LAS CRUCES, NM – Independent filmmaker and feminist cultural advocate, Ariel Dougherty, a Truth or Consequences resident, is celebrating a cultural milestone throughout 2022.

           At the Rio Grande Theatre on Wednesday, July 6 at 7 pm she will show films from the early days of Women Make Movies, Inc. the organization she co-founded in 1972. The one-event screening concludes a series of six she has held in different communities across New Mexico celebrating this 50th anniversary. Today, Women Make Movies is the globe’s largest distributor of women’s films. Film Las Cruces and KTAL are local sponsors of this event.

            Surviva (1980, 32m), Dougherty’s film, co-made with Carol Clement about livelihood challenges of a rural woman artist and her women’s support group, rich in animation will be shown along with the Women’s Happy Time Commune (1972, 47m), an improvised feminist Western, set in a fictional past but with a modern, and funny, self-scripted dialogue. Both films star non-actors as they interact within a loosely structured plot, dressed in garb of their own making, in the vein of the Andy Warhol films of that era.

           The screening will start with two shorts from more contemporary girl-centered community film teaching programs.. One of those is Girl Tech that operated in Albuquerque for five years through the New Mexico Literacy Project. The film,  Las Mujeres Dentro De Mi / The Woman Inside Me (2013  4:54m) by an anonymous director is an imaginative, senstive cinematic poem about a youth’s complex sexual urnings.

            Do You Know How We Feel? (2002, 21m) is a series of skit exchanges about street harassment made by two groups of girl filmmakers taught in Mumbai (Bombay), India by Paromita Vohra and in NYC by Maria Nicolo.  The cross cultural video reflects both countries traditions yet amusing views of the common, daily sexual exploitation suffered by girls and women. Dougherty will show an 11 minute selection from the piece. These contemporary community teaching projects are inheritor programs similar to the community based film teaching workshop that Women Make Movies ran in the 1970s. For a book Dougherty is writing she has discovered 27 such programs in the U.S.

             After the screening, Dougherty will read a discussion about why she and Paige launched Women Make Movies. Located in the multi-racial and economically mixed neighborhood of Chelsea in Manhattan they taught community women film skills. For the very first time, everyday women’s concerns were put on celluloid, dramatic shorts about rape, marriage, and abbreviated careers told personalized cinematic stories that had, and still have, universal appeal.

          Dougherty is celebrating this half century mark, showcasing these and other works in additional screenings throughout New Mexico.  In June, she did screenings in Santa Fe at the Center for Contemporary Art and in Taos at the Taos Center for the Arts. In May, she conducted a two part program at Silco Theater in Silver City and screened films in her hometown. The six part series started at the Guild Cinema at the end of March. Earlier that month she celebrated this milestone at the 60th Ann Arbor Film Festival where she presented a special program heralding this 50th anniversary. A new work of her’s, Arbitrary & Capricious (2021 11:45m) screened at Experiments in Cinema online screening series May 9-23.

             “Film Las Cruces is thrilled to be able to help bring this series to Las Cruces and we think it is important to be able to showcase women in film throughout history. We hope that the community comes out to not only enjoy these films but for the women in the audience to be inspired to make history of their own!” Associate Film Las Cruces Liaison, Andrew Jara, states.

            The New Mexico screenings are supported by New Mexico Humanities Council and the Devasthali Family Foundation Fund. New Mexico Film Foundation and Sierra County Arts Council, recipient of the grants, are statewide sponsors of the series of screenings.

WHAT: Ariel Dougherty Celebrates 50 Years of Women Make Movies, Inc.

WHEN:  Wednesday, July 6 at 7 pm

WHERE: Rio Grande Theatre