Last month, a documentary – MAKERS: Women Who Make America – premiered on NPT (Nashville Public Television, an off-shoot of PBS) that started a great celebration of Women’s History Month. It was trending in social media all night and has attracted a fair amount of press. From Betty Freidan’s The Feminine Mystique, to Hillary Clinton becoming the first former First Lady not only to serve in the Senate, but also as Secretary of State, the 3-hour documentary tells the remarkable story of women and the “most sweeping social revolution in American history.”
Contributors to the documentary include Gloria Steinem, Sandra Day O’Connor, Phyllis Schafly, Aileen Hernandez, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Ruth Simmons, Judy Blume, Rita Mae Brown, Oprah Winfrey – just to name a few. And if they weren’t technically featured in the documentary, there is no doubt commentary from or about them included on MAKERS’ website of videos dedicated to America’s trailblazing women.
The documentary is filled with stories like the attack on Kathrine Switzer as she became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, or of Sarah Weddington, who argued Roe V Wade at 26, or Lorena Weeks, whose Georgian lilt belies her tenacity in the civil rights case Weeks V Southern Bell.
I stayed up until 3am watching. At 5am, I was up again, on a mission. This is the kind of film that makes you live life differently. Not a barnburner but a throwback to the past and a glimpse into what the future can hold if women continue the move forward to equality. As Sheryl Sandberg points out in her newly released (and controversial) book Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead (review up soon) – “If we can succeed in adding more female voices at the highest levels, we will expand opportunities and extend fairer treatment to all.” This film feels, in a way, like a reminder of what women have accomplished, where we’re at and where we’re going.
Check out the trailer below, and see all three parts (for free!) streaming on the PBS website linked above.
The associated production companies, including Kunhardt McGee Productions, Storyville Films, and WETA Washington D.C. in association with Ark Media, are equally great. Specifically, I’d suggest a visit to Storyville Films, who has a great collection of past documentary work.