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DOC NYC Women Directors: Meet Mary Dore – ‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’

DOC NYC Women Directors: Meet Mary Dore - 'She's Beautiful When She's Angry'

Mary Dore is an award-winning documentary producer who brings an
activist perspective to her films. Dore grew up in Auburn, Maine, and
began her career working with a Boston film collective that produced
independent historical documentaries, including Children of Labor
(1977), which premiered at the New York Film Festival. She produced and co-directed the feature documentary The Good Fight: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War
(with Noel Buckner and Sam Sills), which screened at the Toronto,
Sundance, and London Film Festivals. She has also produced dozens of
television documentaries for PBS, New York Times TV, A&E, and the
Discovery Channel. Her TV work has won Emmys, Cine Golden Eagles, and
Cable Ace Awards. 

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry will play at DOC NYC on November 16 and opens in theatres on December 5. 

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

MD: She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry resurrects the buried history of
the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s
movement from 1966 to 1971. She’s Beautiful
takes us from the founding of NOW, with ladies in hats and gloves, to
the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation, from
intellectuals like Kate Millett to the street theatrics of WITCH
(Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell!). It does not shy
away from controversies over race, sexual preference, and leadership
that arose within the women’s movement, and brilliantly captures the
spirit of the time — thrilling, scandalous, and often hilarious.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

was active in the women’s movement a bit later than the women in
the film. As a documentary filmmaker, it amazed me that the subject was
so neglected. It was arguably the biggest social movement of the last
century, yet doesn’t get the respect of other 1960s movements for reasons both complex and very simple: it’s about women.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

MD: Funding,
by far. It was very difficult to convince funders that this was a
story that hadn’t been told in this way and that the film could
draw a broad audience. Now that we’re going to show theatrically
in at least 40 cities, that point seems settled.

place goes to finding a structure for the film, since it was
thematic, rather than strictly chronological. Thanks to editors Nancy
Kennedy and Kate Taverna, along with Ana Crenovich and Michelle Chang
for their efforts — it wasn’t easy!

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the

want people to feel empowered by these stories and angry that
women’s rights have to be fought for time and time again. I’ve
been told by viewers that the film makes them want to have
discussions with other women around the kitchen table, and if that
happens, great!

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

MD: Find
a subject that you’re passionate about, and don’t be deterred.
Never apologize, unless you’ve spilled hot coffee on someone. And
if your subject is about women and people think that’s inherently
boring, don’t listen to them!

MD: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

MD: This
isn’t unique to this film, but the bias against historical
documentaries — that history is boring, the cod liver oil of
filmmaking. I love history and feel honored to help these women
tell their amazing stories.

W&H: How did you get
your film funded? 

MD: Foundation
grants big and small, private donors, and a great Kickstarter
campaign that brought us $81,549 and 1231 new donors. That was a
great experience (and exhausting) because it showed the passion that
people had for the subject, that they would actually invest in it.
The funding struggle slowed us down in some ways, like not being able
to shoot the interviews in one fell swoop. But the time it took also
benefited us and made for a deeper, more complex film.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

MD: My
Brilliant Career
directed by Gillian Armstrong, inspired me as a young filmmaker. It
was revelatory to tell the story of a young woman who was full of
spirit and inchoate longings, and not a conventional beauty.
Brilliantly directed, sexy and brave, particularly the ending where
she chooses to stay independent. I saw it again recently, and it is
still a breathtaking, radical film.

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