One of the more interesting points made (and there were many) at Thursday night's post screening panel of Women's Voices: The Gender Gap Movie is that, in 1984 home distribution was an unknown, yet this 16mm short made an impact. Getting it seen by as many as possible, with the upcoming election of the time, was a true grassroots effort. Nancy Meyer and others traveled with canister in hand to screenings, made cold calls encouraging communities to watch this film. Literally reaching out person, by person, asking if they can take their VHS from their home to a community center and so on. This was pre-DVD and there was definitely no VOD, Twitter or Facebook. Crowd sourcing was a term yet to be coined. (Pictured above: Hollander shows some of her cartoons during panel). Women's Voices: The Gender Gap Movie (1984) was made by famed social issue documentarians, Kartemquin Films and addressed the gender gap, offering a range female perspectives and what mattered to them in the era of Reagonomics.
Last year Kartemquin received a preservation grant through New York Women in Film and Television's (NYWIFT) Women's Film Preservation Fund (WFPF). Women's Voices: The Gender Gap Movie is compiled of interviews from everyday women to political leaders intercut with some fantastically and bitingly funny Nicole Hollander illustrations, animated by Ron Crawford and Sydney Crawford. The documentary does an effective job of combining information and relevant humor. Terry Lawler, Executive Director of NYWIFT, introduced the film at Thursday night's Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center.
In light of the film's subject matter, the panel first focused on putting this work into context of then and now (there is also an update, which followed the screening with Nicole Hollander on camera with her cartoons), the parallels between 1984 and today. Another focus was the mobilization of women voters. What gets women to the polls. Moderator, Lillian Jiménez, Executive Director of Latino Educational Media Center, lead the discussion with introductions, allowing each panelist to speak of their connection to the film and/or subject matter. Panelists included Faye Anderson, Filmmaker/Public Policy Consultant and Project Manager for The Cost of Freedom Project, Page Gardner, Founder/President, Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund, Voter Participation Center, Nicole Hollander, Cartoonist, Nancy Meyer, the film's Producer, Amy Richards, Author/Co-Founder, Third Wave Foundation, and Jenny Rohrer, the film's Co-Producer/Director.
In other words, an impressive group with lots of smarts and all had valid and unique knowledge on voter mobilization. Gardner offered some statistics on how women tend to vote. She noted that women's votes are often based on culture and more women vote when married than when single. Anderson addressed voter ID requirements and the confusion that results from these new and complicated voter I.D. rules (i.e. lack of active voters, which appears to be a political strategy). She also pointed out that those without "proper" voter I.D., could be any one of us. Amy Richards shared college-age voter views and admitted a lack of momentum in comparison to the last election, which isn't really surprising, but what I didn't know was what she said about young voter numbers. The youth vote is a low percentage, but when they do decide to vote, it's largely democratic. That's why the youth vote is important to the Democratic Party. Hollander pointed out something I hadn't considered before. There is a particular candidate currently running, who looks like Eddie Munster. (Pictured above: Gardner, Meyer and Rohrer).
During the Q&A, a woman admitted she was disappointed in our current president and Jiménez responded with her thoughts. Jiménez said the expectations for President Obama were unrealistically high, and listed some of his significant accomplishments. She suggested to weigh those accomplishments against the issues that matter to voters in general, as well as women voters. She then suggested to consider all that when looking at what the apposing candidate is promising.
During the post screening reception (where I had a chance to chat with a very charming Sydney Crawford) much of the conversation was how Women's Voices: The Gender Gap Movie can get seen again as much as possible before election day. The film is amazingly relevant how it points out the gender gap and campaigns to mobilize women voters. If you've paid attention to the news as of late, you've heard all about it. So if this 1984 film's subjects sound oddly familiar, they unfortunately are. Watch Women's Voices: The Gender Gap Movie with the 2012 update now!
Hollander's Sylvia character