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Top 10 documentaries with which to celebrate International Women's Day


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Last year we suggested some documentaries to see in order to celebrate International Women's Day by learning something new. This year we are bringing you an updated list with new titles to choose from! 

Women's world is massively diverse and interesting and it has stayed in the background of history for far too long! Here are some of our stories: 

1 The Hunting Ground

Suggested by Jo Bullen

The Hunting Ground is about the prevalence of sexual assault on US college campuses and 2 alumni of University of North Carolina who are helping others to bring legal cases against their universities for failing to look after women on campus. The exploration of how (in particular) sporting heroes are practically untouchable was eye-opening and makes us really root for the girls throughout it.

2. Advanced Style

A rather more light-hearted one, Advanced Style brings to light the seven women in their 60s to 90s, who have simply refused to adhere to social norms. The documentary was first a blog, started by Ari Seth Cohen, who found a distinct lack of older people in the fashion industry, and sought to remedy that by capturing “the sartorial savvy of the senior set”.

3 Growing up Coy

Suggested by Sneh Rupra

The transgender bathroom debate finds its home in a landmark 2013 case in Colorado. Coy Mathis, a six-year-old transgender girl was banned from using the girls’ bathroom when she entered first grade. The principal warned her parents that from now she can only use the boys’ or the nurse’s toilet, but rather than listen, her parents worked to fight that decision.

Growing up Coy tells the story of Coy’s upbringing and how her family worked towards challenging the school’s unconstitutional decision.

4. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Suggested by Sneh Rupra

Gracing us a couple of weeks after the tragic demise of both icons, Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds explores the relationship between the mother and daughter. Even now, Rotten Tomatoes keeps a rare 100% score for the film. It promises to be a bittersweet watch for any fan of either one of the two women.  

5. 13th

Suggested by Sneh Rupra

Written and directed by Ava Duvernay, 13th isn’t necessarily “feminist”, as we would immediately think of, but rather sits at various intersections.

The brilliant exploration of the 13th amendment, and the argument being made that the prison industrial complex stems directly from it is a must-see for any American feminist, as it’s vitally important to understand the various historical oppressions in that country.

6. India’s daughter

Brutal and sparing no detail, India’s daughter tells the story of the gang rape and murder of 23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh in Delhi in 2012.

The documentary is part of the BBC’s Storyville series and proved very controversial to the point it got banned in India.

7. Very Young Girls

Very Young Girls documents and exposes human trafficking in New York, where 13- and 14-year-old African-American girls are seduced, abused, and sold on the streets by pimps, while being treated as adult criminals by police.

It follows the work of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), a recovery centre founded and run by Rachel Lloyd, who is herself a survivor of sexual exploitation. Directed by David Schisgall and Nina Alvarez, the documentary hopes to challenge the way society views street prostitution and human trafficking that is happening even in one of the most developed countries.

8. Dark Girls

Dark Girls is a documentary that explores colorism based on skin tone among African Americans, which is a subject still considered taboo by many black Americans. The film touches on many overlooked topics and features interviews with notable African Americans including Viola Davis.

More importantly, it raises awareness of the growing trend of skin bleaching creams, which is now a multibillion pound business industry. Filmmakers Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry explore how black women try to look more Caucasian, and risk their health doing so.

9. Girl Rising

Produced by Kayce Freed, Tom Yellin and Holly Gordon, Girl Rising tells the story of nine girls from nine countries: Sierra Leone, Haiti, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Peru, Egypt, Nepal, India and Cambodia.

Each of these stories reflect the societal and cultural difficulties they have to work against. The film has kickstarted a movement and it also features narration from Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Liam Neeson, Priyanka Chopra, Chloë Grace Moretz, Freida Pinto, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys and Kerry Washington.

10 !Women Art Revolution

!Women Art Revolution explores the "secret history" of feminist art, building an impressive collection of conversations, observations, archival footage, and works of visionary artists, historians, curators and critics.

First, the film focuses on 1960s anti-war and civil rights protests before moving onto major developments in feminist art in the 70s in a lovely, colourful and meaningful watch.

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