To Be a Miss takes the viewer through the inner workings of Venezuela’s beauty factory, exploring the hopes and dreams of young models as they strive to become the next Miss Venezuela. Following three central protagonists, the film exposes the risks and rewards associated with this multi-billion-dollar industry while showing how nationalism, personal ambition, and the influence of mass media have transformed the lives of ordinary women in the country.
At the tail end of the “Satanic ritual abuse panic” of the 1990’s, four Latina lesbian women in San Antonio, Texas were accused and wrongfully convicted of a heinous sexual assault. Known as ‘The San Antonio Four’, these women, after serving over a decade in prison, refuse to stop fighting to prove their innocence in this heart-wrenching examination of the criminal justice system.
Want a better brain? Meet Dr. Marian Diamond, renowned teacher and research scientist, and prepare to be smitten. Learn about her many scientific accomplishments and meet the thoroughly charming woman herself, who describes her 60 years researching the brain as “pure joy.” As one of the founders of modern neuroscience, Dr. Diamond has changed forever our paradigm for understanding the brain.
Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” icon Maya Angelou gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South, to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana, to her inaugural speech for President Bill Clinton, the film takes us on an incredible journey through the life of a true American icon.
What if the city streets filled with fat people dancing happily, energetically, all in unison? Juicy D. Light is a fat dancer. She believes that people should live “out loud” whatever their body size and she is not alone. This film tracks Juicy D.’s dream and follows her plan to bring a group of colorfully dressed people to dance in the streets of San Francisco, showing the rest of us what it looks like to be fat and happy.
Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model follows award-winning performance artist Bryony Kimmings and her 10-year-old niece Taylor as they try to combat the hyper-sexualized and commercialized world of pop by creating their own alternative popstar role model for Tweens (7 to 12 year-old girls). This feature-length documentary is as uplifting as it is irreverent, an inspirational film for anyone who cares about the impact of the media we consume.
“Waterbabies” explores the world of synchronized swimming by way of an American teenage team; The New Canaan Aquianas. The film follows the girls as they train, practice, compete and become dexterous masters. We see the ambitions these young teenage girls explore through swimming. The many challenges of female teenage life inevitably surface as well. What’s clear is that the girls are incredibly passionate about this sport.
This short captures visual artist Cristina Velasquez’ life in a few simple but effective scenes. Filmed in black & white as part of the Stanford Documentary Program.
In an industry dominated by men, Heather Lawson defied expectations and stereotypes to become the first, and only, female production stone mason in Canada. With robust individuality, Lawson lives life on her own terms, creating one of a kind stone sculptures and exemplifying the freedom associated with being true to yourself. Part of the Breakwater Studios’ “Life’s Work” web series.
“The Royal Women Association” tells the story of a group of South Asian women in Calgary who banded together to overcome the isolation and loneliness so common among older members of their community. The women break out of their shells and overcome their demons by sharing songs, poetry, food, and laughter at the group’s monthly meetings. As they plan an event that calls attention to domestic violence in the community, one member, Sarbjit, tries to come to terms with the trauma of her own past.
In Punjabi with English subtitles
This portrait of dancer Lauren Cuthbertson, principal dancer at UK’s Royal Ballet, reveals the brutal reality of being a top ballerina as she performs a mesmerising piece of choreography. Whether or not you like ballet this beautifully filmed short will leave you in awe as it captures all the grace and skill of this dancer in a few short minutes.
This hard-hitting documentary about sex trafficking features intrepid reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn and actor/advocates Ashley Judd, Blake Lively and Malin Ackerman. Through interviews with trafficked women, the extent of the problem in the US is revealed, often graphically. From a halfway house in Nashville to an anti-trafficking program in Boston and a police program in Chicago targeting Johns, the reporters reveal that trafficking is not just a foreign problem, but is rampant right here in our own backyard.
When Van Hoang, a Vietnamese immigrant and nail salon owner, discovers that her health problems, including two miscarriages, are the result of the products used in her salon, she becomes involved in the fight for safe cosmetics. In “Painted Nails”, we witness Van’s transformation from a shy woman who speaks minimal English to a forthright advocate testifying before Congress. This is a heartwarming story of the struggles and successes of an immigrant family.
Edythe Boone may be 75 years old but is still fully engaged in bringing her art to the community. Her murals grace buildings from Berkeley to San Francisco, but she is above all a community educator. Boone tirelessly teaches both young and old in her unique method of mural painting. As events unfold, her nephew dies in police custody with his last words being “I Can’t Breathe”, throwing her work into turmoil.
Nova Scotia ceramicist Louise Pentz was not satisfied with her success as a production potter. In “Mother Earth”, one of Breakwater Studios’ “Life’s Work” master craftsman profiles, she outlines the impetus for her change of style and the direction it sent her. Shot in and around her studio, this film helps us understand what drives and inspires artists.
WEB SERIES, SATURDAY SHORTS
“Lady Bug” dissects the life and work of master metalsmith Elizabeth Goluch. She specializes in metal insects which she hand builds in her Nova Scotia studio. In this Breakwater Studios’ “Life’s Work” production she discusses the roots of her passion for this work.
In 1966, a young dancer and choreographer from San Francisco made an unconventional solo which became a decisive moment in the history of contemporary dance. Then she began experimenting with film. At the age of 56 she came out as a lesbian, and in 1997 she won the Teddy Award. Today, aged 80, she is still working on the stage, after Mikhail Baryshnikov persuaded her to make a belated comeback as a choreographer. This is the story of Yvonne Rainer: choreographer, filmmaker, intellect, and feminist and the equally remarkable times that shaped her creative practice.
“Daughters of the Forest” follows the lives of a group of girls attending The Mbaracayú Forest Girls’ School. The school is surrounded by land where more than 95 percent of the forest has been burned and cleared. The school is where the girls learn both academically and through running businesses that support themselves and the school. We see the fulfillment of their vision: the best hope for changing the world is empowering the girls.
Passion & Power is based on Rachel P. Maines’ ground-breaking book, The Technology of Orgasm: Hysteria, the Vibrator and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction. The film chronicles the invention of the vibrator and its impact on sexual politics by tracing it from a labor-saving device invented by doctors to cure women of “hysteria” to a household product manufactured and sold by mainstream companies like Sears Roebuck, General Electric and Hamilton Beach. This provocative, but tasteful documentary interviews historians Rachel Maines and Katharine Young; feminist pioneers Betty Dodson and Dell Williams; Texas housewife Joanne Webb and her lawyer, BeAnn Sisemore; and New York performance artist Reno.