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Meet Oscar-winning Documentary Filmmaker Cynthia Wade


By Amy Cotler

On Friday and Saturday, November 24 and 25, at 4pm in La Biblioteca’s Teatro Santa Ana, REEL DOCS will present two acclaimed documentary films by Cynthia Wade. Freehold, winner of the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary, chronicles a dying policewoman’s bitter fight to provide a pension for her domestic partner. Mondays at Racine, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary, is about the customers of two Long Island sisters who open up their hair salon one Sunday a month to offer free beauty services to women undergoing chemotherapy.

Filmmaker Cynthia Wade is known for intimate and gripping storytelling. She is a veteran director, producer, and editor who has won festival awards all over the world, include two at Sundance, three at Palm Springs, and prizes in Aspen and the Hamptons film festivals, as well as film awards in Spain, Italy, Argentina, and Belgium. Wade directs films for clients such as HBO, Cinemax, Sundance Channel, IFC Channel, and PBS. She is a MacArthur grant recipient.

In Freehold, after spending a lifetime fighting for justice for others, dying Lieutenant Lauren Lester wants justice for herself and her life partner, Stacie. All she asks is to leave Stacie her pension benefits, so Stacie can afford to keep their house. But Lauren is told no; they are not husband and wife. Knuckle biting, dramatic, Freeheld follows Laurel’s final battle for her rights.

In Mondays at Racine two brassy sisters, Cynthia and Rachel, are intent on making customers at their beauty salon, Racine, feel beautiful inside and out. On their free Mondays, the sisters give women who are losing their hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes through cancer treatments a sense of normalcy and dignity in a traumatic and uncertain time. The story of what hair means in our culture quickly unfolds into an unexpected look at womanhood, marriage, and survival.

Both films have made enormous impact on the important issues they address. Freehold helped boost rights for domestic partners and thus equality under the law for gay couples. Mondays at Racine has served as a prototype for a national “Mondays” program in hospitals treating women with cancer.

There will be a Q&A and margarita reception with filmmaker Cynthia Wade following each screening. Wade looks forward to a lively discussion, providing the audience with a window into the documentary process, as well as exploring the ethical issues facing documentarians covering delicate emotional topics.


Documentary Film

Freehold and Mondays at Racine

Q&A with Oscar-winning filmmaker Cynthia Wade

Fri and Sat, Nov 24 and 25, 4pm

Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca

Reloj 50A

100 pesos (includes margarita reception)




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