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Determined Women at Work (PG*) + introduction by Bonnie Greer

Artists & Activists

Still from Illusions

Two contrasting cinematic portraits of women at work, revealing that when did succeed in the workplace, it was often at great personal cost.

This double-bill shows determined women to succeeded in the workplace, but were often forced to deny who they really were or to battle daily for the same worker’s rights afforded to men. They were exploited by male bosses, expected to work for lower wages than men in parallel positions, and vulnerable to sexual harassment. And for African-American women, these problems were compounded by racism.

The first, a narrative film centred on a light-skinned black studio executive who must hide her race to succeed in the male-dominated industry; and the second is an oral history of three female unionists in the Great Depression.



Set in 1942, at a fictitious Hollywood studio, this narrative film centres on a light-skinned black studio executive, Mignon Dupree, who hides her racial identity to pursue her career. While focused on racial prejudice, the film also depicts the male-dominated workplace where men with power view women as fair prey and woman with ambition and vision face obstacles. As events unfold, Dupree contends with an industry that doesn’t want to give black women visible roles and a society that perpetuates false images.

US 1983 Dir Julie Dash 34 min Digital presentation
Preserved with support from NYWIFT’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund


Union Maids

Three older women activists (two white and one an African-American), veterans of the struggle to form industrial unions and fight the Great Depression in the 1930s and early 40s, tell their stories, in what may be the first ‘oral history’ documentary. An Oscar nominee, the film was widely used on picket lines, in labour education, at union meetings, women’s centres, women’s studies classes and leftist gatherings.

US 1976 Dirs Julia Reichert, James Klein, Miles Mogeluscu 53 min Digital presentation
Preserved with support from NYWIFT’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund


Total run time 87 min

*This film has been locally classified by the City of London Corporation

Curated by: Ann Deborah Levy and Kirsten Larvick, Co-Chairs, the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, with programming assistance from Susan Lazarus and Amy Aquilino

Bonnie Greer was born in Chicago, Illinois and is a former New Yorker and participant in the city’s innovative 'Downtown Culture' of the late ‘70s to mid ‘80s . She was also part of the Black Students Movement of the early '70s, where she became politically active. She has lived in the UK since 1986, and has been a dual national US/UK citizen for over 20 years.  She is the author of numerous plays, books, and a libretto. Her last play was produced in 2016 during the run-up to the 2016 American election.  She is a frequent cultural and political commentator on TV and was awarded an OBE for her contribution to the arts.

The Women's Film Preservation Fund (WFPF) is the only programme in the world dedicated to preserving the cultural legacy of women in the industry through preserving films made by women. Founded in 1995 by New York Women in Film & Television in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), WFPF has preserved more than 150 American films in which women have played key creative roles. These include works by early feminists, women of colour, social activists and artists that represent unique and irreplaceable contributions to American cinematic heritage. Films already preserved range from those of early pioneers, Lois Weber and Alice Guy Blaché, experimental filmmaker, Maya Deren, animator Mary Ellen Bute, to more contemporary feature director Julie Dash; director and cinematographer Jessie Maple; documentarians Trinh T. Minh-ha and Barbara Kopple, and more. The WFPF is rewriting the film history books, one moving picture at a time. 

More information can be found online at:  

New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT) supports women calling the shots in film, television and digital media. NYWIFT energises the careers of women in entertainment by illuminating their achievements, providing training and professional development, and advocating for equality. The preeminent entertainment industry association for women in New York, NYWIFT brings together nearly 2,100 women and men working both above and below the line. NYWIFT is part of a network of 40 women in film chapters worldwide, representing more than 10,000 members.

More information can be found online at:

Part of The Art of Change

Our 2018 season explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.


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