TARO PR/ MOVIE
TIFF 2019 Selection: I AM WOMAN
Quiver Distribution is excited to announce the new trailer for TIFF 2019 selection I AM WOMAN.
The film is based on the life and career of singer Helen Reddy and her song 'I am Woman,' which became a rallying cry for feminists in the 1970's and the Women's Movement. The film will be available Friday, September 11th on digital and on demand. It is directed by Unjoo Moon and stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Danielle Macdonald and Evan Peters.
RELEASE: Available On Demand and Digital across Canada on Friday Sept. 11th, 2020. DIRECTED BY: Unjoo Moon STARRING: Tilda Cobham-Hervey Evan Peters Danielle Macdonald
1966. Helen Reddy arrives in New York with her three-year-old daughter, a suitcase and $230 in her pocket. Helen had been told she had won a recording contract, but the record company promptly dashes her hopes by telling her it has enough female stars and suggests she has fun in New York before returning home to Australia. Helen, without a visa, decides to stay in New York anyway and pursue a singing career, struggling to make ends meet and provide for her daughter. There she befriends legendary rock journalist Lillian Roxon, who becomes her closest confident, and inspires her to write and sing the iconic song “I Am Woman” which becomes the anthem for the second wave feminist movement and galvanises a generation of women to fight for change. She also meets Jeff Wald, a young aspiring talent manager who becomes her agent and husband. Jeff helps her get to the top, but he also suffers from a drug addiction, which gradually turns their relationship toxic. Caught in the treadmill of fame and dependent on Jeff to manage her professional life, Helen finds the strength to take control of her own career and keep pursuing her dreams.
Six years ago during an awards season event in Los Angeles I arrived at my table and noticed a woman sitting quietly on the other side. She looked familiar, but I wasn’t entirely sure why. The moment I realized who she was, I immediately swapped seats so that I could sit next to her because out of everyone in that star-studded Hollywood ballroom, Helen Reddy was the one person I wanted to meet.
I was not old enough to have ever attended a Helen Reddy concert, or to have known too many of
the details of her career, but even as a young child I have vivid memories of the way my mother and her friends used to talk about Helen. The 1970’s were a time of change – for everything – fashion, music, food, politics, relationships and most importantly, the roles of women were being questioned and challenged. Women were having careers, becoming financially independent, and getting divorced.
Even then I knew that somehow Helen Reddy seemed to be an important part of this change. When
her songs came on the radio, my mother and her friends would immediately turn up the volume, wind down the windows in their station wagons and let their hair loose in the breeze. And then there were the rallies where women marched for equal rights, equal pay and linked arms to sing and declare “I am woman, hear me roar…”. It wasn’t until later in life that I began to fully understand the impact of the women’s movement and how it fundamentally changed so many things for women all over the world.
And here I was, many years later in Hollywood, sitting next to Helen Reddy, an absolute icon of this
time. Even before we had finished our main course, I knew that Helen had an extraordinary story. She was a single mother who, against all adversity, was determined to make her dream come true. She would fight to go to America, to become an international star - and reached her goal far beyond anyone’s expectations, even her own. She not only became the most successful female recording artist of her time, but she also broke stereotypes and led the way during the most crucial period of the women’s liberation movement. She not only paved the way for Australian artists who wanted to make an impact internationally but she became a role model for what all women could achieve.
As I learnt more about Helen and spent more time with her, she often spoke of her friendship with journalist Lillian Roxon, another groundbreaking Australian woman known as the “mother of rock”. Lillian was the one who encouraged Helen to write and find the words that reflected her life because the truth would always resonate. Lillian also taught Helen about feminism, and the rise and fall of their friendship is in some ways a metaphor for the struggles that besieged the women’s movement.
Their friendship was crucial to the writing of “I am Woman”, the song that would become an
enduring anthem for all women.
But in order to succeed, Helen still had to battle the sexism of the time, the music industry and even
her own marriage to her manager, Jeff Wald. As I researched this period of Helen’s life I became absolutely fascinated with her relationship with Jeff and the stories of his legendary cocaine addiction. When I eventually met Jeff (who Helen would only refer to as Number 2 at that time), I began to understand the incredible and complex journey these two had taken together. Theirs was an extraordinary love story set against a period of upheaval and change. The eventual collapse of this relationship touched me deeply and became the cornerstone of her story.
Throughout the development and production of this film I have always kept in mind the complex feeling and emotion that Helen’s music has given her audience. People, especially women, have strongly identified with her number one hits “I am Woman”, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”,“Delta Dawn” and “Angie Baby”. These lyrics meant something to them and they identified with Helen. In making this film I realized our audience needed to experience the same kind of emotional connection and by placing these songs at key moments in her life, I wanted her music to be an integral part of telling her story.
When I started this journey I could never have predicted that a new wave of women’s marches
would once again rise up around the world and I certainly could not have foreseen the #MeToo campaign that would bring the conversation of sexism powerfully back into focus. What started as a beautiful, touching biopic about the queen of “housewife rock” and the music that captured the spirit of an era, has now become even more poignant and deeply relevant to a whole new generation of people.
- Unjoo Moon