A Century of Women

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Release date: 1994
Directed by: Judy Korin, Sylvia Morales, Barbara Kopple, Christen Harty Schaefer
Running time: 3 Episodes á 95 minutes

On the basis of diaries, photographs, letters and memoirs of historically important women, "A Century of Women" sheds light on the history of American women in the 20th century. Film stars like Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Amy Irving, Sally Field and many others were prepared to give these women a voice. The film consists of three parts.

Part 1: Work and Family shows the historical struggle by women for a well-balanced division of their time between family life and paid labour is examined. Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Friedman are two out of many women who appear in this section. It deals with the struggles of twentieth-century women to balance work, Marriage and motherhood – often a matter of survival.

Part 2: Sexuality and Social Justice deals with the extent to which women can determine what happens to their body and with the aspiration for social equality. It treats the ideas of Gloria Steinem, Erica Jong and Shere Hite, among others. Also, a comprehensive look at women’s efforts to shape their own destinies and establish a system of justice for themselves and all Americans. Issues touched upon range from Margaret Sanger’s crusade to provide all women a means of birth control to the Women’s liberation Movement.

Part 3: Image and Popular Culture shows the changing representation of women in films, on television, in magazines and in art. This section features Bessie Smith, Lucille Ball and Laura Dern, to name a few. The documentary images centre around a fictional story about a family. “A Century of Women” contains a wealth of rare archive footage, coming from ‘The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library’, which concentrates on the documentation of the history of American women.