Sheilas was interested in responding to why feminism appears to have gotten such a bad rap, underscoring that the movement now has a 30-year history. The documentary traces the lives of five New Zealand women-anti-war activist and painter Miriam Cameron, sexologist Aloma Parker, lesbian writer Sandi Hall, Maori activist Donna Awatere-Huata and journalist Marcia Russell. All women first appeared in the groundbreaking TVNZ series Women (1976) which, directed, produced and crewed by women, exuded the "feminism of the day": a blend of idealism and political passion, with streaks of authoritarianism, anti-male rhetoric, and separatism added in. Intercutting archive from Women with material from today, the documentary follows the women's lives and political analyses as they have matured, their idealism often tempered by the passage of time. Sheilas: 28 Years On functions as a personal history, tracing the changes in individual women's lives, but also as a social history, allowing an audience to reflect on the shifts in the gender landscape over the last three decades.
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