Women in Film and Video: October President’s Message

Rebecca - National Archives Monument to DreamThe St. Louis arch, gateway to the West in the United States, rises from the ground to a height of 630 feet at its tallest point. It’s the result of painstaking engineering, incredible coordination, and a good dose of American grit and determination.  As I sat in the audience at the National Archive’s McGowan Theater waiting for the screening of “Monument to the Dream”, Charles Guggenheim’s documentary film about the making of this American monument, I enjoyed that hushed moment when the formal introductions have finished, the lights in the theater are dimming, but the film hasn’t yet begun to project onto the screen.  At this moment, the audience is waiting to be transported, to be moved, and with the best documentary films, even challenged in our beliefs.

As the film began, we were definitely transported. Filmed in 1967, Guggenheim captured steel workers climbing ever-increasing heights with no tether or harness in sight.  In today’s world of legal cautionary tales, this would be unheard of.  They were relentless in pushing the project forward, which involved carefully positioning each segment of steel into place, reinforcing it internally with rebar and cement, and checking constantly with the engineering team for variations in the design.  It was noted in the Q&A discussion that not a single life was lost during the construction of the monument.

The arch met with incredible resistance at the beginning of the construction project, and workers dealt with feedback like “Why are you working on that?” and “Isn’t that an anti-American design?” They persevered and remained true to their vision, despite the fact that the general public was unsupportive and critical.  And on the last day when the final segment of steel was ready to be installed, the workers were surprised to look down and see the large crowd assembled on the ground far below, cheering them as they cooled the steel with water and slowly pushed the two sides of the arch apart to allow room for the exact size required for the last piece of steel.

Our vision for Women in Film & Video this year also requires thoughtful planning, fearless execution, and relentless pursuit of our goals. Our events, programs, and fiscal sponsorships are like those two steel sides slowly rising into the sky to create a gateway, a view into new territory for filmmakers.  And you are those fearless workers assembling each piece, climbing without a net, and constantly adjusting for changes around you.  It’s no easy task to push forward knowing that the general public may not understand your vision for your art.  As an industry, many do not share WIFV’s vision for gender equity both in front of and behind the camera.  Here are a few ways WIFV can help you actualize your vision:

Support Your Design

Reach New Heights

Whether you contribute to the Documentary Seed Fund, celebrate Women of Vision Joan Darling and Dawn Porter in November, or simply take advantage of the opportunities to learn about your craft from recognized industry professionals like Hollywood Producer Michael Uslan, you have an important role to play in WIFV’s work to create a sustainable, supportive organization for filmmakers and media professionals. Special thanks to Grace Guggenheim, Woman of Vision 2010, for her ongoing support of Women in Film & Video.

Changing media one story at a time,

Learn more at WIFV.org



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