This month’s crowdfunding picks all feature women breaking glass ceilings in male-oriented fields. “Mothers of Men” is a newfound 1917 suffrage film about a woman running for governor in 1917 — three years before American women even won the right to vote. With “The American Side,” director Jenna Ricker takes a swing at a traditionally male genre: the ’70s neo-noir. “Paper Chase” is a teen comedy about black female friendship. And “She Started It” documents five young female tech entrepreneurs’ struggle to succeed in a male-dominated field.
Here are this month’s crowdfunding picks.
Sarah Gavron’s “Suffragette” shows the British women’s fight for the ballot from a 2015 perspective, but how did those activists’ contemporaries depict the movement? Few early suffragette films exist, but archivist James Mockoski has discovered a single, worn-out copy of the 1917 silent suffrage melodrama “Mothers of Men.” Partnering with the Library of Congress, the British Film Institute and The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, Mockoski is working to restore this rare and historically important film. Written by Hal Reid and directed by Willis Robards, “Mothers of Men” follows Clara Madison (Dorothy Davenport), who first becomes a judge, then becomes the first woman to win a governor’s election. Once in office, she finds herself in a moral dilemma, torn between her loyalty to her husband and her political responsibility. “Must marriage mean the sacrifice of woman’s ambition, her most cherished ideals?” asks the film, which was commended by the National Woman’s Party, the Woman Suffrage Party, the League of Women Voters, the Business and Professional Women’s Association and The Women’s Club back in the day.
Help the film come back to life by supporting its crowdfunding campaign.
The American Side – Directed by Jenna Ricker
“The American Side” is an independent neo-noir mystery in the style of ’70s conspiracy films. Starring Greg Stuhr, Matthew Broderick, Camilla Belle, Robert Forster, Janeane Garofalo, Alicja Bachleda and Robert Vaughn, the film follows a detective drawn into a conspiracy involving missing pages from scientist Nikola Tesla’s 100-year-old notebook.
The key crew members are evenly split by gender, and according to director Jenna Ricker, the smartest characters are female.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘It’s such a dark, twisty mystery. I wouldn’t expect that from a female director,'” says Ricker. Let’s change that. “The American Side” is finished, but needs help funding its theatrical release. If you want to see the film at the arthouse, as the atmospheric and beautifully shot film is meant to be seen, head over to the film’s Kickstarter campaign before December 10.
Set in New Orleans, “Paper Chase” is a comedy following a teenage girl’s inventive and uncompromising attempt to raise money for college. In their Kickstarter campaign, writers Angela Tucker and Lauren Domino say that they grew up loving teen comedies such as “American Graffiti,” “Say Anything” and “Superbad,” but were frustrated about the lack of black people in the cast. Equally upset about the statistics of women of color working in the film industry, the pair decided to make their own movie — by black women about black women, with a female friendship at its core. While touching upon race, class and gentrification, the film is a comedy about two driven young women. “It’s important to us to show the experience of black women on screen, not of suffering but of comedic joy and agency,” say the creators.
If you also want to see a teen comedy about black female friendship, support the project’s Kickstarter campaign before December 4.
Tech entrepreneurs are the rock stars of our generation, bathed in prestige, money and media attention. And, like the film industry, the field is super male-dominated. Only three percent of all tech start-ups are founded by women. With the documentary “She Started It,” journalists and filmmakers Nora Poggi and Insiyah Saeed spotlight five young women attempting to turn the situation around and break through the glass ceiling. The film follows a quintet of female tech entrepreneurs aged 19 to 29 during their ups and downs in pursuing their dream start-up businesses. “We want to shine a light on new role models to inspire the next generation,” say the filmmakers in their Indiegogo campaign, which you can support until December 16.