By Kristin Reiber Harris
In mid-September 2020, NYWIFT Executive Director Cynthia Lopez moderated a conversation with Julie Taymor and Kimberly Guerrero about the film The Glorias, released on Amazon September 30. Based on Gloria Steinem’s memoir My Life on the Road, director Julie Taymor has created a powerful, inventive look at the life of a feminist leader and icon. After her first read, Taymor said “no way, this is a road trip book” but the story grabbed her because it was obviously a significant one that needed to be told.
One of Gloria Steinem’s strengths as a leader has been her alliances with other feminists. The movie highlights numerous of these relationships. Actress Kimberly Guerrero plays Wilma Mankiller, Cherokee activist and first female chief. Their relationship in the film is representative of the respect and support Steinem provided her friends. Other women prominent in this stage of the feminist movement featured in the film include Bella Abzug, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Flo Kennedy and Dolores Huerta.
Guerrero brought a poignant synergy to the film in this role because she had portrayed Wilma Mankiller in the 2013 film The Cherokee Word for Water. She expressed her appreciation for the inclusion on Native women in important media projects. Guerrero also spoke tearfully of Mankiller’s death scene and how it resonated with the entire cast and crew. It provided an opportunity for the Native cast and crew to express their views on death.
Lopez asked Taymor to talk about her creative vision. She has created a body of strongly visual work, including the film Frida and Broadway’s The Lion King. Taymor said she decides on a theme for her projects, then focuses on the visuals even to the extent of coming up with an ideograph/icon. For The Glorias it was a bus. This makes sense, it is a road trip movie.
It is no coincidence that this film is being released in 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. Taymor indicated if it weren’t for COVID, she would be on a bus right then touring the swing states showing this film to women’s groups and mobilizing the vote. Taymor’s parting ask was that we all watch the movie with a friend and get the word out about the film and vote.
I cried when I saw the trailer.. Perhaps I am just prone to tears, but in the early 70’s I was a recent college graduate and this was my world. The title references Gloria at various ages, and as an older woman, I can relate to these dialogues with our former selves. Gloria Steinem remains a powerful role model as is Julie Taymor. Watch the film with a friend, socially distancing or online together. And vote.
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