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Beyond the Suffragist Dream

In this timely 1-hour documentary on the 100th anniversary of a woman's right to vote, intimate conversations among women who came of age in the sixties, and their older and younger female relatives, intertwine with suffragist voices to tell the story of the radical transformation in women's lives since the mid-20th century — and the hard-won rights, dignity and autonomy at risk today.


On the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote, four generations of women delve into the transformation of their lives empowered by the dramatic expansion in women's rights and independence since the mid-20th century.

In this intimate documentary, stories of women who came of age during the sixties interweave with those of their mothers, daughters, grand-nieces and the voices of the suffragists. In conversation, they speak of triumphs and challenges over the past 50 years as

  • the older generation grappled with changing, unfamiliar roles
  • women of the sixties worked to create full, adventurous lives beyond women's traditional roles and expectations
  • the younger generations took hard-won rights as a given

Through these stories, suffragist voices cry out for us to hold fast to their vision of women's full and equal participation in all areas of society — political, economic, social and cultural — and face the forces that endanger a century of progress.


The film centers on the stories of 1960s women, graduates of Barnard's class of 1971. With restrictions lifted on women's lives in the mid-20th century, these women gained agency, dignity, opportunity and independence. Their diverse stories illustrate the vast range of experience and the transformative effect of women's rights:

Janet Price, Carol Santaniello Spencer, Fay Chew Matsuda, Katherine Jessop Brewster, Dr. Sandra Horowitz, MD, Rabbi Cheryl Weiner, and Karla Spurlock–Evans in conversation with their mothers, mentors, nieces, daughters and students.


"Beyond the Suffragist Dream" celebrates the radical transformation in women's lives during the past 50 years, the redefining of womanhood; educates viewers about the dramatic expansion in women's opportunities and lifestyles resulting from laws and Supreme Court decisions passed from 1954 to 1974; shines a spotlight on the persistence of misogyny and inequities despite gains; and highlights the fragility of women's empowerment and place in society. Over the past 100 years, as women have made strides toward an equal place in society, they have encountered constant resistance. The same issues the suffragists faced re-emerge generations later.

This film will persuade an audience of all ages that women's rights are critical to a free and vibrant society, and that we must remain engaged to protect this freedom. Audiences will leave feeling empowered and self-confident, energized and inspired to step into the ongoing effort to advance the dignity and autonomy of women.

The Creators

A 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to gathering and telling the stories of the lives of women who came of age in the late 1960s to early 1970s, an era of profound social, political and cultural change in American society, through the process of collecting their oral histories and telling their stories in documentary films. The organization has created The Barnard Class of 1971 Oral History Collection, a rich collection of the life histories of 79 B'71 alums housed in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections, currently in active use by scholars at Barnard College and Columbia University. BC Voices, Inc. commissioned two short documentaries, using the B’71 oral histories, that tell the story of the seismic shift in the lives of Women of the 60s as the came of age during the tumultuous turmoil of late 1960s/early 1970s – "The Way It Was"– and their challenges and triumphs over the past 50 years forging new paths for themselves and future generations of women when doors opened for women, but not all the way –"Making Choices, Forging Paths."

Katherine Brewster, Executive Producer
Cheryl Weiner, Producer
Joy Montgomery Rocklin, Producer

WavePart Media is a full-service media production company, specializing in documentary and commercial content. We travel the world to illuminate the human, spontaneous, and vital. We are a team of seasoned filmmakers with decades of combined global experience across sectors. We have produced documentaries for, PBS, and National Geographic.

Ali Sargent, Director
A graduate of Barnard College, Ali is a Los Angeles-based director who specializes in crafting heart-felt, nuanced documentaries. Over the last 12 years, she has directed, produced and written more than 30 hours of award-winning documentary programing. She covered the drug trade from the perspectives of both DEA agents and Colombian cartel affiliates in "Cocaine Wars," spent a year on the road with the Big Apple Circus for "Circus," and followed cancer patients through a year of treatment for "Ken Burns’ Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies." Ali’s work has aired on National Geographic, PBS, ABC, CBS, and HBO. Three of her programs have been nominated for Emmys, one awarded a Peabody, and one the DuPont Award.

Deborah Dickson, Supervising Producer
Independent filmmaker Deborah Dickson is a three-time Academy Award nominee who has made a number of award-winning films, including "Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House"; "Lalee's Kin: Legacy of Cotton" (with Susan Froemke and Albert Maysles); "Frances Steloff: Memoirs of a Bookseller"; "The Education of Gore Vidal"; "Witnesses to a Secret War"; "The Lost Bird Project"; "Suzanne Farrell: Elusive Muse" (with Anne Belle). In addition to directing and producing, Dickson teaches a master’s program in documentary directing at The School of Visual Arts. She’s a graduate of Barnard College.

Key Information

Anticipated completion date: Summer 2020
Budget: $330,000
Fund Raising Goal by 6/30/19: $45,000


Click here to make a donation to "Beyond the Suffragist Dream."

What People are Saying

"I love your proposal for a multi-generational take on the history of suffrage and women's rights more broadly ... I am glad to see that you intend to frame the film more broadly (as the suffragists did in their campaign) to include demands for equal rights across a broad range of personal, social, economic, and political aspirations ... a worthy contribution to the long history of women's rights in America." - Rosalind Rosenberg, Professor Emerita of History, Barnard College

"I told my mom about the project last night and she was very jazzed. She felt it was a very important story and saw herself in it. She said she's been pissed at Bernie (she lives in VT) because he doesn't champion the ERA! She said she and her peers feel marginalized by the current political discussion, after so many decades of working for women's rights." - Ali Sargent, B'05, documentary film director/writer/producer

"The Intergenerational conversations recounting the radical transformation in women's lives over the past 50 years set Beyond the Suffragist Dream apart from other films." - Rosanne Zoccoli, former produce at A & E

"Beyond the Suffragist Dream has value and substance, is very important, and, the time is now! The League of Women Voters in all states would or should arrange to see it. I will make sure it's seen in NYC." - Carol Van Deusen, program committee NYC League of Women Voters

Who's Interested In Screenings

  • Barnard College
  • Columbia University-wide Women's Group
  • NYC League of Women Voters
  • NYC Ethical Culture Society