Women’s Empowerment Summer Film Fest

ITVS Community Cinema, WHYY, and Leeway, in partnership with the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, and the Women’s Medical Fund, present five films exploring the struggles and contributions of women to their communities, schools and governments.

Join us for a day long festival of films and the opportunity to learn about local organizations serving women and girls. Light refreshment will be served between films.

Free and Open to the Public

Saturday August 7th, 2010
@ The Leeway Foundation
The Philadelphia Building
1315 Walnut Street, Suite 832
Philadelphia, PA 19107

The building is wheelchair accessible and wheelchair seating will be available. Closed captioning and audio description available on request.

To RSVP, visit or call 215-351-0511.  Please be sure to indicate if you would like to utilize the closed captioning, audio description, and/or large format print services.


12:00 PM__ Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (60min)
1:30 PM Made in LA (90min)
3:30 PM The Education of Shelby Knox (90min)
5:30 PM Bronx Princess (38min)
6:30 PM Off and Running (76 min)


taking root

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai (60min)

Three decades ago, Wangari Maathai suggested to rural women in her native Kenya that they plant trees for firewood and to stop soil erosion — an act that grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, defend human rights, and fight government injustice. The tree-planting groups that formed gave the women a reason to come together and become involved in resolving their communities’ challenges.

Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai tells the story of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement and follows Maathai, the movement’s founder and the first environmentalist and African woman to win the Nobel Prize. Maathai discovered her life’s work by reconnecting with the rural women with whom she had grown up. They told her they were walking long distances for firewood, and that clean water was scarce. The soil was disappearing from their fields, and their children were suffering from malnutrition. “Well, why not plant trees?” she suggested.

Maathai soon discovered that tree planting had a ripple effect of empowering change. In the mid-1980s, Kenya was ruled by the repressive regime of Daniel arap Moi, whose dictatorship outlawed group gatherings and the right of association. In tending their nurseries, women had a legitimate reason to gather outside their homes and discuss the roots of their problems. They soon found themselves working against deforestation, poverty, ignorance, embedded economic interests, and government corruption; they became a national political force that helped to bring down the country’s 24-year dictatorship.

View the trailer, press kit and photos at:

made in l.a.

Made in LA (90min)

Made in L.A. is an Emmy Award-winning feature documentary that follows three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from trendy clothing retailer Forever 21. In intimate observational style, Made in L.A. reveals the impact of the struggle on each woman’s life as they are gradually transformed by the experience. Made in L.A. is a story about immigration, the power of unity, and the courage it takes to find your voice.

Lupe Hernandez, a five-foot tall dynamo who learned survival skills at an early age, has been working in Los Angeles garment factories for more than 15 years since she left Mexico City at age 17. Maura Colorado left her three children in the care of relatives in El Salvador while she sought work in L.A. to support them. María Pineda came to Southern California from Mexico in hopes of a better life at 18, with an equally young husband. They all suffer wretched conditions, low pay, and long hours.

These three women, along with other immigrant workers, come together at L.A.’s Garment Worker Center to take a stand for their rights. Against all odds, these seemingly defenseless workers launch a very public challenge (a lawsuit and a boycott) to one of the city’s flagship clothiers, calling attention to the dark side of low-wage labor north of the U.S.-Mexico border and revealing the social fault lines of the new globalization.

View the trailer, press kit and photos at:

education of shelby knox

The Education of Shelby Knox (90min)

Texas teenager Shelby Knox joins a youth group on a campaign for better sex education in Lubbock high schools. As Shelby is swept into the fight, she begins to question her deeply conservative Southern Baptist upbringing. When the campaign broadens to include a fight for a gay-straight alliance, Shelby must finally confront her family and a local youth pastor in this coming of age story.

These are the featured films for Summer Women’s Empowerment Series in the ITVS COMMUNITY CINEMA Women’s Empowerment Initiative. Presented in partnership with local public television stations and leading community organizations, Community Cinema holds monthly preview screenings in select markets across the country, showcasing selections from the new season of Independent Lens and making a real contribution on a range of current social issues by connecting communities with organizations, information and the opportunity to get involved.

View the trailer, press kit and photos at:

bronx princess

Bronx Princess (38min)

Rocky Otoo is the Bronx-bred teenage daughter of Ghanaian parents, and she’s no pushover. She is a sassy high-achiever bound for college. With freedom in sight, Rocky rebels against her mother’s rules. When their relationship reaches a breaking point, Rocky flees to her father, a chief in Ghana. What follows is captured in Bronx Princess, a tumultuous coming-of-age story set in a homeland both familiar and strange. Her precocious — and very American — ideas of a successful, independent life conflict with her father’s traditional African values. Reconciling her dual legacies becomes an unexpected chapter in this unforgettable young woman’s education.

View the trailer, press kit and photos at:

off and running

Off and Running (76 min)

With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean — Brooklyn teenager Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when her curiosity about her African American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the parents she’s always known.

She begins staying away from home, starts skipping school, and risks losing her shot at the college track career she had always dreamed of. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring. Off and Running follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths to which people must go to become themselves.

View the trailer, press kit and photos at:

For more information about Community Cinema and events in Philadelphia, visit