By Chris dos Santos
11th August 2020

The fight for women's rights is a never-ending battle. Even 2020, women earn 81 cents to every dollar a man does. There is a long way to go, but that's not to diminish the work of many organisations that have fought for women's rights over the years - starting in the 1970s with 9to5.

'9to5: The Story of a Movement', explores the group of female assistants and secretaries in Cleveland in the 1970s who form a group to stand up against the abuse they were receiving from their male bosses. This movement reaches women all across America, and even actress Jane Fonda who becomes inspired to make about movie about it. That movie in turn creates an anthem for the movement, and also allowed the message to reach even further to American women. As the group grew and grew it was time for them to became as official union - but with all the adversity that they had already overcome, could 9to5 change the workplace for women forever?

As a documentary, the editing and structure is extremely creative and feels fresh. For what could have been a very easily edited together talking head doco, there was a lot of love and care but into this film. There are a lot of segments that creatively lay out the steps on how to start your own organisations, making it a highly entertaining and engaging watch. The women from 9to5 are all extremely captivating, and you become instantly connected with each one.

For me, a 20-something male Australian who doesn't know much about the battle of the female workforce, the documentary served as a very informative piece. However, for older viewers, I can see it being a tad repetitious, but I think everyone can gain something for watching, if not just to remember the impact the movement had. The most heartbreaking fact from the documentary is that women still have to fight today, 50 years later, with sexual assault in the workplace still occurs all over the world. While new movements like Me Too and Time's Up have continued the fight, sadly, there is still so much fighting left to do.

The women from 9to5 are all extremely captivating, and you become instantly connected with each one.

A standout section for me was with Jane Fonda, who talks about the movie '9 to 5' - not only the box office success it had, but the impact it had on women across the nation. It speaks to the power of film: it can inspire, can provoke change, can give a voice to an oppressed group, and that's what '9 to 5' did for many women across the world - and by extension, the Dolly Parton song, which became an anthem to the movement. Now when we hear '9 to 5', we forget what the root of the song is about; it's not about a fun tune about the hustle and grind, it's about how women are used in the workplace by male bosses. Take another look at the lyrics: "It's all takin' and no givin', They just use your mind and they never give you credit." When put back into its original context, it's a very real look at being a woman in the workplace.

'9to5: The Story of a Movement' does what any good documentary should: recounts the past interestingly while inspiring change for future generations. The big message of the movie is that, while a lot of good change has happened over the years thanks to movements like 9to5, we all still have a long way to go for equality in the workplace

Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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