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a collective portrait of feminist conversation now and forty years ago

What might be revealed in the process of inviting strangers to act out and respond to 1970s feminism forty years later? Between 2015 and 2017, hundreds of strangers in communities all over the US were invited to read aloud and respond to letters from the 70s sent to the editor of Ms. Magazine–the first mainstream feminist magazine in the US. The intimate, provocative, and sometimes heartbreaking conversations that emerge from these spontaneous performances make us think critically about the past, present, and future of feminism. YOURS IN SISTERHOOD is a collective portrait of feminism now and forty years ago that is newly urgent in the aftermath of the 2016 election–a project about time travel, embodied listening, empathy, public discourse, and the lost art of letter writing.

friends Jen and Char do a reading together in Madison, Wisconsin

Director's Statement

An angry woman in Atlanta talks about the harassment she experiences in public space. An aspiring police woman complains that the police station in her small Iowa town refuses to hire qualified women. A sixteen-yearold girl haltingly comes out as a lesbian for the first time. These are just a few of the thousands of fascinating letters to the editor–far too many to publish–that arrived at the Ms. magazine office in the 70s. These letters were written by women, men, and children of all ages, from all over the country, and from across the spectrum of sexual orientation, religious, racial, and ethnic background, physical ability, and political viewpoint. Spanning deeply personal accounts of individual problems, revelations, and political struggles, these 70s letters are a powerful invocation of the second-wave feminist slogan “the personal is political.”

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Irene Lusztig

Project Creator

IRENE LUSZTIG is a filmmaker, visual artist, archival researcher, and amateur seamstress. Her film and video work mines old images and technologies for new meanings in order to reframe, recuperate, and reanimate forgotten and neglected histories. Often beginning with rigorous research in archives, her work brings historical materials into conversation with the present day, inviting viewers to explore historical spaces as a way to contemplate larger questions of politics, ideology, and the production of personal, collective, and national memories. Much of her current work is centered on public feminism, language, and histories of women and women’s bodies, including her debut feature Reconstruction (2001) the feature length archival film essay The Motherhood Archives (2013) and the ongoing web-based Worry Box Project (2011). Born in England to Romanian parents, Irene grew up in Boston and has lived in France, Italy, Romania, China, and Russia. Her work has been screened around the world, including at the Berlinale, MoMA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archive, Flaherty NYC, IDFA Amsterdam, RIDM Montréal, Ambulante, and on television in the US, Europe, and Taiwan. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council, LEF Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and Sustainable Arts Foundation and has been awarded fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Harvard’s Film Study Center. She is the 2016-17 recipient of a Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship in Portugal. She teaches filmmaking at UC Santa Cruz where she is Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media; she lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Press

quotes about Yours in Sisterhood

“A simple premise, the film becomes transcendent in its actualization…This dialogue of generations is genuinely thrilling, particularly in an age where nuance is seemingly of a bygone era. A near masterpiece, this film.”

– Criterion Cast

“Simple and staggering. The history of public feminism is restaged so as to create a new kind of contemporary public feminism. One that is intentional, intersectional, face-to-face, and handmade.” 

– Los Angeles Review of Books

Forty years later, Lusztig has finally located the feminist communities and counterparts Ms. readers sought and fostered in their letters to editors and staff. Four decades after the launch of a magazine that finally gave voice to the women’s movement, the stories and struggles of Ms. readers are now building bridges between feminist history and the feminist future.”

Ms. Magazine

Yours in Sisterhood delves into the archive…bringing neglected letters into the circulation they sought, and changing their unpublished pasts into public futures where their voices are heard. It uses the letter as a form of time travel, and even teleportation. This is science fiction at its highest order: moving non-linearly through time and space, beaming us from past to future and back again, transforming bodies into other bodies through quantum connections.”

– So Mayer, Author of Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema

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