FEMINIST FRIDAY: Nike’s New Documentary Showing How Soccer Empowers Girls Around The World

Welcome to another Feminist Friday column! That part of our week where we get to depart from our regular programming and fangirl over our fave video content of the week. In this edition we’re checking out some new female-driven documentary and narrative films, some by independent filmmakers, and one by a major sports brand. The common thread? Each film takes is through the journey and identities of women and girls taking up space in the world and unapologetically owning their story.

First up, hot off the heels of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup which saw the USWNT take home the trophy for the second year in a row and 4th time overall, Nike have released a timely documentary called ‘Spit Fire, Dream Higher’. The film was made in collaboration with with supermodel Adwoa Aboah’s digital platform Gurls Talk, and was directed by Felix Cooper.

“This is a film about football. Meet Londiwe, Rose, Odette, Zerina, Precious, Kristina and Ikranur who, through the love of their sport are breaking barriers and building relationships within their communities. They open up their worlds, their teams and their families showing the power of sport across the globe,” says the description of the film on Youtube.

“On this journey, we saw girls from around the world who have fought through oppression and continue to be resilient through their love for football. The documentary truly celebrates them and the grassroots communities they are a part of, ” the model said in a release.

The second video in this week’s column is a short film called ’15 Down’ by filmmaker/writer/producer Allison Moy Hayhurst. ’15 Down’ is an intimate, engaging story about family. During an eventful summer in Alabama, the intergenerational bonds between a young Chinese-American granddaughter, her grandmother, and mother, are challenged and strengthened during a transformative summer. Molly is a typical 15-year-old American teenager, bonding with her friends and exploring her freedom. Molly also has the new responsibility of assisting her mother, Pamela and father, Lee with the care of her unconventional and quirky grandmother, Mildred.

Through crossword puzzles, and soccer games,15 Down reinforces their connection through shared experiences and underlines what it means to be a mother and a daughter throughout all stages of life. The film, which had its premiere at this year’s Windy City Film Festival, plays off the filmmaker’s own experience as a minority in the deep south.

“Growing up as a Chinese-American in the South, it was difficult to see myself reflected in the world. My aunt would use markers to color collectibles to look like my sisters and me–dark hair, dark eyes. She did this to almost every gift she gave us. After moving to New York, I can directly see how my aunt was helping us to see our Chinese heritage by seeing ourselves in the everyday. That is why I became a filmmaker. Diversity and representation in media are essential to ensuring a world that values and respects each other. In a world that is constantly looking for ways to separate ourselves, I strive to create work that draws attention to our shared experiences,” said Allison in a press statement.

The final video this week is a teaser for a narrative short film called ‘Dom’, from director & writer Meryl Jones Williams, and lead actress Jane Stiles who also co-directed and co-write the film.

After Dom teases Beth to join her on her daily drug route, she tags along aimless and happy to spend the day biking through old NYC haunts with a long-lost sister. Drawn back to each other, they avoid going home, even if it means rupturing an unspoken truth that lies between them.

The filmmaking team initially raised funds through a successful Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaign, and were also proud of the fact that they focused on diversity both in front of and behind the camera (take note, Hollywood studios!).

“Dom was written, directed, and produced by women. Our crew was 50% people of color and of the white people, over half women. 8 of 10 actors are people of color and one of our lead actresses is a woman of color. We tell a real woman’s story to break the repressed mold of our idea of women in cinema,” says the inclusion statement on the campaign page.

‘Dom’ is also screening at the Brooklyn Women’s Festival and the Indie Street Film Festival in New Jersey. Here’s to more female-driven stories, films and filmmakers getting their projects out into the world and challenging the status quo.

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