Nevertheless, She Persisted
It’s been years since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell uttered these famous words, which then went on to become the feminist rallying cry. While McConnell was referring to Senator Warren in particular, history is laced with stories of women who stood out, women who stood up, and who, nevertheless, persisted.
These 5 films are portraits of inspirational women, women who refused to be held back or held down. It makes for some fine viewing.
The Petticoat Expeditions, Part Three: Countess of Aberdeen
Wow. What a find this film was. I had never heard of The Petticoat Expeditions when I stumbled upon this gem. It’s a series from 1997 that consists of three films that tell the stories of three extraordinary women who bucked the conventions, and restrictions, of their times. In this installment, we follow the story of the Countess of Aberdeen, who travels to the colonies in North America, determined to discover the fate of the Scottish immigrants, which led to her devoting herself to social reform. Oh, and also? It’s narrated by Helena Bonham Carter.
This portrait of Alanis Obomsawin was done in honour of her receiving a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2008. Funny. She’s still going strong. An Indigenous woman who survived cutbacks and layoffs, and braved stand-offs between armies and warriors to capture truth on film is the epitome of the woman who persisted.
My Name is Kahentiiosta
Speaking of Alanis Obomsawin, one of her seminal films was Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance. The film documents the 78-day Oka Crisis of 1990, during which there was an armed stand-off between the police, the army, and the Kahnawake Mohawks. This film tells the story of Kahentiiosta, one woman who was part of the resistance.
The Colour of Beauty
Meet Renee Thompson, a black fashion model trying to break through in New York, in an industry that is notoriously, overwhelmingly white. This is a woman with drive. Her Toronto agent claims she’s incapable of saying no. She just goes on. But as inspiring as Renee’s perseverance is, the realities that surround her are downright depressing. There’s an alarming lack of women of colour working in the industry, and the reasons the film sets forth are astounding.
This experimental short was created in honour of Kathleen Shannon, editor and one-time executive producer at the NFB’s Studio D. It depicts scenes of women marching and women in chains, all being spliced and edited together, along with a soundtrack that remains unclear until the end. It may have been created to recognize one woman, but it’s a tribute to all the women who persist.