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Arts & Culture

Oscar-Winning Directors Bring Latest Film To Dayton Drive-In Thursday

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"9to5: The Story of a Movement" official Facebook page

Many movie theaters remain closed because of the pandemic, but Daytonians are in for a rare cinematic experience Thursday evening. The film “9to5: The Story of a Movement” will have its local premiere at the Dixie Twin Drive-In. The film tells the story of women secretaries fighting for fair pay and better working conditions in the early 1970s. The local Academy Award-winning directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar will attend the screening. Tickets can be purchased through the FilmDayton website. WYSO’s Leila Goldstein spoke with Reichert about the film.

The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Leila Goldstein: Often your films have focused on workers and labor history. What made you want to focus on this particular period, on women secretaries in the 1970s and this workers’ rights movement?

Julia Reichert: I think, partly, it was really, really lost to history. It was an important movement that came of age with the women's movement, but was distinct from the women's movement in that it really organized working women. I thought that was very important to bring out. I guess, also the fact that it's my generation. The other films I've made that are about the history of social movements are earlier generations, where I was the young one sitting at the feet of the older generation and just listening to their stories. In this one, I was around for this.

I was never a clerical worker, really. I guess for a few months I was. But I had enough female jobs, waitress, receptionist, that I remember how, the pain of what that meant is still fresh in my mind even all these years later, the reality of the lack of respect there was for women as workers.

Goldstein: How does Ohio fit into this history and in your film?

Reichert: Ohio plays a big part in the actual history. The movement started in Boston as just a Boston movement, a Boston organization. But then it spread, and one of the very first places it spread to, the 9to5 movement, was Cleveland, and then to Cincinnati and to Seattle and Los Angeles and just different cities around the country. In the movie, you're going to see quite a bit at the University of Cincinnati. You'll see quite a bit about Cuyahoga Community College and other things up in Cleveland. The 9to5 folks were smart in that they didn't just want to see their movement as an East and West Coast, big city kind of movement. They wanted to get at more sort of grass roots.

Goldstein: What has it been like trying to navigate this virtual and drive-in launch during the pandemic?

Reichert: In our world of the independent film world, we were all sort of stopped in our tracks in early March when all of our launching pads, which for films, documentary, fiction, experimental, all of our launching pads were canceled. You work really hard on a film for years, but then you finally get to travel with it, to go to film festivals, to go to parties, to see all your other friends you haven't seen in years. All of that became like Zoom calls in our pajamas. No travel, no parties, no meeting friends, nothing.

But actually “9to5” has shown in probably five different drive-ins around the country. Everywhere from Brooklyn to Arkansas to California. But we have never been at any of them. So the really exciting thing for me is that we're going to be there. We're going to be able to actually be there with the audience. And we're hoping that people instead of, you can't hear laughter, our film is pretty funny, that people will honk their horns or something when they see something they think is really cool and they might have applauded in a real audience in a theater.

Editor's note: WYSO is a media sponsor of the event.