What’s Up, Doc? Films Examine Gender Politics And Political Women

Unapologetic film

Congratulations Kamala Harris! The California senator made history as the first woman of color (she’s of Indian and Jamaican descent) to be on a major party’s presidential ticket. Hopefully, she’ll also make America’s future as the country’s vice president when she and former Vice President Joe Biden win in November. But like her female predecessors, namely presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton, Harris must weather sexist attacks that dismiss her overwhelming qualifications.

Nasty Woman? Please! The nasty description applies more to the source than the target. It also reflects a climate that, despite strides made by the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and ’70s, can’t shake off a cultural misogyny born of male privilege and female sexual objectification.

If you don’t think so, ask yourself this: Can there be political, social and economic equality for women without the equality of sexual pleasure? How different would the world be if women’s libidos were taken as seriously as men’s?

These points are presented in “The Dilemma of Desire” by Peabody Award-winner Maria Finitzo, whose documentary examines how cultural, institutional, religious and political forces ignore and/or punish women for expressing their sexual desire. 

Antiquated and typically unchallenged sexual imagery persists in sex education, advertising and entertainment (from mainstream movies to porn) that suggest women’s bodies are the objects of pleasure, but not necessarily the recipients of it. Yet despite gender politics, this film confirms women want the same things as men.

“The Dilemma of Desire” can be streamed on Aug 20- 21. To learn more, visit https://dilemmaofdesiredoc.com/screenings

Movie-goers can actually go to the movies thanks to Chicago’s Music Box Theatre. The historic cinema opened its doors for socially distanced seating just in time to view “Represent” directed by Hillary Bachelder. 

The political and personal documentary follows three midwestern women on both sides of the aisle who are confronting entrenched systems to improve their community through public service. The film follows Myya Jones of Detroit; Bryn Bird of Granville, Ohio; and Julie Cho of Evanston.

To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment (which guaranteed a woman’s right to vote), “Represent” begins its virtual and theatrical release via Music Box Theatre on August 14.

Music Box Films acquired the U.S. distribution rights to the documentary co-produced by Kartemquin Films, ITVS, and Backbone Films. For tickets to the screenings or to stream, visit https://musicboxtheatre.com/films/represent.

Chicago’s non-profit studio Kartemquin Films also produced the documentary “Unapologetic” directed by Ashley O’Shay. From the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the film explores the Movement for Black Lives through the lens of abolitionist leaders Janaé and Bella.

Presented by Color of Change and Media Justice, “Unapologetic” streams on Aug. 20 per the 2020 Blackstar Film Festival. Visit https://www.blackstarfest.org/festival/ for passes.

O’Shay will discuss how she sparks democracy through a documentary in KTQ Community Conversations on Aug. 28. For more information, visit https://kartemquin.com/

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Images
Top: “Unapologetic” courtesy of  Kartemquin Films, © 2020
Middle: “The Dilemma of Desire” courtesy of Kartemquin Films, © 2020
Bottom: “Represent” courtesy of Kartemquin Films, ITVS, and Backbone Films, © 2020

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Ms. Arvia is a freelance writer, former filmmaker, artist and Janet-of-all-trades who is pleased to serve as Arts & Culture Editor on our magazine since she’s always been Rebellious.