About the film
All about the independent film "Feminist: Stories from Women's Liberation" by Jennifer Hall Lee
About this film
Feminist: Stories from Women's Liberation is a one hour film about the women's liberation movement covering the years 1963-1970. I started shooting the interviews for the film in 2004. It was released in 2013 and has been shown in film festivals, on college campuses, for non-profit organizations, in middle schools and has been shown globally. It is a part of the National Center for History in the Schools. It won "Best of the Fest" for documentary at the Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival.
In this film I chose to tell some of the stories from 1963 through 1970. I can't tell all of them because there were so many. I can't interview all of the feminists because there are far too many. The women's movement entered every corner of all of our lives. It transformed our country. The fact that we have partial memories, or incorrect information about the women's liberation movement is why I made this film.
What was the moment I realized I needed to make this film? It's simple, really. I have always considered myself a feminist. I've been working in the film industry since I graduated college and I have also made my own documentaries. One day in 2004 I watched a segment of "Meet the Press" where five men were discussing how to overturn Roe v. Wade. I thought, "Where are the women?" The next day I talked about it with a co-worker and she leaned over and whispered, "Are you a feminist?" I tried telling her that it was good to be a feminist, but I realized I didn't know the details of the women's movement of the 20th century. I saw that even though I called myself a "feminist" I lacked a visual history of the women's movement. I had no “snapshots” in my memory from which to grab whenever I was asked why I was a feminist. I had no way to describe the events of the women's liberation movement to show why they were so important. That moment stopped me in my tracks.
Seeing the need to fill in the gaps of my visual knowledge about the women's liberation movement, I decided to make a film. I filmed many of the feminists who helped make that revolution happen. One woman's story led to another. I traveled the country. I always understood that the women's movement was created by people all over the United States, but listening to these women individually made me fully understand that movements are started by people, not leaders.
These "women's liberation movement stories" touch people. As Ellen Snortland wrote in October of 2013 after seeing the film, "I watched the film with an appetite that has rarely been sated." Indeed, as you listen to the stories from these women and watch the work that was done during the feminist revolution, you realize how deep the "empty space" is in our memories where this information should be. It's time to change this.
The names of these events and feminists aren't well-known. You may not have heard of the Statue of Liberty takeover or the "memo" that ignited young women across the country to demand liberation. Names like Vivian Rothstein, Aileen Hernandez, Sonia Pressman Fuentes are not names we learn about in school, but we need to learn them.
I experienced my own arc while I made this film. As I edited the film, I began to see how important this information is to young people. I knew that our daughters needed to learn about these women. Many studies and surveys show that girls don't see themselves as leaders. I believe that showing them this history will help them see the pathway to power.
Standing in the 21st century I can see there is so much to learn about a time when a relatively small group of women gave a voice to the feelings of millions of women. They are a vital part of American history and they deserve to be remembered.
-Jennifer Hall Lee
Images of many of the feminists in the film are shown below. After several years of traveling the country I interviewed more than 35 feminists from the "second wave." The feminists in the film are shown below.