Watch This Now: A Feminist Film That Disappeared for More Than 40 Years
By Danica Lo
For the first time in more than 40 years, the groundbreaking feminist documentary "Year of the Woman" — and, according to The Washington Post, "too radical, too weird and too far ahead of its time for any distributor to touch" film that debuted in 1973 in New York City's then-edgy (now fancy) Greenwich Village, capturing a pivotal moment in American women's history, before Roe v. Wade — is available in wide distribution (thank you, Internet).
The documentary, shot by an all-women crew, "captures the likes of Coretta Scott King, Shirley MacClaine, and other well-known feminist leaders of the '70s" at a time in American history that was both groundbreakingly progressive:
The setting is the Democratic convention in Miami Beach. The time is July 1972. New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm has just completed a groundbreaking campaign for the presidency ("I ran because someone had to do it first," she would later write), and the National Women’s Political Caucus, founded by icons including Betty Friedan, Dorothy Height, and Gloria Steinem, is trying to leverage women's power at a political convention for the first time.
The feminist activists want Democratic candidate George McGovern to make the legalization of abortion a part of his platform. And it all goes terribly wrong. McGovern's campaign instructs his delegates not to support the abortion plank and allows an anti-abortion activist to speak from the floor. The betrayal feels so deep that Steinem eventually tells Nora Ephron, through tears, "They won't take us seriously. … I'm just tired of being screwed, and being screwed by my friends."
After the film premiere in 1973, it ran for five days and subsequently disappeared for decades — surfacing only occasionally at film festivals around the country.
As of this week, you can catch "Year of the Woman" exclusively on Vimeo on Demand.
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