What’s better than Thin Mints and Tagalongs? Justice and equality. For the girls in the Radical Monarchs the question is not how many badges you can get, but how can you be a better friend and community member? From Emmy-nominated filmmaker Linda Goldstein-Knowlton (WHALE RIDER), WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS follows the founders of the Radical Monarchs, moms and activists Anyavette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest. Praised as a social-justice focused alternative Girl Scouts, the Radical Monarchs are an Oakland-based group for young girls of color to find community and learn about personal, social, and community issues.
Knowlton thoughtfully captures the challenges the group faces in expanding their chapters in a divided and hostile political climate, buoyed by the Monarch’s unshakable optimism and tenacity. For those dismayed by the daily onslaught of news, WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS reminds us of the power of taking a radical stance towards equality, justice, and friendship in our communities.
Gabrielle Zilkha’s QUEERING THE SCRIPT gathers a dynamite roster of fans, creators, and actors for a loving, incisive, deep-dive discussion of the sometimes inspiring yet often troubled history of queer female representation on television.
Galvanized by the upsetting trend of stereotyping, neglecting, or outright killing-off of TV’s beloved queer characters, Zilkha’s subjects beautifully articulate their frustrations and their ideas for better, more accurate, more inclusive visibility. The film features interviews with Ilene Chaiken (THE L WORD), Angelica Ross (POSE), Stephanie Beatriz (BROOKLYN NINE-NINE), and more. Queerness on television has moved from subtext, in series such as XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, to all-out multi season relationships between women, as seen on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, LOST GIRL, and CARMILLA, but the documentary illuminates the need for improvement. In 2016, a record number of queer women died on fictional shows, which broke the hearts of queer fans and launched a successful fight for better, more diverse LGTBQ representation.
Thirty-four-year-old Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan, who also penned the script) is a college dropout turned server, who is far more comfortable relaying every detail of her recent abortion than she is talking about her feelings. Uncomfortable around kids, unable to filter her thoughts, and preoccupied with her own problems, she doesn’t exactly scream “nanny material.” Enter the rowdy yet irresistible Frances (captivating newcomer Ramona Edith-Williams), a six year old from an upscale Chicago neighborhood that Bridget is tasked with babysitting for the summer. When Bridget eventually wins her over, they form a strong bond. But becoming a part of someone’s family is messy, and tensions rise as she becomes entangled in the lives of Frances and her two moms.
Winner of the Audience Award in the Narrative Feature Competition at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Saint Frances is both a heartening story of an unlikely friendship and an illuminating look into girlhood, womanhood, and motherhood. As reproductive health continues to be under attack, it’s a refreshing and important reminder of the human faces and stories behind the issue.