both society’s and her own conflicted notions of beauty. Her story and those of other African Americans who have chosen to ‘lock up’ are wittily chronicled in this award-winning, entertaining film. Anecdotes, historical data, groit performances, and hair tips mingle in a survey of the origins and cultural significance of dreadlocks, including the stereotypes which mirror the racism inherent in Western standards of beauty. T. Nicole Atkinson is the co-producer of the late Marlon Riggs’ acclaimed documentary, BLACK IS...BLACK AINT.
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Woman Being

In a critical examination of changing concepts of beauty and sexuality in modern China, WOMAN BEING illustrates how a flood of Western pop culture is adversely affecting women's expectations and self-worth. Revisiting her hometown Chengdu after a long absence,filmmaker Wen-Jie Qin traces the impact of a newly booming beauty industry in a country where thirty years ago women were beat up for wearing makeup. Combining interviews and footage from glamour photo studios and television, WOMAN BEING explores the rise of a new super-feminine, highly sexualized ideal. "This hard-nosed look at women in contemporary China makes a persuasive case for how the economies of pleasure, beauty, and consumption are transacted through exploiting women's bodies and images. It provides a sobering prognosis of what 'freedom' might mean for women in China today." - Marina Heung, Baruch College, CUNY
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Hair Piece

An animated satire on the question of self image for African American women living in a society where beautiful hair is viewed as hair that blows in the wind and lets you be free. Lively tunes and witty narration accompany a quick-paced inventory of relaxers, gels and curlers. Such rituals are all-too familiar to African American women-and indeed to all women confronted with an unattainable ideal of beauty. This short film has become essential for discussions of racism, African American cinema and empowerment. Used by hundreds of groups as diverse as museums, churches, hospitals and hair stylists.
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Cycles

Rasheeda Allen is waiting for her period, a state of anticipation familiar to all women. Drawing on Caribbean folklore, this exuberant experimental drama uses animation and live action to discover a film language unique to African American women. The multilayered soundtrack combines a chorus of women's voices with the music of Africa and the diaspora-including Miriam Makeba, acappella singers from Haiti and trumpetiste Clora Bryant.
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Two Lies

Doris Chu, a recently divorced Chinese American woman, has plastic surgery to make her eyes rounder. From her teenage daughter Mei's perspective, her mother's two eyes equal two lies. When the family journeys to a desert resort during Doris' recuperation, a series of revelations and bitter confrontations erupt. This beautiful black and white drama is a poignant study of generational conflict and the struggle for identity in a world of hybrid cultures.
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Sally's Beauty Spot

A large black mole above an Asian woman's breast serves as a metaphor for cultural and racial difference in this engaging experimental film. Offscreen women's voices and scenes from THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG parallel and counterpoint Sally's own interracial relationships and emerging self-awareness. A provocative and stylish meditation on Asian femininity.
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I, Doll

There are more Barbie Dolls* in the U.S. than human beings. Barbie was fashioned after a German prostitute doll named "Lilli." These are just two of the many Barbie facts revealed in this hilarious documentary on the Barbie phenomenon. Interviews with adoring fans as well as culturally diverse critics of Barbie's unrealistic body image for women, express feelings, both pro and con, about the 6-ounces of plastic that became a national icon.
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Stigmata

STIGMATA is a riveting look at body modification such as tattooing, cutting, piercing and branding, practices which are becoming increasingly popular amongst women. Although these activities are considered radical, the film suggests that they are no more physically radical than cosmetic surgery; and these women are transforming their bodies against conventional stereotypes of femininity rather than to conform to them. STIGMATA explores concepts of beauty, self-determination and the outer limits of female sexuality. Please note that STIGMATA includes some extremely explicit footage.
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Perfect Image?

Bright and imaginative in its approach to its subject, PERFECT IMAGE? exposes stereotypical images of Black women and explores women's own ideas of self worth. Using two actresses who constantly change their personae, the film poses questions about how Black women see themselves and each other and the pitfalls that await those who internalize the search for the "perfect image"!
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Trick or Drink

Vanalyne Green's childhood world, growing up with alcoholic parents, is recreated through crayon drawings, family albums, excerpts from her adolescent diary and her interpretation of subsequent events in her life-including her own bulimia and her relationships with men.
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Your Name in Cellulite

A wickedly funny satire about the disparity between a woman's natural beauty and the ideal promoted by the mega-billion dollar advertising industry, this animated film shows us how far we will go to change the shape of our bodies to meet the demands of an impossible image. But the picture-perfect exterior can be maintained by our heroine only if she restrains her body's natural spontaneity. YOUR NAME IN CELLULITE visually ponders at what point the body will say "Enough is enough!" and take matters into its own hands.
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Acting Our Age: A film About Women Growing Old

An invigorating antidote for American culture's one-dimensional image of older women, this classic film offers empowering insights about women and aging for every generation. Personal portraits of six ordinary women in their 60's and 70's who share their lives. In candid interviews that tackle a range of thought-provoking topics, including self-image, sexuality, financial concerns, dying, and changing family relationships, members of the group display both a vibrant strength of spirit and inspiring zest for life.
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The Body Beautiful

This bold, stunning exploration of a white mother who undergoes a radical mastectomy and her Black daughter who embarks on a modeling career reveals the profound effects of body image and the strain of racial and sexual identity on their charged, intensely loving bond. At the heart of Onwurah’s brave excursion into her mother’s scorned sexuality is a provocative interweaving of memory and fantasy. The filmmaker plumbs the depths of maternal strength and daughterly devotion in an unforgettable tribute starring her real-life mother, Madge Onwurah.
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And Still I Rise

Inspired by a poem by Maya Angelou, this powerful film explores images of Black women in the media, focusing on the myths surrounding Black women's sexuality. Like COLOR ADJUSTMENT, in which Marlon Riggs looked at images of Black people on television, AND STILL I RISE uses images from popular culture to reveal the way the media misrepresents Black women's sexuality. A combination of fear and fascination produces a stereotypical representation which in turn impacts on the real lives of Black women. AND STILL I RISE intercuts historical and media images with hard-hitting contemporary views of women of African heritage as they struggle to create a new and empowered perspective. Both a celebration and a critique, AND STILL I RISE is essential viewing for those interested in African American studies, women's studies, media studies and popular culture. From the director of THE BODY BEAUTIFUL and COFFEE COLORED CHILDREN.
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Miss Universe in Peru

Shot during the Miss Universe contest hosted by Peru in 1982, this documentary juxtaposes the glamour of the pageant with the realities of Peruvian women’s lives, while providing a critique of multinational corporate interest in the universal commodification of women. Grupo Chaski is a collective engaged in video production in Peru and is deeply committed to women’s equality and participation in society.
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