With the recent Supreme Court rulings and legislation surrounding reproductive rights and privacy in the United States, it feels a lot harder to be anyone other than a cis-gendered, straight White man. However, even though the struggle is at the forefront of our minds, history shows that just because we are dealt a bad hand or setback, it does not mean we have to accept it. That being said, here are five movies that exemplify the struggle for equal rights and remind us that the fight is never truly over.
1. “Persepolis” (2007)
This animated film, based on the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi under the same name, showcases the coming-of-age story of Satrapi growing up in Iran. Traveling from adolescence as she and her family navigate living in a war-torn country, through puberty and getting sent to a French school in Austria, and back to Iran as a young woman, “Persepolis” artfully catalogs Satrapi’s journey. Satrapi, voiced by Chiara Mastroianni, is bold, outspoken, rude, funny, deeply caring and an overall intricate knot of human emotions while living through taxing situations. She allows herself to be portrayed as flawed and complicated, stuck between places and times. This film captures the struggles of what it was to be an immigrant child and then coming home to find it is not what you left it as. The unique animation style is beautiful and tells the story skillfully.
“Persepolis” is available to rent or buy on Amazon, YouTube, or Apple TV.
2. “The Divine Order” (2017)
There is no shortage of films regarding suffragette movements around the world. Popular examples include “Suffragette” (2015) and “Iron Jawed Angels (2004). “The Divine Order” presents the movement taking place in a small Swiss town in this lighthearted but empowering film. In 1971, when women still did not have a right to vote in Switzerland, a select few farm town ladies rallied together to sway the mindset of the villagers in favor of the vote. At the start, the stereotypical housewife Nora (Marie Leuenberger) leads a bland life but dreams of more for herself. However, once she and some other revolutionaries in the community come together, they all go through a transformation, both literally for Nora with a new haircut, including bangs, but also mentally and morally in regards to what used to be their conservative politics. This movie gives a different perspective on the efforts of White women fighting for their right to vote with a lighter approach making it fun, hopeful and encouraging.
“The Divine Order” is free to stream on Tubi.
3. “Hidden Figures” (2016)
In the midst of the space race in the early 1960s, three Black women were leading players in getting us to the moon. “Hidden Figures” follows Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), three of many mathematicians who worked for NASA and helped accomplish this mission. However, these women had to navigate spaces and systems that were established to subjugate them. This story showcases the women’s triumphs through their successes and the outsmarting of the oppressor working against them. The satisfying and feel-good yet powerful nature of this film makes it worth the watch, along with the outstanding cast providing truly captivating performances, even earning Spencer an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. “Hidden Figures” captures the intersectionality of what women of color had to — and still have to — struggle and fight against.
“Hidden Figures” is streaming on Disney+.
4. “The Glorias” (2020)
Rotating between ages, times and actresses all portraying Gloria Steinem throughout her life, career and activism, “The Glorias” feels highly relevant. Using eccentric and interesting editing that is not for everyone, this film feels unique in its approach to its storytelling. The story moves from early childhood and family dynamics to living in India and her whole journalistic and activist career. There are meta moments of the different Glorias talking to one another and some more fantastical sequences in moments where she wishes she could have done something different, all mushed with real archival footage. The Gloria that takes the cake is Julianne Moore who almost seems destined to portray Steinem next to her co-stars Alicia Vikander, Lulu Wilson and Ryan Kiera Armstrong. Her battle began with everyday sexism in the workplace, moving her to create Ms. magazine and work as a trailblazer for the women’s liberation movement, up until the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, and ending at the 2016 election.
“The Glorias” is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
5. “Pay It No Mind: The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson” (2012)
This short documentary by Michael Kasino captures interviews and archival footage with queer icon and activist Marsha P. Johnson along with stories and messages from her friends and those who knew her best. Johnson was one of the most prominent figures in the Greenwich Village queer scene from the 1960s to the 80s as a critical entertainer and activist spearheading the way as a Black trans woman. The documentary is simple but truly captures the love those around her felt for Marsha. It feels real and self-made, much like Marsha’s friends say of her to be. This is an informative and caring depiction of a key part of queer history.
“Pay It No Mind” is free to watch on Michael Kasino’s Youtube channel.