March 21st, 2014 | Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines | Germantown, MD
We’ve hit the halfway point and have to skedaddle down to the Blackrock Center for the Arts in Germantown, Maryland. On the way outta town we stop and have brunch with fellow filmmaker and “documama” Jesse Epstein and her family. Jesse, like me, is a new mom and she has brazenly formed a group called documama of fellow documentary filmmakers who are, well, mamas. I love that idea, and get suddenly sad that I live way out on the West Coast where I don’t know many documamas. Anyway, Jesse is awesome and I love her films. Her short, “Wet Dreams and False Images,” about a barber shop and photo retouching is hilarious and I always show it in my film classes. Check out the trailer:
I am super excited about the screening at Blackrock as we are having a panel afterward and a reception before. We roll into town just in time, a bit bedraggled, to discover that tonight’s screening is to be their biggest yet of the series. They have sold over 100 tickets! The women’s leadership and political action group, Montgomery Women, is throwing us a party and they are a really awesome organization. But, as usual, my daughter, running through the gallery where the reception is hosted, steals the show with her sparkly, light-up shoes and unabashed exuberance about all things, well, all things. I am asked to give a speech and suddenly find myself emotional somehow tying together superheroes, the need for role models for young girls, and the important work of cultivating leadership in women.
The show is packed. In fact, they have to add more chairs to accommodate the overflow and I am told a Girl Scout troop is in attendance. For some reason, that makes me nervous! I hover in the wings and wait for the ending, appreciating when this audience laughs in all the right places and applauds in the end. I was joined on the panel by some local heavies: Genevieve Carminati, Program Director, College-wide Women’s and Gender Studies at Montgomery College and Tina Patterson, a board member of Montgomery Women and an expert in advocacy and outreach on issues dealing with human and women’s rights. What an honor!
I knew with this many people and this diverse of a crowd, the panel was sure to be interesting. Before the screening, Executive Director Krista Bradley had let me know that because of the recent uproar over Sheryl Sandberg’s #BanBossy campaign, the screening had got some good press and attention. For those who don’t know, the #BanBossy campaign was created after the success of Sandberg’s Lean In book, to raise awareness around leadership in girls. Because girls who direct or give orders can be labeled as “bossy” rather than seen as confident or as leaders, the hope is to offer some perspective and balance to the discussion. But other feminists are encouraging girls to #BeBossy because that seems to be the only way women and girls can actually get their voices heard to affect change.
The panel was exciting. I appreciated Tina’s comment that when she was growing up, Wonder Woman wasn’t seen as a role model because she didn’t identify with her as an African-American girl. Instead she looked to characters like Lt. Uhura from “Star Trek.” This caught my attention because I had tried really hard to interview the actor who played Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, for Wonder Women! I was crushed when the interview didn’t happen and had always expected to have her in the film. She was an important and groundbreaking role model for so many women and girls. If anyone out there can get me an interview….!
Other highlights included a comment from a young boy who was openly disappointed because he thought he was going to see “a movie, not a document.” I apologized to him and admitted that the title is a little misleading, but said I hoped he’d found some of the film entertaining. Another nice moment for me was when one of the girl scouts told the crowd that she is in 6th grade and already publishing her own book. Talk about impressive! Overall, everyone seemed really informed. There were a lot of very conversant comic book aficionados who stayed to talk shop after the film. I was exhausted, but exhilarated by the turnout.
Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.