Documenting female jazz musicians and instrumentalists of the 20th century, The Girls in the Band proves that these women were not just talented but perspicacious in their desire to suceed in a man's world.
Combining archival footage and interviews with musicians including drummer Viola Smith, saxophonists Roz Cron, bassist Carline Ray and trumpeter Clora Bryant, Chaikin explores how even in the face of extreme prejudice, sexism and racism these women helped shape the history of American music and bravely challenged the racial barriers that prevented white and black musicians from working together. The film also reveals how female jazz musicians of today, including Maria Schneider, Anat Cohen, Sherrie Maricle and Esperanza Spalding, are continuing to build upon the talent and courage of their predecessors.
Written and directed by Judy Chaikin and executive produced by Michael Greene, who are also the film’s producers, The Girls in the Band is being hailed as a “real crowd-pleaser” by Variety and “extraordinary” by The Hollywood Reporter. The film won the Audience Choice Awards at the Palm Springs Film Festival, the Victoria Film Festival and the Omaha Film Festival as well as the Best Music Documentary Award at DocUtah Film Festival. The film has also screened at many other festivals including the Atlanta Film Festival, the Dubai International Film Festival, the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Washington D.C. International Film Festival. Screen Daily International declared The Girls in the Band to be “a fascinating, moving and wonderfully tuneful documentary.”
Breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes, the women featured in this documentary show that, contrary to "common" belief, there is no "handicap of being a woman jazz musician." The film footage is extraordinary, as are the interviews.
The Girls in the Band will be shown May 10-16 at the Beale Theater at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at the Lincoln Center.