“LEFT ON PEARL”- FEATURE FILM (Opening Film)
by Susan Rivo
In 1971 classified ads for employment were still segregated by gender, battered women's shelters did not exist, abortion was illegal, and married women couldn’t open a bank account without their husbands’ permission. LEFT ON PEARL is about the movement that changed all that. This fast-paced 55 minute documentary focuses on a highly significant but little-known event in the history of the women's liberation movement, the 1971 takeover and occupation of a Harvard University-owned building by hundreds of Boston area women. The ten-day occupation of 888 Memorial Drive by women demanding a Women’s Center and low income housing for the community in which the building stood, embodied within it many of the hopes and glories - as well as the conflicts and fault lines – of what came to be known as Second Wave feminism. One of the few takeovers by women for women, this radical action proved life-changing for the participants, and led directly to the founding of the longest continuously operating Women's Center in the U.S.
Through extensive TV news coverage from the time, newspaper headlines, found footage, and interviews with participants and eyewitnesses of varied sexual orientations, racial, class and ethnic backgrounds (including both supporters and opponents of the takeover), LEFT ON PEARL documents a watershed moment in the early days of the Women’s Liberation Movement, situating it within the broader political ferment of the time – the anti-war, civil rights, Black Power and gay liberation movements. The film highlights the hilarity and excitement, as well as the challenges and fault-lines within this social movement.