‘Miss Representation’ free film, panel discussion on sexism set in Port Townsend tonight

A poster for "Miss Representation

A poster for "Miss Representation

PORT TOWNSEND — The trailer for “Miss Representation,” the documentary coming to town at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday), is loaded with gasp-inducing images of women: women being degraded, disrespected and otherwise treated like objects in movies, advertising and news coverage.

And the film itself is tough stuff, too, says Janette Force, the Port Townsend Film Institute director who will host a discussion of it after tonight’s (Wednesday’s) free screening.

The film has montages “that would make anybody’s hair stand on end,” Force said.

Yet “Miss Representation,” which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, also highlights strong women “speaking from the heart,” she added.

Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Katie Couric, Rosario Dawson, Rachel Maddow and Margaret Cho are among those who appear in the documentary to be presented at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) in the JFK Hall at Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way.

In honor of the 2012 International Women’s Day theme of “connecting girls, inspiring futures,” the free public screening is an invitation, Force said, to take a critical look at how the media portray women in this day and age.

Force, who will lead a panel that includes Port Townsend City Councilwoman Michelle Sandoval, filmmaker Jessica Plumb and high school student Britta Janssen, looks forward to a galvanizing evening.

“We, as women, need to be mentoring girls and telling our stories,” Force added.

Sandoval, for her part, said “Miss Representation’s” spotlight on sexism is particularly timely now in the wake of comments last week by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for testifying in favor of mandatory coverage of birth control on employer health insurance plans.

“There’s no better instance . . . of mistreatment of a woman who dared to speak out,” Sandoval said.

“It’s all right there.”

Plumb, who has seen the “Miss Representation” trailer but not the entire film, finds the topic compelling on three levels:

She has a 5-year-old daughter moving into the media-saturated world; she’s a filmmaker herself, working on a documentary about the Elwha River restoration and the Lower Elwha ­Klallam tribe; and she is the daughter of Pamela Plumb, who dealt with a particular kind of media coverage when she was mayor of Portland, Maine, in the 1980s.

“Her strongest memory was that no matter what policy she was discussing, the reporting on it would almost always open with some commentary on what she was wearing,” the younger Plumb said.

Mother and daughter spoke recently about “Miss Representation,” and the elder Plumb, now in her 60s, said she had hoped “we would have worked through this by now.”

Force, like Plumb, believes in the power of film to spark a fresh conversation among people from all walks of life.

She hailed the mix of local businesses sponsoring the free screening: Rocky Friedman of the Rose Theatre supplied free advertising.

Meanwhile, Goddard College, the Jefferson County Community Fund for Women and Girls, Kristin Manwaring of KMi Insurance, Clarity Enterprises, Fountain Chiropractic and MacRae Theatre Equipment also furnished support.

Another showing of “Miss Representation” is planned in April in Port Angeles, Force added, though she didn’t yet have all of the details.

For more information about this Wednesday’s screening and discussion, visit the website www.MissRepresentation.org or phone Goddard College at 360-344-4100 or the Port Townsend Film Institute at 360-379-1333.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@


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