Film director Robynne Murphy came to one of our meetings in 2019 (read about this below), with news about her film “Women of Steel”, at that time still in the making.
Since then the film has been completed and last year it was a documentary finalist in the Sydney Film Festival. “Women of Steel” also won the History Council of NSW’s 2020 Applied History Award; and was a finalist in the 2020 ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Best Documentary awards, in the two categories of History, and Social & Political Issues.
Recently a number of Vintage Reds found they had all had the same excellent idea and booked tickets to see the film at Smith’s in Alinga Street. It’s a wonderful story, beautifully told, and the audience went away uplifted and impressed by what can be achieved by people coming together with a common purpose. It was particularly moving that most of the women were migrants and took on a reluctant and powerful company (BHP) in a second language.
At our July Vintage Reds meeting, Robynne Murphy spoke briefly about a new film in the making, WOMEN OF STEEL. A 10-minute excerpt of the film received a tremendous response at this year’s May Day toast in Wollongong. Now the filmmakers are seeking support for the completion of WOMEN OF STEEL, the inside story of the Jobs for Women Campaign (1980-94) which relentlessly took on BHP — from direct action at the Port Kembla steelworks to the High Court of Australia. Some may recall that the campaign resulted in a landmark victory for anti-discrimination. It drew together activist/working class/migrant women, supportive unions and their members, women’s organisations and other allies, and lawyers navigating NSW Labor’s new legal reforms. It took 14 years but the women refused to give up and the campaign remains an inspiring story today. The patrons of this documentary include former MP Jennie George, Ann Curthoys (Historian, Professor Emerita ANU) and the ACTU’s Sally McManus.
The director, Robynne Murphy returned to filmmaking after leading the campaign and 30 years as a steelworker. She has already raised over $100,000 from trade unions and individuals to get WOMEN OF STEEL to a “rough cut” stage. Recently she has been joined by Martha Ansara, veteran filmmaker (Life Member, Australian Directors Guild — Hall of Fame, Australia Cinematographers Society), to raise a final $60,000 for the finishing costs, including music and payment for the essential archival footage. The composer Jan Preston (for the ABC series, Bastard Boys – about the 1998 MUA waterfront dispute), has also come on board. Phil Crawford from Beyond Empathy is the editor.
The team is now reaching out to everyone who might be interested in helping: donations are coming in from “unemployed seafarer”— $20 — all the way to retired politician — $10,000. (From each according to their ability, as they say…)
Tax-deductible donations for the film’s completion are invited via the Documentary Australia Foundation: https://documentaryaustralia.com.au/project/jobs-for-women-film-project. No amount is too small — or too big, of course!
The WOMEN OF STEEL promo can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/344035067.
For further information you can visit the website: www.jobsforwomenfilm.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or click on the flyer (then click again!)
Photo credit: www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au