Sisters of '77

At the first federally funded National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, resolutions that revolutionized the women’s movement were written.

Sisters of 77 01
Series
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
March 1, 2005
Length
60 minutes
Salzman mondell cynthia filmmaker bio
Producer

Cynthia Salzman Mondell

Cynthia Salzman Mondell is an independent filmmaker committed to making films and videos that she feels have something to say about the world she lives in. Her first documentary on housing and the lack of it, Promise and Practice, aired on public television in 1977. She then teamed up with Allen Mondell to form Media Projects, a non-profit production and Show more distribution organization. With Allen Mondell, she has been making award-winning docudramas and documentary films and videos for 25 years. Their work includes Funny Women, a film celebrating women comedians; Make Me A Match, about Jewish singles looking for their soulmates; West of Hester Street, a docudrama about Jewish immigration through Galveston, Texas, in the early 1900s; Films From the Sixth Floor, six films about the life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy for the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas; and Dreams of Equality, produced for the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York. They have also produced many educational videos about drug abuse, handgun violence, sexuality, parenting, literacy, and environmental issues. Salzman Mondell is past president of the board of New Day Films, a nationally known independent film cooperative based in New York City. She regularly travels to colleges and universities to show and discuss her film The Ladies Room, a documentary about the raucous and ribald world inside women’s restrooms. She was recently honored with the Topaz Achievement Award by Women In Film of Dallas. Show less

Mondell allen filmmaker bio
Producer

Allen Mondell

Allen Mondell has worked in films and television as a writer, producer, and director for 30 years. He began his career as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore in the mid-1960s and then went to work for Westinghouse Broadcasting in Baltimore (WJZ-TV) as a writer/director of documentary films. He spent five years at KERA-TV in Dallas as a writer, producer and Show more director of documentaries and special programs. He taught in the Peace Corps in West Africa after graduating from Williams College with a B.A. in American history and literature. With Cynthia Salzman Mondell, he has been making award-winning docudramas and documentary films and videos for 25 years. Their work includes Funny Women, a film celebrating women comedians; Make Me A Match, about Jewish singles looking for their soulmates; West of Hester Street, a docudrama about Jewish immigration through Galveston, Texas, in the early 1900s; Films From the Sixth Floor, six films about the life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy for the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas; and Dreams of Equality, produced for the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York. They have also produced many educational videos about drug abuse, handgun violence, sexuality, parenting, literacy, and environmental issues. Show less

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The Film

Twenty thousand people from across the U.S. gathered in Houston, Texas on a historic weekend in November 1977 for the first federally funded National Women’s Conference, aiming to end discrimination against women and promote their equal rights. In the crowd were former first ladies Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson, current first lady Rosalyn Carter, and women of all ages, ethnicities, and political backgrounds. Combining footage of the conference and interviews with influential women’s leaders such as Barbara Jordan, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal, Ann Richards, and Coretta Scott King, Sisters of ’77 is a fascinating look at that pivotal weekend in 1977, an event that not only changed the lives of the women who attended, but the lives of Americans everywhere.

On the table at the 1977 conference were countless hot-button issues that ran the gamut of American women’s concerns: equal pay, day care, healthcare, minority rights, abortion, lesbian rights, and workplace discrimination. After four days of feverish arguments, all-night caucuses, and with the attention of both protesters and the world’s media upon them, the women hammered out a plan of action.

Women in America have come a long way, and Sisters of ’77 reveals how. Told through actual footage of the conference as well as modern-day interviews with many who attended, the film offers a window into not only U.S. history, but also the nation’s future, as movement leaders talk about the advances made by women in the intervening decades and why the Equal Rights Amendment never passed. As Betty Friedan notes in the film, “I have this fantasy that someone at some day of judgment asks me ‘What have you done with your life?’ So I say, ‘Three kids, nine great-grandchildren, nine grandchildren, six books, and a revolution.’”

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