Historians and Filmmakers Documenting Resistance

Friday, April 3, 2020, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Type: Panel Discussion

Tags: Film; Labor and Working-Class; Women's History


This panel will explore collaborative efforts between historians and filmmakers whose work documents individual and collective resistance to inequalities in American society. It examines a range of cooperative models in which documentarians and historians share tasks or draw on mutual expertise, including research, scripting, contextualizing, and script and rough-cut review for films that bring to light less well-known subjects in the history social justice movements. It will also address the role of historians as advisers and on-screen commentators, the varied audiences for these films, and their educational goals.

Session Participants

Chair: Elaine Tyler May, University of Minnesota
Elaine Tyler May is the Regents Professor in the Departments of American Studies and History at the University of Minnesota. She is the author books including America and the Pill, Homeward Bound, and Barren in the Promised Land, which received Honorable Mention for the William J. Goode Book Award. The former president of the American Studies Association and the Organization of American Historians, May has contributed to Ms., the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications.

Panelist: Estelle Freedman, Stanford University
Estelle B. Freedman is the Edgar E. Robinson Professor in U.S. History at Stanford University, where she co-founded the Program in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Freedman earned her B.A. in history at Barnard College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in U.S. history at Columbia University. She is the recipient of multiple undergraduate and graduate teaching awards, including the Nancy Lyman Roelker (Graduate) Mentorship Award from the American Historical Association, and of research fellowships from the NEH, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. The author of two prize-winning monographs on the history of women's prison reform and of No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women (2002), Freedman is co-author, with John D'Emilio, of Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (3d ed., 2012). Freedman and D'Emilio's co-edited anthology, My Desire for History: Essays on Gay, Community, and Labor History by Allan Bérubé (2011), won the John Boswell Prize from the AHA Committee on LGBT History. They also produced the video of Bérubé’s illustrated lecture, “No Red-Baiting! No Race-Baiting! No Queen-Baiting!: The Marine Cooks and Stewards Union from the Depression to the Cold War” (2016). Freedman’s most recent book, Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation (2013), received the Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians, as well as prizes from the Popular Culture/American Culture Associations and the Western Association of Women Historians. (Contact: ebf@stanford.edu, 415 269-6430, 414 Day Street, S.F., CA 94131)

Panelist: Christie Herring, Campaign Productions & New Day Films
Christie Herring is an award-winning director, editor, and producer who has worked in documentary filmmaking for 20 years. She recently produced and edited bias, a film that explores how our unconscious assumptions influence our choices. She edited and produced Code: Debugging the Gender Gap, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and edited (with Jean Kawahara) The Impossible Flight for NOVA. She directed and produced the ITVS-funded film The Campaign, which aired on public television and screened at numerous film festivals and universities. Her other credits include work with PBS, National Geographic, A&E, MBC1, the History Channel, and numerous nonprofit and corporate clients including Facebook, SFMoMA, Levis, the Mississippi Center for Justice, and the UC Berkeley Law School. She received her MA in Documentary Filmmaking from Stanford University, was a 2013 San Francisco Film Society Film House Fellow, is on the Steering Committee of educational distributor New Day Films, and is a 2019 American Film Showcase Expert.

Panelist: Randall M. MacLowry, The Film Posse, Inc.
Randall MacLowry is an award-winning filmmaker who crafts documentaries and non-fiction media projects through The Film Posse, the Boston-based film company he co-founded with his wife and business partner Tracy Heather Strain. A director, writer, producer and editor with over 30 years of experience, MacLowry’s credits include films for the PBS series American Experience, most recently producing and directing The Swamp, The Battle of Chosin and The Mine Wars, NOVA, American Masters, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, and Race: The Power of an Illusion. With Strain, MacLowry produced and edited the critically acclaimed Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, the first feature documentary about the late playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry, which had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. MacLowry received a Writers Guild award for the 2013 NOVA episode “The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time” and the 2014 American Experience episode Silicon Valley, and his American Experience films The Gold Rush and The Mine Wars won the Organization for American Historians’ Erik Barnouw Award. MacLowry is a graduate of Wesleyan University, where he studied under film scholar Jeanine Basinger and has served as a visiting instructor.

Panelist: Tracy Heather Strain, The Film Posse, Inc.
Tracy Heather Strain is an award-winning filmmaker who crafts documentaries and non-fiction media projects through her Boston-based production company, The Film Posse, which she co-founded with her husband and business partner Randall MacLowry. Her credits include films for the PBS series American Experience, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, Race: The Power of an Illusion and I’ll Make Me a World: A Century of African-American Art. She is the director, producer and writer of Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, the first feature documentary about Lorraine Hansberry which had its world premiere 2017 at the Toronto International Film Festival, television premiere January 2018 on the Emmy-nominated season of the PBS series American Masters and won the American Historical Association’s 2018 John E. O’Connor Film Award.  She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Tracy serves as Professor of the Practice at Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design where she teaches media and screen studies and documentary production.