Thursday, July 30, 2015

Behind the Screen: Two short films on women in the law.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the student filmmakers from the CSWE 2015 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Learn how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award--a $500 prize--will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience.

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.
We produced Women in the Law as students in a course at Suffolk University Law School in Boston taught by Kate Nace Day, a seasoned filmmaker and the founder of Film and Law Productions. Her short documentary A Civil Remedy (featured in the CSWE 2014 Film Festival) focuses on domestic sex trafficking and the need to place new legal tools in the hands of survivors.

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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Official Selection, CSWE 2015 Film Festival.

Take a sneak peek at the six films selected for the CSWE 2015 Film Festival that will be held at the Annual Program Meeting in Denver in October. The annual film festival is part of CSWE’s ongoing efforts to showcase multimedia tools for social work educators that can enhance teaching and learning of social work concepts. The film topics featured in this year’s festival range from mental illness stigma and postpartum depression to domestic violence, mothers in recovery from substance use, and older adults navigating the world of speed dating.