Amidst the current strife and conflict, what a relief that our theaters are open. Movies are needed more than ever right now—not just for the escape, but because movies can offer a rallying cry and a platform for voices that too often go unheard.
That being said, for those who are taking advantage of our Virtual Movie Palace, the movies never left. Right now, through November 1, we have another terrific social justice documentary available virtually, RESISTERHOOD from director Cheryl Jacobs Crim. The film follows the inspiring stories of six activists and their paths over the last four years to fight discrimination and injustice within the boundaries of the law.
Although it is framed around the consequences of the 2016 election, Resisterhood remains incredibly relevant. We meet some long-standing activists and some new to the game, all of whom are using their diverse voices to speak out and represent those that American history has silenced for generations.
We follow Dr. Jean Gearon (“The Organizer”), whose great-grandmother was a suffragist who participated in the Women’s March of 1913; Margaret Morrison (“The Marcher”), a grandmother who has been attending marches since Selma to Montgomery in 1962; Former Representative Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois and Soraida Gutiérrez (“The Insiders”), campaigning for their daughter Jessica’s run for Chicago City Council; Joanna Lohman (“The Motivational Speaker”), a professional soccer player who ignites crowds with her words regarding activism and LGBTQ+ rights; and Mimi Hassanein (“The Candidate”), an Egyptian Immigrant running for a county office in Maryland.
Each of these Resisters have stories to tell and tearful words to explain what motivated their grassroot activism and why they continue to resist and persist. Mimi Hassanein wears her hijab amidst public xenophobia but takes it off while she’s driving for fear of her life and persists in hopes that her grandchildren will grow up in a more accepting world. Joanna Lohman, the self-proclaimed “Rainbow Warrior”, persists for a better understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. And Margaret Morrison returns to march again and again, even though she feels there is just as much risk for her life as there was when she walked with John Lewis and Dr. King.
Though their stories have been evolving for a lifetime, we pick up on their journeys at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington D.C., where the film begins, a moment of optimism and passion. From there the film counts the days of the current administration as controversy and tragedy continue to strike and halt progress. Crim gives her subjects’ actions an immense weight, taking every opportunity to flash back to the American civil rights moment, and goes even further in at least one instance to examine the genealogy of many Black Americans whose ancestral identity was lost and muddled by the African slave trade. She reminds us that for those who have been disenfranchised their entire lives, this resistance is centuries old and this moment will have its place among the greatest fights (and victories) in our history books.
As this documentary was primarily filmed in 2017 and 2018, at times it’s difficult to hear the subjects lament for the urgency of 2020, not knowing what the future holds. However, once Crim leaves us with an optimistic finale, she adds a tag at the very end with a title card, “this is how the film was supposed to end”, and then flashes forward to this past summer and the powder keg of violence that erupted across our nation. It’s a dark moment, but it doubles down on the film’s urgency and further accentuates Mimi Hassanein’s plea: “We need to learn how to open our heart and mind”. If only it were that easy but viewing and sharing this film (and voting) is a good place to start.
Watch this and then if you haven’t yet, make sure to check out THE FIGHT, which follows a scrappy team of ACLU lawyers in the battle over abortion, immigrant, LGBTQ and voting rights – playing in our Virtual Movie Palace. And at the Michigan Theater on Tuesday, Oct. 27, don’t miss JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE playing on the big screen in the historic Main Auditorium. It’s just as much about voting rights in America as it is about the remarkable John Lewis. Extraordinarily timely in this current moment.
Stay safe, stay healthy, vote early, and have a terrific rest of your week!
#SaveYourCinema #SaveIndieFIlm #Vote #WearYourMask