Time: the 1970’s. Place: New York City. This dramatized essay explores how women feel about verbal harassment by men on the street. What do they think? What do they want to do?
Review by Lyndsay Knecht
“D” Magazine, “Arts & Entertainment”, “Video Fest”, March 30, 2018
“… the audience was entranced by a rare street harassment PSA that outdoes any I’ve ever seen. It was conceived, essay style, by Women Make Movies co-founder Sheila Page and released in 1977. A Street Harassment Film is 11 minutes of pure triumph. After recognizable and claustrophobic scenes of women being verbally accosted or cornered on the street, a self-defense class takes over the screen. An instructor urges women to note how hard the bones in their elbows are, to feel those elbows when insecurity strikes. She asks them to press the tender spot just under their own noses. Hurts, right? She is centered and almost comical in her delivery. The subtext is that women are human, able to feel and inflict pain. They reunite with their own bodies. There’s a chorus of screaming as the women run through their drills.
The class participants then show up at a party costumed alike in cocktail dresses. Following a kind of dream logic, they flirt audaciously with men, sprawl out against bannisters with ease. One reaches over to a man in a suit whose penis is exposed and grabs it— a contextual move, meant to reference the easy access to women’s bodies that men have historically assumed. It’s hilarious and weird and ends with a long pan of women sitting together, various races and ages represented, as Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” plays for longer than one expects. They’re all believably smiling. The point— the warmth of their existence— is made and felt.”
Dedicated to Joan Goldman, a street action pioneer
Margo Lee Sherman
Women’s Liberation protesters target the 1969 Miss America Pageant… The movie shows the boardwalk action — Women’s Liberation protest and crowd reactions — as well as behind-the-scenes pageant preparations inside Convention Hall.
2018 audience comment:
“The first image of this short doc hooked me… I loved this glimpse of the 1969 Miss America pageant protests on the boardwalk juxtaposed with interviews of contestants & dissidents.
The girl next store innocence and (seeming) naïveté of the contestants, the flavor of the NJ locals on the boardwalk – all the opinions expressed, the images, the clothes, the curlers! The passion of the protesters and how foreign the Women’s Movement seemed to most of the observers. This short film is a gem.”
A film by Sheila Paige
“slipping the leash, returning to the source…”
The 64 year-old birthday girl sits captive to the ticking of an antique clock. Time opens; it flows as a mighty river, singing of life and freedom – her epiphany.
“I sensed that it had a personal message for me about aging… it parallels my own path to confronting the shortness of time remaining: as Buddhism teaches, clinging to the expectation that nothing will change leads to suffering. Freedom comes with submerging into the big picture of life from the dolphins to the stars. We can’t stay with that perspective constantly, but if we keep open to it, the trap of time loses its grip. I wonder if the final scene is meant to suggest the process of bringing the epiphany into daily life.”
“I will be turning 60 in a couple of months. For me, I felt the fear of time running out, what had I accomplished, what could I have accomplished or been, and that I could stay shackled by those fears or jump into the river and enjoy the time. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. May I share it with others?”
“Beautiful sequences of water, and compelling explorations of different flavors of time. They left me open beyond, and yet through, the physical in a timeless sort of way… a wonderful introduction or jump start into meditation practice, and made me think about/for clients.”
Credits: (partial listing)
with Phelan Waldron as the Girl
Director of Photography
Sarah May Guenther
Niagara Falls Photography
Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra
sung by Hein Braat