Independent filmmaker brings award-winning documentary to Women’s Studies event series

Independent filmmaker Jennifer Lee presented her award-winning film “Feminist: Stories From Women’s Liberation”at the MUC Missouri Room on Sept. 18.

Filmmaker Jennifer Lee presented her award-winning movie “Feminist: Stories From Women’s Liberation” at the MUC Missouri Room

Women’s Studies Program director Catherine Seltzer said while the Women’s Studies event series primarily focuses on current issues of importance, each semester dedicates some of its programming to women’s history.

Lee’s documentary won “Best of the Fest” at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. It is a one-hour film about the women’s liberation movement covering the years 1963-1970.

“The fact that we have partial memories, or incorrect information about the women’s liberation movement, is why I made this film,” Lee said.

Seltzer said Lee’s documentary does a great job exploring the impact of the second wave of the Women’s Movement on American culture.

Lee traveled the country to interview the women who were involved in the movement for the documentary.

“At that time, women were told to be quiet; women weren’t picked when [they] raised their hands in class,” Lee said. “The women’s liberation movement did a lot to give women the space to speak their minds.”

According to Seltzer, the film was a great introduction for students who might not be familiar with that period of women’s history, and it was an insightful portrait to those who knew the leaders Lee interviewed.

“I think there is a memory hole when it comes to the women’s liberation movement,” Lee said. “If you don’t teach that history, it’s sort of inevitable that people are going to say, ‘What is being a feminist?’ or, ‘I don’t know if I want to be that.’”

Lee said most elementary, middle and high school textbooks barely mention the women’s liberation movement in chapters dedicated to groups that fought for equality such as the Civil Rights or the immigration workers’ rights movements.

“At the end of chapters, there is a follow up for students to remember the important points and there is no mention of the Women’s Liberation Movement,” Lee said.

Lee emphasized the importance of women filmmakers to make movies about feminism from their perspective.

“Being behind the camera is different than being in front of it,” Lee said. “It is important [for females] to take the position of the narrator and tell stories from their point of view.”

The film has been shown in schools, public libraries and universities around the country.

“I showed the documentary at a girls charter middle school. They loved it [and] the important thing is that now they know a lot about these historical women,” Lee said.

Lee’s lecture, which followed the screening of the film, addressed the dangers of allowing the women’s movement to slip from our collective cultural memory, according to Seltzer.

Lee’s career includes experience working with Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures Imageworks studios and having participated in the production of films that include Forest Gump, Ghost and The Hunt for Red October, among others.

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