AFI Movie Club: SISTERS OF ’77
AFI DOCS showcased SISTERS OF ’77, an Academy Award®-nominated documentary about the first-ever National Women’s Conference, as part of the Cinema’s Legacy section at AFI DOCS 2020. The landmark film combines footage of the conference with interviews with prominent activists, including Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Coretta Scott King.
Watch Marisa Tomei announce the film:
Movie Trivia about SISTERS OF ’77
–DID YOU KNOW filmmakers Cynthia Salzman Mondell and Allen Mondell made SISTERS OF ‘77 to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the National Women’s Conference? The Dallas Women’s Museum: An Institute for the Future asked if they would produce a film as part of an exhibit to honor the anniversary.
–DID YOU KNOW that director Cynthia Salzman Mondell, her daughter, her sister and her nephew all attended the inaugural National Women’s Conference?
–DID YOU KNOW that Cynthia Salzman Mondell participated in the 1977 conference as a relay runner helping to carry a torch from Seneca Falls, NY, the site of the first women’s rights convention in the United States, to Houston for the 1977 National Women’s Conference?
–DID YOU KNOW that issues on the table at the conference included equal pay, day care, healthcare, minority rights, abortion, lesbian rights and workplace discrimination?
–DID YOU KNOW that former first ladies Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson were all in attendance at the conference?
–DID YOU KNOW the filmmakers interviewed many of the women activists featured at the conference including Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Ann Richards? Conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly declined to be interviewed for the documentary.
–DID YOU KNOW that, across town from the National Women’s Conference, Phyllis Schlafly led a counter-rally of 15,000 “pro-family” supporters, who proudly proclaimed that they had paid their own way to Houston rather than relying on Congressional funding? The rally took place just five miles from the National Women’s Conference, and included pronouncements against abortion, lesbian rights and the Equal Rights Amendment.
The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions
-What prompted the first ever National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas held November 18-21, 1977?
-How was it historic in terms of who funded the conference and what issues activists were addressing?
-What resolutions were women’s rights activists advocating for and why did they find them important? Have we made progress in the past 43 years since the conference occurred?
-What did you think of the various speeches throughout the film? What makes for an effective speaker and coalition builder?
-When and why did Alice Paul write the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)? Why do you think the ERA attracted bipartisan support? Who was opposed to the ERA, and why?
-According to former National Organization for Women (NOW) president Eleanor Smeal, how would the passage of the ERA have helped women?
-Why hasn’t the ERA been passed in the United States? What states have ratified the ERA since the convention occurred and what is preventing the ERA from being signed into law?
-Have you seen Dahvi Waller’s new series MRS. AMERICA? How does it portray women’s rights activists, the National Women’s Conference and the struggle to get the ERA passed?
-How are women still underrepresented today in most sectors? How can we improve women’s representation across the board?
-How would you rate SISTERS OF ’77?
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