Falls takes viewers on a life-changing journey with
nine high school girls (and a lone ten-year-old boy) bound for the birthplace of women's
rights in America. Part teenage road trip, part stunning history
lesson, the film is, above all, an awakening of young hearts
This one-hour documentary breathes life and
relevance into a revolutionary act barely mentioned in history
books: America's first women's rights convention, a public
protest meeting held in Seneca Falls, New York on July 19th and 20th, 1848. The
film follows WOWER Power, a struggling multi-cultural teen
theater troupe, as they travel from San Francisco to Seneca
Falls to perform their original play at the 150th Anniversary
Celebration of this groundbreaking moment in American history.
The troupe is guided on their journey by director Joan Mankin,
a beloved Bay Area actor, who began the project with the girls
when she was an artist in residence at San Francisco Community
School (a public school in San Francisco) when they were fifth graders.
The troupe joins tens of thousands making the pilgrimage
to Seneca Falls from around the world. Exploring sites in
Women's Rights National Historical Park, they unearth the
still-unfolding story of how women freed themselves, meeting groundbreaking
historians and prominent elected officials including former U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. They examine the lives
of the ordinary citizens whose courage and determination launched
a nationwide movement to free women from the bonds of social,
political and legal bondage.
teenagers' odyssey culminates when they perform their original
play on a national stage. In it, an African American girl time-travels back to
1848, gains knowledge and self-esteem, and traveling back to the futures, goes on to become
the first woman president of the United States. Becoming media stars in their own right, the young women of WOWER Power take
their own place in history, passing on the torch of knowledge
and activism to audiences young and old. The troupe's compelling
journey, crossing generations, race, class and a continent,
is the heart of our documentary.
Until the movement sparked by four friends in Seneca Falls, women in America, regardless of race, were
considered property of their husbands or fathers. They could
not keep their wages, vote, hold public office, divorce an
abusive husband, own or inherit property, sit on a jury, enter
into a profession, attend college, or have custody of their
children. They were denied all basic rights of citizenship. In some states, it was even
legal to whip your wife.
these truths are shocking enough, even more shocking is the
fact that most of us know nothing about this.
Ken Burns put it this way: "Women's history is starkly
absent from the American narrative." Indeed, the movement
begun at Seneca Falls barely rates a one-paragraph mention
in history textbooks. Because of this, the struggle to free
women is being erased from our collective consciousness, our
Falls sets out to remedy this.
a tale of courageous action in the darkest days for American
women and blacks. It's also a tale of some modern-day teenage
girls and their dedicated director reclaiming this history
and bringing it to life. And it’s a quest to make “Seneca
Falls” a household term, so that people everywhere will
know what happened there. Women and girls in particular need
to possess the knowledge that ordinary citizens like themselves
have shaped the country’s destiny and can shape its future.