Three films preserved by the NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund have been added to the National Film Registry!
On December 14th, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the 2022 selection of 25 films to be inducted into the National Film Registry. This year, the distinction has been given to three films supported by the NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund (WFPF): Attica! (1974), Betty Tells Her Story (1972), and Union Maids (1976).
The committee is overjoyed to see these seminal classics of feminist filmmaking receive such a prestigious honor, and the recognition they truly deserve.
WFPF preservation grant awarded in 2006 to the New York Public Library
“Attica…is an exceptionally moving, outraged recollection of that terrible event. It’s a documentary record of the event itself, the conditions that helped prompt it, and some of the things that have (and haven’t) happened since. Though it asks questions that go unanswered, it is surprisingly temperate in tone.”
– Vincent Canby, The New York Times
This documentary details the 1971 prisoner uprising at Attica, initiated in protest of deplorable conditions. Uniting across lines of race and ideology, prisoners created a manifesto, and after four days of negotiations, Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered military action to retake the prison by force. 43 men were killed in the government-sponsored massacre, and surviving prisoners were beaten and tortured. This monumental investigation of the rebellion and its aftermath assembled documentary footage of the occupation and ensuing assault with video from the McKay Commission hearings and first-hand interviews with prisoners. Filmmaker Cinda Firestone Fox revealed to Americans the troubling circumstances around incarceration and human rights that were previously ignored.
Betty Tells Her Story (1972)
WFPF preservation grant awarded in 2008 to Liane Brandon
“A groundbreaking classic of feminist filmmaking and a subtle and heartbreaking parable about disillusionment, the oppression of imposed gender roles, and the workings of memory,”
– Peter Keough, The Boston Globe
Deceptively simple in its approach, the director, Liane Brandon, in two separate takes films Betty recalling her search for the perfect dress for an upcoming special occasion. During the first take, Betty describes in delightful detail how she found just the right one, spent more than she could afford, felt absolutely transformed… and never got to wear it. Brandon then asks her to tell the story again, and this time her account becomes more nuanced, personal and emotional, revealing her underlying feelings. Betty Tells Her Story, is the poignant tale of beauty, identity and a dress. It was the first independent film of the Women’s Movement to explore the issues of body image, self-worth and beauty in American culture -and it has become one of the most enduring.
Union Maids (1976)
WFPF preservation grant awarded in 2014 to Julia Reichert
“Union Maids is a rare film about three magnificent women… it’s the best film on labor history I have ever seen.”
– Howard Zinn
An Oscar-nominated documentary directed by Julia Reichert, James Klein, and Miles Mogulescu, Union Maids tells the story of three female Union workers in the 1930s and their days of conflict and confrontation with American corporations. The three women — Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, Sylvia Woods — emerge as unique, compelling voices. Union Maids is an oral history film made (possibly the first) from the first-person stories of three older women activists who were veterans of the struggle to form industrial unions and fight the Great Depression in the 1930’s and early 40’s.