Loading Doc: Manlife, Love and Lady Parts
May 25, 2017 by Liz Kaar
"Sometimes you need the funniest person in the room to hit home what's really important," says Chicago-based director Ruth Leitman, about her new feature documentary LADY PARTS JUSTICE IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER. The film follows Lady Parts Justice, the brainchild of Lizz Winstead (co-creator of "The Daily Show") and her troupe of comedians and feminist activists, as they use humor, media, and direct action to confront anti-choice fanatics and misogynistic politicians.
The filmmakers will embed themselves in the Lady Parts Justice 45-day Vagical Mystery Tour, that will take the group directly into hostile territory— through Georgia and the Midwest, ending in Louisville, Kentucky, where they will join a high stakes fight to save Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic.
“I have been following Lizz Winstead since she came on the comedy scene as a young woman,” Leitman says. “Her work with The Daily Show was innovative and new. The combination of using this brand of highly researched intellectual humor as a way to engage and activate the complacent democratic voter is something that is much needed in this country right now.”
This film is currently in development with Kartemquin Films. The filmmakers plan to finish the film on an aggressive schedule so it can be used to mobilize voters around the 2018 election. They are currently crowd-funding production funds in a Seed and Spark campaign, ending May 26th (Friday!). “The crowd-funding aspect to this project is critical in building audience,” Leitman says. “This is true for most indie film projects, but it’s especially important right now when large groups of people are mobilizing around issues more than ever in our lifetime. Documentary film is the tool to help amplify those voices of dissent.”
MANLIFE: THE LAST OF THE LAWSONIANS
Set to close the Chicago Underground Film Festival, MANLIFE: THE LAST OF THE LAWSONIANS is a feature documentary that examines a fringe utopian movement from the mid-twentieth century, and the crusade of 90-year-old Merle, its last remaining member, to keep it alive.
Alfred Lawson invented the first passenger airliner in the U.S., but his company went bankrupt during the Great Depression. Dismayed by the economic policies that led to his company’s demise, Lawson created a movement against what he called “the one percent.” Despite gaining many followers, most people moved on after the end of the Great Depression. Not Merle. 60 years after Lawson’s death, Merle continues working to find new followers to carry on the movement.
In the course of the film, Merle reconnects with his high school sweetheart, who he originally left due to her lukewarm reception of Lawsonomy. Although they picked up where they left off romantically, Merle’s passion for the movement continues to create tension in the relationship.
Milwaukee-based director Ryan Sarnowski believes the subject will resonate with audiences today, “It couldn't be more obvious that problems of the 1% and the 99% are no better than they were back in 1904 when Alfred Lawson first identified the greed of the 1% as the real enemy of the American people. In this regard, Lawson's teachings are timely.”
SHORTS 6: THE ONE WITH THE GOVERNOR
Short documentary programs can offer a glimpse into many different worlds in one sitting. This year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival program SHORTS 6: THE ONE WITH THE GOVERNOR features a number of homegrown films. In THE 39TH, director Laura Fallsgraff follows 26-year-old activist Will Guzzardi’s hotly contested campaign for the Illinois House of Representatives. His opponent is the daughter of one of the best-connected politicians in Chicago. In TO THE RIGHT, Agnes Starczewski chronicles Poland’s recent constitutional crisis through its coverage on Chicago’s local Polish TV station, and how the events in Poland resonate with those happening at home.
Liz Kaar is an independent filmmaker and editor based in Chicago. She has worked closely with Kartemquin Films for the last decade, most recently directing and editing the series STRANDED BY THE STATE. Her next project will be completing her film THREADS about women engaged in a fair trade business together, connecting the mountainside communities of Guatemala to downtown Chicago. More from Liz at lizkaar.com.