According to the official government website for Women’s History Month, the celebration originated when Congress declared the first week of March “Women’s History Week” in 1981. By 1987, a petition by the National Women’s History Project successfully led to a declaration that the entire month of March would be dedicated to women’s history. The month of March is meant to shine a light on the contributions that women have made throughout American and world history. Each year the National Women’s History Project chooses a theme to highlight throughout the month. The purpose of Women’s History Month is to retell history with the proper information on and inclusion of women, giving everyone the inspiration to succeed.
Throughout the United States, organizations, companies, schools, and communities hold events, programs, and exhibits throughout the month of March celebrating women and their role in history. International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th with the purpose of celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness against bias, and taking action for equality.
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8 Women ( 110min., 2001) Eight women try to solve a murder. Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Beart.
Alien (116 min., 1979) When commercial towing vehicle Nostromo, heading back to Earth, intercepts an SoS signal from a nearby planet, the crew are under obligation to investigate. After a bad landing on the planet, some crew members leave the ship to explore the area. At the same time as they discover a hive colony of some unknown creature, the ship's computer deciphers the message to be a warning, not a call for help. When one of the eggs is disturbed, the crew do not know the danger they are in until it is too late.
Daughters of the Dust (113min., 1999, streaming and DVD) Languid look at the Gullah culture of the sea islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia where African folkways were maintained well into the twentieth century, one of the last bastions of these mores in America. Tells the story of a large African-American family as they prepare to move North at the dawn of the 20th Century.
Dolores ( 97min., 2017) Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century - and she continues the fight to this day, at 87.
Hidden Figures (126 min., 2017) As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as "human computers", we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history's greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return.
The Hunger Games (142min., 2012) A 16-year-old girl competes in a vicious televised tournament in which 24 teenagers from a postapocalyptic society fight to the death for the entertainment of the masses.
Karmen Gei (Dir. Joseph Gaï Ramaka, 2002): Karmen escapes prison through her lesbian relationship with the warden. She then wrecks the marriage and career of a police corporal by making him her lover and co-conspirator in a smuggling ring.
League of their Own, A (127min., 1992) A look at the first women's professional baseball league focuses on the rivalry between sisters on the same team, and their washed up, hard-drinking coach.
Little Women (121 min., 1949) Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is one of the great young-adult novels of the 19th century. It describes the coming-of-age of the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, whose loving mother cares for them while their father serves in the Civil War. Jo, who falls in love and becomes a writer, is clearly an analogue for Alcott herself.
Mystery of Eva Peron (112min., 2008) Actress, seductress, political powerhouse and cultural icon of Argentina and the world, the life and legend of María Eva Duarte de Perón, or Evita, as she came to be known, endures to this day.
Nation of Women Behind Bars, A (38min., 2015): ABC News Anchor Diane Sawyer takes you on a journey into the world of women living behind bars in America's prison system today. On both political sides, there is an agreement that the American prison system needs to be re-examined. The United States has larger populations and longer sentences than much of the world. Women are the fastest growing group of prisoners in the country compared to men.
Nine to Five (109min., 1980) Three abused and harassed secretaries decide to make their secret fantasy come true: they're going to get rid of their chauvinistic superior. Parton, Fonda and Tomlin shine in one of the most entertaining comedies in quite some time.
No Time to Waste: The Urgent Mission of Betty Reid Soskin (52min, 2020) NO TIME TO WASTE celebrates legendary 98-year-old park ranger Betty Reid Soskin's inspiring life, work and urgent mission to restore critical missing chapters of America's story. The film follows her journey as an African American woman presenting her personal story from a kitchen stool in a national park theater to media interviews and international audiences who hang on every word she utters.
Passion of Joan of Arc (82 min., 1928) With its stunning camerawork and striking compositions, Carl Th. Dreyer'sThe Passion of Joan of Arc convinced the world that movies could be art. Reneé Falconetti gives one of the greatest performances ever recorded on film, as the young maiden who died for God and France. Long thought to have been lost to fire, the original version was miraculously found in perfect condition in 1981, in a Norwegian mental institution.
Under the Willow Tree: Pioneer Chinese Women in Canada (52min., 1999): In 1860, the first Chinese women landed in British Columbia, beginning a trickle of immigration despite a policy of excluding Asian females. While the New World used Chinese men to build the railroads, they were not encouraged to increase and multiply here. Under the Willow Tree tells a remarkable tale of courageous women who left their families behind in China, knowing they would never see them again.
Wild (115 min., 2014) With the dissolution of her marriage and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed has lost all hope. After years of reckless, destructive behavior, she makes a rash decision. With absolutely no experience, driven only by sheer determination, Cheryl hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone.
Women Entrepreneurs Making a Difference (24 min., 1998) The focus of this documentary is the unique entrepreneurial qualities that women possess and the spirit with which they face the challenges of their personal and business lives. The four women profiled are Canadian, of different races, cultures and ages, and representing a cross section of businesses. All the women are self made; none have inherited their businesses. Starting with very little, their vision, their wits and their hard work have overcome setbacks and helped them keep going.
During Covid, only IU faculty, staff and students can borrow materials from Media Services with a valid IU crimson card. Face masks are required. Be sure to check with Media Services for hours. VHS titles are housed off-site at ALF, and can be requested via IUCAT. Suggested keywords in IUCAT: women and...pioneers, music, religion, history. Limit to film & video, dvd/videodisc, Bloomington campus.
900 Women (73min., 2000): Director Alejandro Smith's grim documentary highlights "the Louisiana Correctional Institute, located in the swamps of southern Louisiana in the small town of St. Gabriel. Built in 1970, it houses the state's most dangerous female prisoners and often exceeds its population capacity of 900. Seventy-five percent of these women are mothers and one fourth are serving sentences of fifteen years or more. The prison compound has a surreal quality; there are no searchlight-capped towers or barbed wire fences.
Adio Kerida Goodbye Dear ( 82min., 2002): A personal journey about the search for identity and memory among Sephardic Jews with roots in Cuba. Anthropologist Ruth Behar returns to her native Cuba in search of the country's remaining Sephardic Jews and her family's ties to them. Presents a lyrical journey into Cuba's Jewish past and present-day that is filled with painful goodbyes and a belief in the possibility of return and renewal.
Girls in the Band, The (88min., 2014): Tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists and their fascinating, groundbreaking journeys from the late 1930s to the present day.
Gone with the Wind (233min., 1939): Margaret Mitchell's epic tale of the Civil war. When Scarlett O'Hara's beloved plantation life is destroyed by the Civil War, she single-mindedly rebuilds her privileged place in society, but loses her true love in the process.
The Help (146min., 2011): Tate Taylors award winning film takes place in 1960s Mississippi. Skeeter, a southern society girl, returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends' lives, and a small Mississippi town, upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Aibileen, Skeeter's best friend's housekeeper, is the first to open up, to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community.
I Am Curious - Blue (107min., 1968): This sequel to I am curious - yellow follows young Lena on her continuing journey of self-discovery. In Blue, Lena confronts issues of religion, sexuality and the prison system, while at the same time exploring her own personal relationships. Like I am curious - yellow, Blue freely traverses the lines between fact and fiction, employing a mix of dramatic and documentary techniques.
Love and Basketball (127min., 2000): Gina Prince-Bythewood's romantic comedy focuses on Monica and Quincy who taught each other how to play the game. Now, their commitment to the sport will force them to make a choice between each other and the game, between family and team, between love and basketball.
Pariah (97min., 2011): Filmmaker Dee Rees' Alike is a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents and younger sister in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. She has a flair for poetry and is a good student at her local high school. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity, sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.
Selma (128min., 2014): African American filmmaker Ava DuVernay depicts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1964.
Wild Women Don't Have the Blues (58min., 2007): Through historic performances and recordings, captures the spirit of such pioneering blues women as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters, Alberta Hunter, Ida Cox, and others.
Public Access to free streaming titles:
Online Resources: several of the links below are hubs for women interested in filmmaking, along with films produced, directed, and created by women.