Filmed in 1969, SOMETIMES I WONDER WHO I AM was one of the earliest films of the Women’s Movement. For women brought up in the soap commercial optimism of the time, it articulated the fear which caught them unawares as they found themselves isolated in their homes, cleaning up after their children, and dreaming of the careers they might have had.
“[My husband]… never had to choose between being a father and having a career … I think he thinks that caring for house and baby is women’s work … It seems the jobs for women are less rewarding than being home … I get the feeling people think of me only as my husband’s wife and my baby’s mother . . . I’m really worried about what is going to happen to me in ten years.”
This poignant brief portrait of a young mother grew out of the experiences of a group of women who found – as they haltingly expressed to one another their feelings of emptiness, anger, and fear – that they were not alone. Many of these feelings are still real for women today. The film was widely used in programs and discussion groups in public libraries, community organizations, women’s groups, and women’s studies in high schools and colleges across the country. It aired on WGBH-TV Boston in 1970.
Sometimes I Wonder Who I Am was based on the feelings women expressed in Brandon’s Bread and Roses collective in Cambridge, MA, one of the first “Women’s Liberation” groups in the country, in 1969. This short film became one of the first independent films of the fledgling Women’s Movement. It helped to give voice to a generation of American women whose expectations, opportunities and career choices were extremely limited. The film is historically and artistically significant. It raised issues that had rarely been dealt with on film. At the time, there were few women making films and even fewer films dealing with women’s political issues. This was one of the first films to be used in consciousness raising groups. Because it broke new ground, Sometimes I Wonder Who I Am was at the forefront of both the Women’s Movement and in the (until then predominantly male) independent political film movement. It helped to demonstrate that film could be a powerful tool to raise social consciousness and promote change in regard to critical women’s issues.
News of the film spread primarily through word of mouth and women’s movement newsletters. (There was no internet, cable, email, YouTube, etc. and network TV wasn’t interested.) Although the distribution network was informal and Brandon shipped the prints from her home, the film was screened by hundreds of libraries, colleges and women’s consciousness raising groups across the US and in Canada. The film was screened at the legendary Orson Wells Theatre in Cambridge, MA, the Netherlands Film Museum in Amsterdam, and was featured in the Women in Film Tour sponsored by the Canadian Government. Aired on WGBH-TV, Boston in 1970, Sometimes I Wonder Who I Am was one of the earliest “feminist” films shown on public television. It was later distributed by New Day Films, the cooperative that Brandon co-founded in 1971.
Filmmaker Bio: Liane Brandon’s work as a filmmaker has been dedicated to exploring social issues, particularly issues that are important to women – and to encourage others to do the same. “I began making films in 1967 as a way to engage students in an inner-city school where I was teaching. At that time, I joined Newsreel, an early anti-war film group where I worked on draft resistance films. At Newsreel, women rarely got to hold the cameras or direct the films we made. Instead, we were sent for coffee.” ~ Liane Brandon
Keenly aware of the limited opportunities for women in all aspects of life, Brandon joined Bread and Roses in 1969, one of the first Women’s Liberation groups in Massachusetts. Sometimes I wonder Who I Am, Brandon’s first film about women’s issues, was based on the ideas discussed in the group. Seeing the demand for that film, Brandon recognized the importance of film as powerful consciousness-raising and educational tool. In 1971, using funds raised by the women’s collective and a 16mm camera borrowed from the school’s football team, Brandon made Anything You Want To Be. The following year she made Betty Tells Her Story. “I didn’t know at the time that these would become two of the most widely used films of the Women’s Movement – or that I had unwittingly become one of the first independent women filmmakers in New England.” ~ Liane Brandon