During our 8-week pilot of the ImMEDIAte Justice summer program, we strove to create an innovative curriculum that fused reproductive justice training, feminist community support, and documentary production. We drew upon movement and storytelling to help 15 young women leaders from East and South LA (ages 15-25) access their own wisdom about their bodies and reproductive injustices. We developed the courage to imagine the conditions of reproductive justice, including more libratory possibilities for sexual self-determination, open information, and widespread acceptance for diverse sexualities. In the process, we put one small, yet triumphant dent in a corrupt media institution that denies access and influence to queer women, women of color, and low-income women (to all women in fact!).
This summer, ImMEDIAte Justice participants worked in two groups led by film mentors, sharing knowledge and friendship while developing key video-making skills. They learned the fundamentals of interviewing, storytelling, operating cameras, sound, and editing with Final Cut pro through a series of formal workshops with guest artists/ activists and informal tutorials and hands-on experience with mentors and program directors. Participants learned how to wrap cables like the pros and mastered the ins-and-outs of pixellation animation. Many young women became efficient and “fierce” video editors, while others concentrated on developing their cinematography skills. One young woman fell in love with animation and painstakingly pixellated our title sequences with skittles.
Throughout the course of this program, young women realized their unique talents and interests, forged resilient feminist community, and uncovered the personal stories that yearned to be told. From this space of love and determined action, we developed two short films rooted in personal narrative: “My Body, My Message” and “Mariposa.” Both films premiered to a packed house at Fannie Brice Theater at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in late August. The films document young women’s struggles to find truthful sexual information and self-love in the face of recalcitrant obstacles of silence, misinformation, and prejudice.
Since the premiere, we have released the films online via "CalibodyPolitix" a new online, political action network for young women to share vital sexual health news and information, while organizing for reproductive justice (CaliBodyPolitix). We are working with our 501c3 fiscal sponsor, Reach LA to develop the CaliBodyPolitix site. The films were also released via Youtube alongside an awesome ImMEDIAte Justice promo animation. Additionally, we are in the process of launching the ImMEDIAte Justice website. The website will offer additional video content and a “how-to” section to help other young women develop ImMEDIAte Justice films and workshops. Lastly, we submitted our film “Mariposa” to the Plural+ International Film Festival (presented by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the International Organization for Migration), where the film has advanced to the next round of finalists. Our program will also be featured in Make/Shift magazine. Likely future projects include a film devoted entirely to queer sexual education and an interactive, outdoor screening event to broadcast the films in the Boyle Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles, where the majority of program participants live and attend school.
“I gained the confidence to just say my ideas because before I would just keep them to myself.”-Wendy, age 17
“I gained confidence. I was ashamed of my sexuality…this program has supported me a lot. Now I don’t feel as lonely and faded in the back as I was before.” –Esperanza 16
“Getting to know everyone through ImMEDIAte Justice gave me support, confidence, and optimism about making art and media that relates to my underrepresented experience as a multiracial queer girl.”-Carla 20
“I gained so much self-confidence and even more leadership skills. I know how important time management is and how to work better as a team.” –Emily, 17
TECHNICAL SKILLS/ MEDIA LITERACY
“I learned a lot of cinematography, I learned by trying it myself.”
“I feel so much more comfortable around a camera, directing editing software, and writing poetry.” –Emily age 17
“I learned not to be afraid of technology and getting in there and picking up a camera.” –Audrey
“I saw how corrupt the media is! Grrrrrr!” –Aurora, 15
FRIENDSHIP/ COMMUNITY SUPPORT:
“Working in a space with other young women was something I was afraid of/excited/nervous about, but after ImMEDIAte, I feel more excited to be myself and to ask other women to be collaborators. That is something I didn’t have before. I really feel part of a collective, a family, and hope this program continues for a long time.” –Carla
“I learned what I could contribute to a community of women (something that every woman deserves to feel). I learned that if we all worked together, a frightening amount of awesomeness could happen! It blows my mind!”- Jennifer
“I am so glad to have been a part of this group. Existing friendships have grown deeper and the new connections and relationships I have formed have already made waves in my life and the lives of my community. I learned so much about what my role can and should be in the pursuit of reproductive justice.” –Jennifer
“I had a great time! I always left Immediate Justice feeling creative and empowered.”-Allie
After participating in ImMEDIAte Justice, I am a better listener and a more humble participant in a dialog with women about women…I have moved forward as a filmmaker w/ channeled and mobilized anger and drive for justice through storytelling. ☺ -Madeline
CULTIVATING UNDERSTANDING & SOLIDARITY BETWEEN WOMEN FROM DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS:
“I gained a feeling of community with my peers in Los Angeles of all backgrounds”- Jennifer
“I learned a lot about other young women and where they’re coming from. It’s interesting to see what you have in common with your sisters and what you can learn from hearing their stories, struggles, dreams and views.”- Theresa
WHAT MENTORS ARE SAYING ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG WOMEN:
I loved watching the younger women become enthusiastic about their experiences and the films they were creating. When someone who is learning to film and edit and interview subjects for the first time it is a lot of fun to watch and see that they are literally being empowered with this knowledge of technology and the ability to tell their stories to the world. -Jennifer
I loved meeting these fabulous, inspirational girls and being let in—even a little bit-to their lives, their families, their hearts+ minds. Incredible!.-Madeline