Who Does She Think She Is?
by Alex Juhasz — Pitzer College
August 21, 2009 – 18:41
I was sent a screener of the feature documentary, “Who Does She Think She Is? (Pamela Tanner Boll, 2009) a straightforward and powerful doc that gives voice to five diverse female artists who share one often overlooked trait: they are all mothers. While I can’t say it was especially complex as a work of documentary filmmaking (following a standard lives-of-the-artist, PBS/Biography, format), nor was the analysis anything feminism hasn’t known for generations, the vision of artistic experiences fueled and stymied by maternity remains shockingly (and upsettingly) fresh, moving, and hard for me to dismiss.
It seems almost redundant to note how hard it is to be an artist and a mom, but this was also something I learned, 10 or so years ago, when I made Women of Vision, my doc and book about feminist media history. I was surprised to learn doing research for that project how few of the women I interviewed who had careers in media feminism were also Moms. It was moving to speak to older women who had made the choice to forego children, in the name of their careers, and then to hear about the legacy that produced (of regret, fame, power). I’ve since had two, and added another through blending.
And then of course, Cheryl and I are trying to shoot our micro-budget feature, The OWLS, this weekend, and really, whatever WILL we do with the kids? Thank goodness for our extended community of friends, boyfriends and the like. I’m whisking the kids off on Monday (to the Grand Canyon) to get them out of the shoot’s hair, but then, I won’t be producing from that point on either…