NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund’s SPOTLIGHT: Presents Groundbreaking Documentaries of the 1970s: Betty Tells Her Story & The Wobblies

The NYWIFT Womens Film Preservation Fund (WFPF) is supporting these two groundbreaking films for nomination to this years National Film Registry. We believe these films have made a crucial contribution to American cinema and deserve a spot on the list.   

Please join us for this special program of two WFPF preserved films followed by a panel conversation with directors Liane Brandon, Deborah Shaffer, and moderated by award-winning documentarian Mirra Bank.


The Wobblies (Deborah Shaffer, Stewart Bird, 1979 RT: 90min) is a joyous chronicle of the Industrial Workers of the World, combining rare newsreel footage, interviews with former members, cartoons, posters, artwork and songs from the period to lovingly evoke the passion, energy and commitment of the Wobblies. The film is surprisingly relevant today, in its depiction of the struggles over working conditions, migrant workers, immigration and deportation, and the Chicago trial of 101 IWW leaders and rank and file members in 1921 that presages the Chicago 7 conspiracy trial of 1970. The Wobblies was preserved to film through a WFPF grant in 2003 and received a 4k digital restoration in 2021 through the Museum of Modern Art. Distributed by Kino Lorber. 

Betty Tells Her Story (Liane Brandon, 1972 RT: 20min) is the poignant tale of beauty, identity and a dress – and it is considered a classic of documentary filmmaking. It is the saga of Bettys search for the perfect dress” – how she found just the right one . . . and never got to wear it. Then Betty tells her story again. The contrast between the two stories is haunting. Made in 1972, it was the first independent film of the Womens Movement to explore the issues of body image, self-worth and beauty in American culture – and it has become one of the most enduring. Betty Tells Her Story was preserved through a WFPF grant in 2008. Distributed by New Day Films.

To date over 700 films have been added to the Registry. Approximately 60 of these films on the list are women directed works. These films are incredibly important and include WFPF-preserved titles, but wed like to see this number increase exponentially. This would help increase awareness of womens contribution and place in cinematic history and reflect the diverse significant voices we bring to the art form.

The nomination form link closes on September 15, 2021, so be sure to get your nominations in before the deadline! Click here to access the link.


Streaming Dates: Sept 3rd-Sept 7th

How to See the Film: A link will be sent out 

Cost: $2 NYWIFT Members / $3 Non-Members + Q&A is Free for all 

Q&A: Tuesday, September 7th at 5:00pm EST. 


Register Here



Liane Brandon is an award winning independent filmmaker, photographer and University of Massachusetts/Amherst Professor Emeritus.  She was one of the first independent women filmmakers to emerge from the Women’s Movement.  Her groundbreaking films include Anything You Want To Be, Betty Tells Her Story, Once Upon A Choice and How To Prevent A Nuclear War.  They have won numerous awards and have been featured on HBO, Cinemax, and TLC and at MoMA, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Barbican Centre in London and the Tribeca Film Festival and many other venues.  She is a co-founder of New Day Films. Currently working as a still photographer, her photography credits include stills for the PBS series American Experience, Nova, and American Masters Her photos have been published in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe and many other publications.  Before becoming a filmmaker, Brandon experimented with several short careers, working as a ski instructor, file clerk, high school teacher and professional stunt woman.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Deborah Shaffer began making social issue documentaries as a member of the Newsreel collective the ‘70’s. She co-founded Pandora Films, one of the first women’s film companies, which produced several shorts. Her first feature documentary, The Wobblies, premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1979. During the 80’s Shaffer focused on human rights in Central America and Latin America, directing many films including Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements which won the Academy Award for Short Documentary in 1985, and Fire From the Mountain and Dance of Hope which both played at the Sundance Film Festival. Shaffer directed one of the first post-September 11 films, From the Ashes: 10 Artists followed by From the Ashes: Epilogue, which premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals. She is also the Executive Producer of the Academy Award-nominated short Asylum, and has directed numerous acclaimed public television programs on women and the arts. She directed and produced To Be Heard, which won awards at numerous festivals and aired nationwide on PBS. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award by the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Her most recent film, Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack premiered at DOC NYC, and has won numerous awards.

Mirra Bank is an Academy member whose work has international reach.  Her filmmaking began with editorial contributions to Woodstock (Academy Award), Gimme Shelter, and Harlan County, USA ( Academy Award), followed by producing work for innovative public television series: The 51st State (Emmy), Woman Alive!, and The Originals: Women in Art. Her first indie documentary, Yudie, premiered at the NY Film Festival, aired on PBS, and is currently available on Criterion. In films like Enormous Changes (Sundance) and Nobody’s Girls (PBS), Bank focused on the experiences of women and underrepresented communities. In her Oscar-shortlisted feature documentary, Last Dance, Bank followed a fierce, holocaust-themed collaboration between Pilobolus Dance Theatre and Maurice Sendak. Her human rights-baseball feature documentary, The Only Real Game, was shot in strife-torn Manipur, India. It premiered on Netflix, and won the “American Spirit Award” at Sedona International Film Festival. Most recently, Bank filmed No Fear No Favor in wilderness areas on the front lines of Africa’s poaching crisis. The film won both the Hamptons DocFest “Filmmakers’ Choice Award” and “Environmental Award,” among others, including “Outstanding Cinematography” at TallGrass Film Festival. A past president of NYWIFT, Bank serves on NYWIFT’s Advisory Board, as well as on the Advisory Boards of the Bronx Documentary Center, and the Sag Harbor Cinema. 

Produced by

September 3 @ 5:00pm — September 7 @ 6:00pm
5:00 pm — 6:00 pm (97h)

Free Virtual Q and A



Join the conversation on social media:
#nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.