Perhaps you’ve heard. There’s a peaceful transition of power happening in Washington DC this weekend. Also happening this weekend is potentially one of the largest protest gatherings in recorded history. There are hundreds of thousands making their voices of dissent heard by marching in Washington, but with numbers reaching over a million by being augmented by over 600 protests happening simultaneously in the 50 states and in 58 other countries around the world, including Brazil, Tanzania, Lebanon, Canada (with over 25 locations), Mexico (with 17), England (with 14), and lots of others.
The Women’s March on Washington, as it has been called, has guiding principles that speak of inclusiveness, acceptance, and compassion. What they call the march’s unity principles are about standing up for reproductive, LGBTQIA, workers, disability, worker, and immigrant rights, and demanding serious attention be given to curbing the increased racism and xenophobia that is becoming a growing threat to the melting pot that is the country we love.
The documentary genre has always tackled serious issues, and there are many great films that have these issues front and center. As I’ll be marching this weekend with many women and supportive male friends, I thought highlighting some of the more informative, inspiring documentaries, as well as those that reaffirm the need for activism, would be appreciated by the many other concerned citizens taking part, with us in spirit, or supporting from the sidelines.
Here are five valuable suggestions to better arm yourself with information, and to better set an iron will for changing the world in which we all live together:
One of the many concerns of the march is to break the cycle of inequities of gender and race in the criminal justice system. As enlightening and motivating as it is depressing, co-writer and director Ava DuVernay’s documentary about the connection between the prison system and the history of racial inequality and oppression in this country is entirely engrossing. For all those who yearn to be informed about life and experience in the US, it is both eye-opening and horrifying. One in three young black men are expected to go to jail or prison in their lifetime. Is that statistic representative of the behaviors in our society or is there something more going on? DuVernay lays out evidence and facts that will change the way you see the justice and prison systems. (Available on Netflix)
Audrie and Daisy:
Co-directed by a women, Bonni Cohen with her husband Jon Shenk, this documentary follows the stories of the sexual assault and subsequent cyberbullying of several girls, one of whom committed suicide. Two of them, Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, were 15 and 14 years old at the time, and discovered the crimes against them were caught on camera. Many believe bullying on social media and the destructive force of sexual harassment and abuse is a major concern as part of the new administration. This film is important viewing for those and many other reasons. (Available on Netflix)
The New Black:
This film directed by Yoruba Richen examines how gay rights issues are being seen and experienced in the African American community. It documents activists on both sides, from those who work to expand marriage rights and acceptance, and those within the black church who express homophobia and embrace the anti-gay agenda of the Christian right. For people who are concerned about the overturn of many hard-won rights for the LGBTQIA community, this is a fascinating and eye-opening film. (available on Netflix)
Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation takes a look at how mainstream media and culture overvalue youth, beauty, and sexuality in young girls, while supporting aggression and dominance in young boys. It also examines how our culture underplays and underserves women in positions of power and influence in the United States, thereby contributing to the under-representation of women in the highest positions in business. For those of us who have experienced the frustration and limitation of gender stereotypes, Miss Representation is a must-see, but one in which we will frequently shake our heads in confirmation. (Available on Netflix)
Equal Means Equal:
Equal Means Equal is also a film that focuses on the state of women in America today. Director Kamala Lopez uses real-life stories and historic legal cases to highlight the continued discriminatory practices and perspectives that inform issues women and girls face today. From workplace harassment to sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as healthcare and other important and potentially life-altering aspects of daily life, she lays down a persuasive argument for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. This talks about the rights for which what many women have been, for many years, tirelessly fighting. It features, among others, feminist heroine Gloria Steinem, and Patricia Arquette, who has been agitating for women’s rights in and around Hollywood, so she knows a thing or two about the cause. She also shares producing credit.
Equal Means Equal is being screened Friday January 20th and Monday, January 23rd in Washington, DC! For more information, go to their website. You can also find alternate ways of seeing it there. http://equalmeansequal.com/
To all of you marching this weekend, be safe. Remember, however, there’s much to be done after this weekend is over. These documentaries and many others are available to educate and motivate you to continue the work, which will be needed through these next four years.
For Cinema Siren, and women in film and everywhere in America, I’m Leslie Combemale.
ps. for those of you who love Wonder Woman, and want to support Planned Parenthood, one of the organizations being threatened by this new administration, you can go to my gallery online and when you buy the art of Wonder Woman a percentage of the profits will go to them. You can find more information HERE. (hyperlink:) http://www.artinsights.com/wonder-woman-original-production-art-in-honor-of-the-womens-march-on-washington/