Surviva (1980)


This short narrative is structured in a wishful-filmmaking or fanumentary” genre. Rural women artists who share their work unite to bring womens art publicly forward and available in their community. This refreshing weave of footage richly combines animation, nature shots and live action into a powerful story of actualization.

Surviva is the last film produced under the banner of a ‘Women Make Movies production’, before the organization settled into remarkable thirty-nine productions were made under this feminist teaching and producing rubric between 1969 and 1980.  Surviva premiered at the Women Make Movies film festival in 1981 and went onto win a Merit Award at the 1981 International Athens Film Festival. It was shown widely in the Catskill region, where most of the film was shot, and the film was also presented at the 1981 New York State Governor’s Conference on Rural Women. Due to its nature shots and how it was perceived as an extension of ‘home movies’, archivist Melissa Dollman wrote about Surviva in her essay Opening the Can: Home Movies in the Public Space”, in Amateur Movie Making (2017). When shown today, women are inspired by the energy of the women’s art sharing circle and consider starting a support group of their own. Most significantly, Surviva operates in a genre of improvisational actions, by non-actors relying on their own words; real people enacting a story close to themselves but amplifying more of their own lives.

Filmmaker Bio: For over fifty years, Ariel Dougherty has been a media leader and an advocate for feminist and independent media. She has mentored hundreds of women and youth to create their own stories in cinema and been a producer on significant award winning films, including the Women Make Movies’ production Healthcaring (1976) and Lynn Hershmann’s Women Art Revolution (2010), (for which Ariel raised a single $100,000contribution). In 1973, to broaden the reach of feminist and independent film, Ariel established Women Make Movies’ distribution service that dispelled the myth that women were not an audience” and provided critical earned income for the nascent organization. Ariel was one of the two co-founders of Women Make Movies, Inc. and served on its Board of Directors for a total of fifteen years, from 1972-1979 and again from 1987-1995. She also curated Women’s Work in Film and Video” at the Women’s Studio Workshop, (1979-1986), and initiated a micro cinema in her rural New Mexico town that showcased independent works monthly until Covid hit. In 2005, Ariel initiated Media Equity, to advocate for increased support