Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 7:30pm
Luce Guilbeault, Nicole Brossard, and Margaret Wescott's Some American Feminists
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Introduced by Margo Jefferson
Some American Feminists, Luce Guilbeault, Nicole Brossard, and Margaret Wescott, 1980, digital projection, 56 mins
Some American Feminists immediately elaborates its title and defines its purpose with a preamble of crawl text: “This film is not intended as a definitive statement on feminism—the women or the movement—but rather a documentary exploring the experiences, feelings and philosophies of some American feminists.” Shot in New York City in 1975 and 1976 by an entirely female crew, it revolves around a series of conversations with writers Ti-Grace Atkinson, Rita Mae Brown, Betty Friedan, Margo Jefferson, Lila Karp, and Kate Millett, punctuated by street interviews and footage of political demonstrations from the then-recent past. “Male chauvinism,” one group from a 1968 protest chants, “up against the wall!”
The film serves as a record of political awakening, both personal and collective, with subjects describing childhood stirrings of radical consciousness as well as formative encounters with The Feminine Mystique and The Second Sex (“It confirmed everything,” Millett says of de Beauvoir’s book). Yet just as crucially, Some American Feminists chronicles the numerous fissures that erupted across the era’s liberation struggles; Jefferson describes the rise of sexism within Black Nationalism and its deleterious effects, while Brown remarks on the tensions that emerged within second-wave feminism around the question of lesbian activism. These are dispatches from what Atkinson considers a “fallow period,” a time when “the problem that has no name became a movement without an idea, without an ideology.”
Where women’s liberation is heading is one of the movie’s implicit, animating questions, and the answer frequently comes as a call for making common cause: for addressing the double binds of black women and working class women, for dismantling patriarchy by forging alliances across other lines of oppression. Seen today, Some American Feminists reads as a remarkable document of feminism at a moment of significant transition, as well as a rich portrait of some of the movement’s most important thinkers. Here is a film that speaks, with clarity and force, of solidarity’s potential, while grappling with the complexities of its realization.
Margo Jefferson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and the author of Negroland: A Memoir and On Michael Jackson. She has been a staff writer for the New York Times and Newsweek and has published in The Believer, Bookforum, New York magazine, The Nation, the Washington Post, Gigantic, Grand Street, and elsewhere. She teaches in the writing program at Columbia University.
Tickets - $8, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.