Women involved in the Second Wave Feminist movement in the USA reflect on their experiences as self-identified feminists. The documentary is centered around a 1977 photobook containing photographs of each woman as a young adult and is crosscut with candid interviews with the same women four decades later. The women highlight the impact their movement had on history while addressing the shortcomings of the largely white, middle-class, exclusionary movement.
Suggested further reading:
The Decentering of Second Wave Feminism and the Rise of the Third Wave by Susan Mann and Douglas Huffman, section: THE EARLY THIRD WAVE: INTERSECTIONALITY AND POSTMODERNISM/POST-STRUCTURALISM
Demetrakas, Johanna. “Feminists: What Were They Thinking?.” Netflix, Feb 19, 2018. https://www.netflix.com/title/80216844.
Mann, Susan Archer, and Douglas J. Huffman. “The Decentering of Second Wave Feminism and the Rise of the Third Wave.” Science & Society, vol. 69, no. 1, 2005, pp. 56–91. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40404229.
Yours in Sisterhood
Yours in Sisterhood gives life to the voices of women living in the 1970s while showing the ways that being a woman has and has not changed over time. The film shows a selection of interviews in which a person is asked to read a letter that was penned in the 1970s to Ms. Magazine but was never published and then answer questions about the letter. Almost every interview is shown as a continuous shot, or as at most three shots cut together. Every reader is from the same town as the author of the letter and has personal experience with the issues being discussed in the letter. The topics of the letters include environmental justice, race, sexuality and gun control and are all about the experience of women in America. They discuss the opinions of prisoners, sex workers, children, and senior citizens. Their are readers who sympathize deeply with the writers of their letter and there are readers who critique or scoff at the author of the letter they read. Many of the letters contain perspectives or opinions that would have been considered to devient in their time and that were not published by Ms. Magazine to avoid alienating the mainstream readership or distracting from what Ms. perceived to be the main issues. The film draws attention to whose voices we are not hearing in feminist and womens spaces, both then and now.
A book by the same name as the film which also explores unpublished Ms. letters can be found by members of the TriCo at: https://tripod.swarthmore.edu/permalink/01TRI_INST/j0hcq8/alma991010485049704921
A citation of the book follows:
Farrell, Amy Erdman. Yours in Sisterhood?: Ms. Magazine and the Promise of Popular Feminism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Print.
Citation of the movie poster:
Lusztig, Irene. “Yours in Sisterhood Poster.” Women Make Movies, Women Make Movies, https://www.wmm.com/catalog/film/yours-in-sisterhood/.
Still from The Cancer Journals Revisited
The Cancer Journals Revisited is a film that honors the life of Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet Audre Lorde. In this film, Lana Lin reflects on the meanings and implications of Lorde’s memoir The Cancer Journals (1980) by joining the text with interviews of 27 current and former breast cancer patients. The patients featured in the film are largely women of color. They read aloud and reflect on excerpts from Lorde’s memoir, sharing personal anecdotes and messages about what it is like to navigate illness and treatment in America. While not restricted to a solely American context, the film’s focus on American society is reflective of the critiques found in Lorde’s memoir. As the audience learns about the experiences of the various readers, viewers are also presented with information about Lorde’s life in the form of on-screen text and shots of archived materials––such as The Cancer Journals’ original manuscript box. Lin also inserts herself into the film through text overlay, acting as a “container” or “holding environment” to support the readers’ stories.
In a class conversation with the director, Lin described The Cancer Journals Revisited as a film, shying away from the labels documentary and experimental. This perspective is absent from reviews of the film, as most film festivals have placed The Cancer Journals Revisited in the documentary category. During this conversation, Lin also spoke about her decision to produce a film combining 4K, 16mm, and super 8mm raw stock shots. She explained that the decision to film on leftover raw stock came before she conducted the readings and interviews. Throughout the film, the raw stock serves as B-roll. In some scenes, Lin’s interviews begin with the interviewee on-screen and shift to a voice-over. For example, one reader’s interview served as a voice-over for an extended shot of two people doing Acro Yoga. While some of the scenes could be considered distracting, they display different bodies in relationship with one another––a major theme in Lorde’s life and writing. The Cancer Journals Revisited pays homage to Lorde in that it leaves out the opinion of cancer experts and centers the lived experiences of breast cancer patients of color.
Members of the TriCo can find The Cancer Journals memoir at this link: https://tripod.swarthmore.edu/permalink/01TRI_INST/j0hcq8/alma991005504359704921
Other prominent works by Audre Lorde include Zami: A New Spelling of my Name (1982) and Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (1984).
July, Beandrea. “Documentaries That Make New Connections Between the Personal and Political.” Hyperallergic, 2019. (https://hyperallergic.com/512472/blackstar-film-festival-documentaries/).