Berkeley Media LLC
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Berkeley, CA 94710
Available as: VHS and DVD
Catalog #: 0142
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Imagine 22 women in tights, shoulder pads, and helmets, poised on either side of the scrimmage line, ready to smash each other as hard as they can. Never mind that women aren't supposed to play tackle football. Forget that women's pro leagues rarely succeed. These are committed athletes and this is their one, slim chance to realize their dreams of professional sports careers.
This remarkable documentary follows the fortunes of two women during the Women's Professional Football League's inaugural season of six exhibition games. One of the women is a young political consultant-turned linebacker and the other is an elite amateur basketball player and single mother taking a shot at wide receiver. Both traveled from afar, trading security and leaving jobs and loved ones for this long-shot at stardom.
They won't be paid unless the league turns a profit. And in order to be successful, the players themselves must become involved in marketing their games and are forced to confront powerful stereotypes about women athletes and sexuality. But the league is relying on conventional images of women -- and a Hooter's model -– to build an audience. Can the athletes overcome their growing unease and can the league fulfill its promises?
As the women struggle through their first season, balancing self-sacrifice with moments of great satisfaction in an effort to make the league both a financial and personal success, the film explores whether women can be anything other than a novelty act in a sport like football, so identified with masculine strength, power, and athleticism. It also probes deeply into what the experience means to the women involved.
"True-Hearted Vixens" is fundamentally about cultural change, seen through the lens of sports. It illustrates with insight, compassion, and candor the challenges that women face when they venture into any male-dominated arena. It was produced by Mylene Moreno for the Independent Television Service with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. "True-Hearted Vixens" is a presentation of the Independent Television Service.
"A superb and compelling documentary that explores some of the deepest conflicts and the sexual politics of women's professional sports. It asks the audience to consider what is really for sale, women's athletic competition and skill or the 'sexy,' 'saucy' female wiles of athletes called 'vixens'? The film really works as a self-contained tragicomic story that raises all the hard, still-unanswered questions that don't get asked when we look at pro tennis and soccer, or even the WNBA -- because they are too dicey. The film also reveals the remarkable physicality, passion, and intelligence of women struggling together, and sometimes against each other, to realize their common dream of becoming a professional athlete. I recommend this challenging and entertaining film as an excellent resource for classes in women's studies, sports studies, sociology, recent U.S. history, and popular culture." -- Susan Cahn, Assoc. Prof. of History, State Univ. of New York at Buffalo, author of Coming On Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Women's Sport
"The focus on sports makes this film not only accessible to a wide audience, but will facilitate classroom discussion in a way that other topics will not, particularly among men. At the university level, the film will make an excellent complement to courses in women's studies, sociology, political science, American cultural studies, psychology and anthropology. It should be shown widely at the secondary level to prompt discussion about gender roles." -- Lisa Baldez, Assistant Prof. of Political Science, Washington Univ.
"An interesting and provocative resource for secondary school teachers. Skillfully and humanely, the film concentrates on the experiences of two remarkable women of uncommon ambitions. The thoughtful teacher will discover rich material in this documentary. I can see it as an important vehicle for teaching and learning about the great divide between women and men -- the obstacles and barriers that hold women back and the losses for the men who erect the barriers. Moreover, the question lingers in my mind: Why would thoughtful, intelligent women want to compete in such a questionable arena as professional football? The film honestly and forthrightly gives us a context for pursuing these and other important contemporary questions." -- Ted Whatley, Retired Trustee, Austin (Texas) Independent School District, and former Head Master, University Liggett School (Gross Pointe, Michigan)
- PBS National Screenings on POV
- Austin Film Society Documentary Tour honoree
- Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival honoree