THE ROAD OF WOMEN: VOICES OF IRISH WOMEN POLITICAL PRISONERS
2005, 60 minutes
Purchase: $265 Classroom Rental: $55
The voices of women prisoners take us on a journey to Northern Ireland, a journey into and out of prison, a journey of personal and political struggle and growth.
Since internment was instituted in 1971, over 15,000 Catholic and/or republican people have served more than 100,000 years in English and Irish prisons. Little attention has been paid to women's active involvement in the Republican struggle, or to their experiences serving time in the name of Ireland. The Road of Women brings into focus the presence of women as agents and not merely victims of the current conflicts and conditions in Ireland, by foregrounding their stories as political prisoners: why they became involved in the republican movement, how they have coped with abuse endured in prison, and how they have tirelessly campaigned for prison reform which has benefited all prisoners, social and political alike.
The Road of Women: Voices of Irish Women Political Prisoners is the story of a people's ongoing struggle for self-determination - as told by the women who been actively involved in the Northern Irish conflict but whose voices have long gone unheard. Their stories testify to the strength of the human spirit and offer insights to anyone interested in the global issues of civil liberties and prison reform. Of particular interest to contemporary audiences are the eerie parallels between British policies in Northern Ireland and those initiated by the current US administration since 9/11.
Subjects & Collections
Reviews“Highly Recommended! The Road of Women shows the political context of imprisonment in Northern Ireland, and the treatment, and struggle for self-determination, of women prisoners. .. This film is best for collections strong in criminal justice and political science, as well as for those in women’s studies." - Educational Media Reviews Online
"The Road of Women is a clear and harrowing account of the role played by women political prisoners in the Irish struggle for freedom. Some of the history outlined in this film will be familiar to progressive American audiences, some, less so. What is quite new is the portrait of the women themselves. In plain, quiet voices they describe the conditions they faced, how they felt and how they resisted. What emerges is a sharp sense of how their courage served the purpose of human progress: progress for all women prisoners in obtaining dignity and better treatment at the hands of our jailers, and progress for the Irish republican cause. I am grateful to Melissa Thompson for making this film, and by doing so, making a record of the accomplishments of these women. By documenting their suffering and how they were able to turn it into a weapon against their enemies, Thompson also helped me make sense of my own history as a US political prisoner, and where that history fits into a wider human and political experience." - Laura Whitehorn, former US political prisoner and prison activist
"The Road of Women is a very important piece both in terms of its content, and in the way Thompson approached the subject matter.” - Michele Devlin, Director, Belfast Film Festival
“Thompson’s documentary combines her passion as an activist on behalf of women and her artistry as a filmmaker. She has produced a film on Irish women political prisoners that is brilliant, breathtakingly artistic, moving, and faithful to the women whose lives she reports...... The cumulative impression one gets by the end is that both the filmmaker and the former prisoners whose lives she illuminated have made our world better by their work." - Gayle Graham Yates, Author and Former Chair of Women’s Studies, University of Minnesota
“In any national liberation struggle the role of women is largely ignored. Their involvement, their participation, is lost to history. Yet their support is vital to success. This is why Melissa Thompson’s documentary, The Road of Women, is a valuable social history of contemporary Irish women involved in the long struggle by Irish Nationalists to end British control of Northern Ireland and achieve a united Irish Republic. Thompson’s documentary joins an all too short list of films about the role of women engaged in political struggles.” - Margie Bernard, author of Daughter of Derry: The Story of Brigid Sheils Makowski