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Sundance Dealbook: Oprah Winfrey Buys Feminist Media Critique Miss Representation

by Anne Thompson
February 10, 2011 6:13 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood

One of the big stories out of Sundance was Oprah Winfrey's determination to acquire docs for the Oprah Winfrey Network Documentary Film Club, to do for docs what she has done for books. At Sundance, OWN acquired Chaz Bono's Becoming Chaz, which offers the right combo of celeb biopic and gender-bending exotica. Also feeding the female demo is actress-documentarian Jennifer Siebel Newsom's earnest feminist media critique Miss Representation, which lays out the argument about how the way women are portrayed in the media--as objects of beauty-- impacts real girls and women. Siebel interviewed a wide range of women leaders including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem.

UPDATE: Miss Representation has been acquired by ro*co films for North American distribution in the academic sector. Says Annie Roney, founder/managing director of ro*co, “This is more than a film: it’s a movement. We are inspired and deeply committed to creating a university presence that will compete with any traditional box office success. Reaching our country’s college youth is a distribution platform of great significance and long-term impact. We look forward to working with the outreach team that Jennifer is putting together to promote this film widely in the educational market for many years.” Siebel adds, "The film was made to be a change agent for our culture....its aim being to inspire women to find their voice and own their power, and for men to see women as their equals."

The doc is OWN's 11th buy so far for the Documentary Film Club, which seeks to engage and grow audiences much the way that Oprah’s Book Club did. Rosie O’Donnell is helping to select the program. Already slated to be shown are Extraordinary Moms, Serving Life, Seven Suicides, Tent City, USA, 65 Red Roses, Crime After Crime, Family Affair, Life 2.0, Louder than a Bomb,Most Valuable Players,No Woman, No Cry, One Lucky Elephant and Sons of Perdition.

"Having partners like OWN and ro*co will enable ‘Miss Representation’ to have the greatest impact on audiences,” said Newsom. “The film was made to be a change agent for our culture, to inspire women to find their own voice and power, and for men to see women as their equals.”

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