Six Must-See Documentaries for Women's History Month

Six Must-See Documentaries for Women’s History Month

This March, PBS Distribution commemorates Women’s History Month by featuring award-winning documentaries on the PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel.
 
Highlighted programs from American Experience include “The Codebreaker,” about the groundbreaking female cryptanalyst who took down infamous gangsters and a Nazi spy ring and “The Vote,” showcasing the unrelenting campaign toward women’s suffrage and the passing of the 19th Amendment. 
 
From American Masters comes “How It Feels to Be Free,” a moving program that showcases the lives and careers of six trailblazing African American female entertainers, and “Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page,” documenting the life and legacy of the woman whose childhood stories helped shape American ideas of the frontier and self-reliance. 
 
Plus two documentaries from FRONTLINE ─ “A Thousand Cuts,” which follows Maria Ressa, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Filipino journalist who has become a top target of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on the news media, and “For Sama,” FRONTLINE’s Academy Award-nominated documentary which offers a gripping first person account of one woman’s experience living within the Syrian conflict.
 
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THE CODEBREAKER

Based on the book The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s EnemiesThe Codebreaker reveals the fascinating story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, the groundbreaking cryptanalyst whose painstaking work to decode thousands of messages for the U.S. government would send infamous gangsters to prison in the 1930s and bring down a massive, near-invisible Nazi spy ring in WWII. Her remarkable contributions would come to light decades after her death, when secret government files were unsealed. But together with her husband, the legendary cryptologist William Friedman, Elizebeth helped develop the methods that led to the creation of the powerful new science of cryptology and laid the foundation for modern codebreaking today

THE VOTE

One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, The Vote tells the dramatic culmination story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote — a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in U.S. history.

In its final decade, from 1909 to 1920, movement leaders wrestled with contentious questions about the most effective methods for affecting social change. They debated the use of militant, even violent tactics, as well as hunger strikes and relentless public protests. The battle for the vote also upended previously accepted ideas about the proper role of women in American society and challenged the definitions of citizenship and democracy.

Exploring how and why millions of 20th-century Americans mobilized for — and against — women’s suffrage, The Vote brings to life the unsung leaders of the movement and the deep controversies over gender roles and race that divided Americans then — and continue to dominate political discourse today.

HOW IT FEELS TO BE FREE

The inspiring story of how six iconic African American female entertainers – Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson and Pam Grier – challenged an entertainment industry deeply complicit in perpetuating racist stereotypes, and transformed themselves and their audiences in the process.

Find How it Feels to Be Free Online

LAURA INGALLS WILDER: PRAIRIE TO PAGE

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Prairie to Page is a production of the award-winning National Productions group at Twin Cities Public Television and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET. Mary McDonagh Murphy is director and producer. Christopher Czajka is associate producer. Michael Kantor is executive producer of American Masters.

A THOUSAND CUTS

With press freedom under threat in the Philippines, A Thousand Cuts goes inside the escalating war between the government and the press. The documentary follows Maria Ressa, a renowned journalist who has become a top target of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on the news media.

FOR SAMA

FOR SAMA is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. 

Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice– whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much.

The film is the first feature documentary by Emmy award-winning filmmakers, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts.

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