Women in Documentary
While the virgin-in-chains turned abortion-activist was my favorite image in the film, the most emotional moment was during an email exchange with a woman from Nairobi. She kisses the pills when she gets them, and a raw, personal email exchange follows as she goes through the process.
However, Vivian Maier–besides being an obvious genius–remains a mystery. ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ follows the narrative mystery as we pursue the reclusive and eccentric Vivian (or her personas of Ms. Meier, Mayer, Meyer, Meyers, Maier) across the US and through the streets of the 1950s and 1960s, attempting to discover more of a woman who is still unknowable.
Check out what we’ve been reading this week–and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!
On April 18, 2014, 16 Sherpas, the great guides of the Nepali mountain range, were killed in an avalanche from the Khumbu icefall, making Friday, April 18, the deadliest day in Everest history. The tragedy brought light to a controversy of Everest summiting that had been brewing for the past few years. Suddenly, there was a spotlight on the high-adventure tourist industry running out of Everest: the overcrowded and littered Everest summit, the fights between Sherpas and trekkers, and the fact that Sherpas do the hardest, most dangerous work of summiting without awards or recognition.
While women are generally underrepresented in the media, stories about domestic and sexual violence overwhelmingly place women in the roles of the victim. In a world where men play the heroes and villains, the damsel in distress is an on-screen role where women are positively overflowing. Breaking that stereotype with strong women is crucial, but for true gender equality, men need to be seen in vulnerable positions as well.
Green’s intimate reporting and the incredible cinematography and editing that makes the film stand out accomplish the goal of respecting, questioning, and empowering these women activists. Green, in examining those fighting against the patriarchy, exposes and dismantles the patriarch who was running the show.
Whether we make online videos that directly respond to terrible portrayals of us in the media, videos with the purpose of educating and doing advocacy, or produce feature films, sex workers who make media are constantly pressed up against all of our stereotypes. Over the last decade, I have dealt with documentary media about sex work as an audience member, a subject, and a producer. Whether we’re portrayed as villains or victims, pretty women or desperate girls, sex workers are a popular focus of documentary projects. But the only way to reach beyond simplistic narratives is for sex workers to be involved in the production of these projects.
Sunny Dooley, one of the primary narrators, as well as the writer and performer of Changing Woman Poem that is woven throughout the film, is also a former ‘Miss Navajo’ (1982-83). During the second opening sequence where photos and archival footage of the contest flash across the screen, Sunny narrates, “You have to speak your language, you have to have a skill, you have to have a talent, and I think that’s what makes our pageant one of the few that really taps into the whole woman.”
On Aug. 21, 2010, 14-year-old Laura Dekker sailed out of Den Osse, Netherlands for a two-year circumnavigation of the world, alone. By the time she finished her journey, on Jan. 21, 2012, at the age of only 16, Dekker would be the youngest person to ever sail solo around the world. Documentary ‘Maidentrip’ chronicles Laura’s voyage. It’s an emotional coming-of-age story, set as a love letter to the ocean and the transformative experience of encountering a larger world.
Let me begin by saying I’m queer-identified. I have trans* family, but it’s impossible for me to speak for trans* people of experience. I can share concepts, however. Too, my general line of thought in terms of sexuality, gender identity or personhood is that no matter how often your definition changes, you “are” what you tell me that you are.
It was 2006, Los Angeles, and I was attending yet another audition technique seminar. I stood on the stage, hoping to fascinate and stun the visiting talent manager with my craft. I was hopeful when I saw that it was a young, black woman. Surely, this meant she was supportive of women and actors of color. I gave it all I had. Or, as good as one can give with dialogue for a one-dimensional, “cute, racially unspecific,” best friend role with no arc. The feedback changed my life.
“You are great, but you don’t look enough like Halle Berry.”
Saber Sharifi trains women boxers in The Boxing Girls of Kabul This is a guest post by Rachael Johnson. The Boxing Girls of Kabul is a Canadian documentary about the boxing careers of three young Afghan women, sisters Sadaf and Shabnam Rahimi and Shahla Sikandary. It was written and directed by the Afghan-Canadian filmmaker Ariel […]