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She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry: An Inside Out Perspective

June 2nd, 2015     by Nish Israni     Comments

Photo credit: Diana Davies

Did you know that this year was Inside Out Film Festival’s 25th Anniversary? The long running LGBT festival took place from May 21-31, screening all of its films at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. I was lucky to catch a few films during the 10-day queer/trans movie extravaganza. I plan on reporting back on the films that I watched, sharing my reviews with Shameless readers, starting with the premiere of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.

Directed by Mary Dore, this documentary spans the American Women’s Movement from 1966 to 1971. It delves into the hard fought struggle for women’s rights to equality, autonomy, and freedom to live a life that isn’t constrained by patriarchal, systemic and violent hierarchies of oppression. It celebrates the burgeoning of second-wave feminism fuelled by the anger, frustration, injustice and violence being inflicted on women during those times. Women’s rights to reproductive freedoms such as access to birth control and safe abortions were being infringed upon and denied. Their rights to their own sexuality and autonomy over their own bodies had been severely restricted and stigmatized.

The call to action was urgent and necessary for many women and spread like wildfire. The personal had become political and feminist actions in the form of marches, riots, posters, ‘zines, music and women-only groups and meetings were popping up all across America. Women were marching against sexist ideologies that assigned them to a second-class status compared to men. They were challenging the stereotypes and assumptions that were being based on their gender, class, race, sexuality and ability. These women no longer tolerated the ideas that they belonged to men, bodily, sexually, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and existed solely for men, as homemakers and mothers.

The revolution was ablaze in many different ways. I really enjoyed learning about the ‘witch’ movement where women were marching in the streets, casting hexes on men. Another movement involved shedding all forms of feminine torture such as bras, heels, girdles and garters in public and burning them all in a heap. Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique was discussed as one of the catalysts for this revolution, responsible for a fiery awakening in women to resist, challenge, subvert and transform their own subjugation.

I really enjoyed the documentary’s rare, never before seen, archival footage of some of these demonstrations, as well as interviews from Rita Mae Brown, Fran Beal, Judith Arcana, Jacqui Ceballos, Marilyn Webb, and other well known and esteemed feminists, as well as a killer soundtrack featuring Le Tigre, Courtney Love, Janis Ian, and more. This documentary also blew my mind in the way that it drew attention to women of colour as well as queer women and their fight to be included and recognized as forces that made liberation possible.

I really hope that some of you will have an opportunity to watch She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry and learn more about the monumental and pivotal fight for a better, safer and equitable society for women. Watch this space for more reviews from me as I report back from this wonderful, and awe-inspiring film festival.

Tags: media savvy, review

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