Filmmaker Amy Kasparian (Suffolk University) explains below the background to the short films Women in the Law and Thinking in Gender Terms of the Law Firm.
|Representatives of the National Association of Women Lawyers|
en route to meeting with President Herbert Hoover, Apr 2, 1930.
Front row, left to right: Oregon attorney Olive Stott Gabriel,
Washington College of Law dean Grace Hays Riley,
Mississippi attorney Laura Berrien, and
future District Court judge Burnita Shelton Matthews.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Div.
With Kate’s guidance and inspiration, we set out to create our own short films about what it means to be a woman in the law. As true students of the law, our work began with a lot of reading. We read about the historical foundations for women’s claims to formal equality; we read constitutional law cases about women’s rights to equal treatment; we read cases about remedying past discrimination; we read accounts of women in the legal profession; we read about domestic violence, sexual harassment in the workplace, reproductive health, and prostitution.
Then, we read about the filmmaking process. The book Documentary Storytelling: Creative Nonfiction on Screen by Sheila Curran Bernard proved to be a useful tool for first-time filmmakers. The book served as a step-by-step guide and helped answer our questions as we made our films.
The hardest part of creating a film for our particular group was unique: We spent weeks trying to decide on a topic as a class. Ultimately, we realized that instead of compromising and settling on one story, we should divide and make our own. That way, people would be free to express their experiences in their own ways.
When all was said and done, we realized these two films complemented each other by reflecting on what it means to be a modern woman in the legal profession. My film with Hannah Alberstadt, Women in the Law, was more of a pensive, serious reflection of the present state of female progression within the legal field. Michael L'Homme’s film Thinking in Gender Terms of the Law Firm served as a more lighthearted expression of the subtle realities faced by women in the modern workplace.
Together, we think our films create a comprehensive statement about the current status of women in the legal profession. Ultimately, we hope our documentaries will start a dialogue and encourage viewers to share their own stories about what it means to be a woman in the law or any other profession.