Hillary Clinton Speaks At “MAKERS: Once and For All” Premiere At DOC NYC
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Hillary Clinton pushes past religious barriers in the fight for women's rights

"MAKERS: Once and For All" made its national premiere at the School of Visual Arts Theatre on West 26th Street on Thursday night. The film debuted as part of DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival.

Directed by Michael Epstein and Dyllan McGee and written by Michael Epstein, "MAKERS" was presented by AOL’s MAKERS, a women’s leadership platform.

Chronicling the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference, the world’s most prominent gathering for women’s rights to date, the film focuses on how the conference worked to break down barriers and eliminate prejudices inflicted upon women across the religious, social and economic spectrum. Attendees showed up as early as an hour and a half before the film’s start time to secure a good view of the expected guest - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

At 7:15 p.m., Clinton, looking fabulous in a white pantsuit, power walked to her seat and was greeted with a standing ovation. DOC NYC Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen welcomed Clinton to the stage as a special guest speaker along with CEO of AOL Tim Armstrong.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am, not only to be here, but that this extraordinary film has been made, which you will see in just a minute,” Clinton told the crowd, as the crowd came down from their wild applause.

“I want to thank Tim and the entire team at AOL/Verizon for really understanding the historic significance of what happened 20 years ago in Beijing and Huairou,” she said.

With grace and effortlessness, Clinton briefly went on to discuss her experience at the groundbreaking 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference.

“When I went to Beijing, as part of the U.S. delegation, it was, to say the least, somewhat controversial,” Clinton told the audience.

This is echoed even further in the film - it shows many news clips from 1995 of people doubting and debating whether the former secretary of state would actually make an appearance at the conference. The fact that the conference was being held in China was recognized as hypocritical and controversial because the country has an awful human rights record, as seen by their frequent forced abortions and the one child policy.

Several subjects in the film laugh as they tell the story of 20 years ago, when Chinese residents were told to carry bed sheets or blankets during the conference. Many people in Beijing were warned that the women attending this conference were lesbians who would streak naked through the city, and may need a covering thrown on them.

Clinton went on to tell the crowd why she decided to attend the conference back in 1995, despite the controversy. “I felt very passionately that the United States needed to be represented, and I personally wanted to push the envelope on women’s rights as far as I could.”

Clinton knew how to get the New York crowd on her side. She kept things short and sweet, and she did not mention her campaign during the speech ­— she was truly at the event to support the film. She joked about how the rainy weather in New York that night reminded her of the downpour during the conference 20 years ago in Huairou, the town on the outskirts of Beijing where most of the conference actually took place.

After her speech, the film began.

"MAKERS: Once and For All" tells the story of the climactic September 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference and the tense months leading up to it, using original interviews as well as stunning archival footage.

One compelling clip shows thousands of women trying to get into a building to see Clinton speak being held back by Chinese guards; another shows Catholic women praying; another shows women of all different ethnicities and religious backgrounds dancing together joyfully; another shows the intricacies of the tiny, cramped rooms that women attending the conference had to stay in.

Over 47,000 women’s rights activists from nearly every culture, country and religious belief came together to achieve human rights at the conference.

Clinton is one of many extraordinary women to provide new commentary for the film. The list also includes Madeleine Albright, Jane Fonda, and a variety of leaders and activists from around the globe who attended the conference. These new interviews, conducted specifically for "MAKERS: Once and For All," give new insight into this historic event.

The conference, assembled by the United Nations, culminated in The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a document that intended to accomplish equal rights for women. Delegates from every nation were present at the long meeting to determine the content of the documentary, and the film shows incredible archival footage from that meeting. One particularly powerful moment shown on screen is when a male, Middle Eastern leader declares to the room full of United Nations representatives that he is not comfortable with women gaining equal rights to men, because he claims it goes against his religion.

The title "MAKERS: Once and For All" is taken from the landmark speech Clinton made during the 1995 conference. She famously boasted, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights, once and for all.”

In her commentary in the film, Clinton declares, “We can bring about change by breaking the silence.”

This is exactly what the 47,000 plus women did at the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference - they came together to break the silence and make a change. Clinton iterates that humanity still has the power to bring about change today.

"MAKERS: Once and For All" is presented by MAKERS, a women’s leadership platform launched by AOL. MAKERS.com features over 3,000 videos, with new content launching every Monday. The film is available November 20 on www.MAKERS.com.

DOC NYC is America’s largest documentary film festival, and ran from November 12-19 this year in Manhattan. www.DOCNYC.net.

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NYC Film festival

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Makers: once and for all



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