Monday, March 14, 2022

SXSW: Still Working 9 to 5

Directed by Camille Hardman and Gary Lane, Still Working 9 to 5 (2022) chronicles the making of 9 to 5 (1980), its impact on our culture and its legacy while also examining the continued struggle women face in the workplace.

In the late 1970s, a movement was gaining steam. With every passing year women were becoming a bigger and bigger part of the workforce. However, they were paid less than their male counterparts, had to endure sexual harassment and were shut out of potentially lucrative positions. 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, became an integral part of the women's movement, advocating for equality in the workplace. And it was out of this rallying cry for change that the dark comedy 9 to 5 (1980) was born.

9 to 5 stars Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as a trio of office workers who seek revenge on their manipulative boss, played by Dabney Coleman. 

The film was the brainchild of Jane Fonda and producer Bruce Gilbert. Originally it was meant to be more of a drama. It was a decided that a comedy would be more palatable to audiences and would be a more effective way of delivering the movie's social message. Many of the dramatic elements remain and this comedy has plenty of dark and disturbing moments along with the humor. The story was written by Patricia Resick and Colin Higgins was hired as both director and co-screenwriter. 20th Century Fox picked up the project for production and distribution. The intention was to have five female leads but that was pared down to just the three. The roles of Judy, Violet and Doralee were written with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton in mind. Fonda was known for her activism, Tomlin had a hit Broadway show and Parton was a rising country music star. The three were at the top of their game and ready to launch this film into the stratosphere.

9 to 5 (1980) was an amazing success thanks to the film's message, the three dynamic leads, Coleman's excellent villain role and Dolly Parton's theme song 9 to 5 which she wrote and performed for the film.

Still Working 9 to 5 (2022) features interviews with star trio Fonda, Tomlin and Parton as well as Dabney Coleman, writer Patricia Resick and producer Bruce Gilbert. Having access to so many key players adds a wealth of insight that makes this documentary so valuable. Other interviewees include Rita Moreno, who starred in the TV spinoff, Allison Janney, who starred in the Broadway production, and activists, particularly those involved with the 9to5 organization. 

9 to 5 was both a product of its era but also timeless and the documentary expertly weaves behind-the-scenes information with context to demonstrate this. Along with the interviews are archival footage of the movement, TV clips from the film's media tour, clips from 9 to 5 and a new rendition of the theme song performed by Dolly Parton and Kelly Clarkson. Just like the original film, the documentary has a clear social message: while we've made strides towards equality, we still have a long way to go.

Still Working 9 to 5 (2022) had its world premiere at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival. Release dates and streaming details are yet to be determined.

Visit the official website to find out more about the film!

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