Newsreel was always sensitive to women’s and minority issues, but still the organization was unprepared for a revolutionary and historic work created at the San Francisco chapter in 1971. The Woman’s Film was entirely filmed by and about women. At around the same time, internal conflicts and perceived contradictions within the New York chapter that had been smoldering for some time came to a head, prompting an exodus of many white male members. Robert Kramer left at this time. The New York chapter was urged to reform and make a fresh start. Christine Choy’s From Spikes to Spindles was the first work from the newly revamped Third World Newsreel to receive critical acclaim.
Up against the Wall, Ms. America
- 8 min / B&W / 1968 / Source: Third World Newsreel
“Here she comes . . .” Demonstrators introduced a sheep as the real winner at the 1968 Miss America pageant. This entertaining short depicts Women’s Liberation activists using guerilla theater to raise awareness of what Miss America really represents. Fascinating document of the early women’s movement in action.
The Woman’s Film
- 40 min / B&W / 1971 / Source: Third World Newsreel
Produced collectively by women, this documentary is a valuable historical document of the origins of the modern women’s movement in the U.S. This newly restored film delves into the lives of ordinary women from different races, educational levels and class backgrounds. Filmed mostly in small consciousness-raising groups from which the women’s movement grew, the women talk about the daily realities of their lives as wives, homemakers and workers. They speak, sometimes with hesitancy, often with passion, about the oppression of women as they see it.
From Spikes to Spindles
- 50 min / Color / 1976 / Source: Third World Newsreel
This raw, gutsy portrait of New York’s Chinatown captures the early days of an emerging consciousness in the community. We see a Chinatown rarely depicted, a vibrant community whose young and old join forces to protest police brutality and hostile real estate developers. With bold strokes, it paints an overview of the community and its history, from the early laborers driving spikes into the transcontinental railroad to the garment workers of the 1970s.