Women/womyn: How many organizations/clubs can you count that were safe, creative environments for you to hang out with other young women when you were in school (pre-college drinking)? I bet you can count them on one hand, if any at all. That’s why Reel Grrls exists.
The founder, Malory Graham, started Reel Grrls thirteen years ago because she was fed up with the way women were treated in the media. We were, and still are, under-represented, underrated, hyper-sexualized, and there are FAR too few of us creating films to make our voices heard. We can’t all be Penny Marshall or Sophia Coppola. So here in Seattle, young women are damn lucky there is such a thing now as Reel Grrls to help them practice their filmmaking craft in a positive community.
I attended a screening of a documentary called, Fight Like a Girl, about women’s boxing. Director Jill Morley was in attendance and was available to speak about her film, her experiences, and to answer questions from the audience. The film was pretty rad! It went through an honest journey of what motivates women to get into boxing, what keeps them doing it, and how they can compete even when there’s not nearly the cash flow for it that the men get. The director unwittingly ended up being the centerpiece of the film, which worked to her benefit as far as storytelling goes. Admittedly, Girl Fight was still pretty fresh in my mind, so that helped me get a frame of reference. *Pause for a moment while we all think about Michelle Rodriguez.*
Anyway. while the main event was awesome by itself, there was a short film shown prior to the screening. “Who We Are,” made a few years ago, got five teenage girls of Mexican descent in front of the camera to tell us about the lives they lead as migrant workers in Mt. Vernon. They face not only tedious toil, but incredible stereotypes from their peers as well. Most people just assume they can’t speak English or were born in Mexico. The ladies from the film were also in the audience, and they willingly provided us with updates on their lives. One girl is working on becoming a U.S. citizen, two others have children while staying in school, and two more are applying to colleges. All of the people in the room gave the girls raucous applause in support and solidarity. Not gonna lie, the whole spectacle caught me right in the feels.
Shout out to Arcaro Boxing for the pre-show boxing demonstration. I do highly recommend that if filmmaking isn’t your thing, try getting out your aggression with boxing. You don’t have to compete to have fun and release some energy. According to Jill Morley, “training is very healing, ” and “predators are less likely to approach you because you’re carrying yourself in a different way.” Sage advice, which she passes on to the young women she currently trains. Special thanks also to the new Executive Director of Reel Grrls, Nancy Chang. Prior to this she did Skate Like a Girl, a club for female skateboarders.
What’s cool to me is that the generation younger than the Millennials are coming out at younger ages, and as such have developed a self-assuredness that comes from facing adversity. Even if they don’t know who Michael Jackson was or what VCRs are. We’re seeing a positive change here, folks, and it’s an amazing thing that Reel Grrls is part of it. Please, consider donating to make girls’ voices heard.