BCC’s Communication Arts and Sciences Department Chair Makes Powerful Post-Election Short Film

January 18, 2017 | Bronx Community College

JANUARY 18, 2016 — Americans responded to the historic results of the 2016 presidential election in as many ways as there are Americans. Dr. Debra Gonsher, Chair of BCC’s Communication Arts and Sciences Department, responded with what she does best.

A movie.

The four-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker has, in collaboration with her film editor husband, created We Will Rise Up Together, a film short  that is now posted on YouTube — along with Dr. Gonsher’s description of what inspired the work:

“For all of us who, since November 8th, wake each morning and fight back tears, we took our broken hearts and made some art, to paraphrase both Carrie Fisher and Meryl Streep,” writes Dr. Gonsher, “to remind us that we can never lose sight of the battles that women fought before us, and to prepare us to charge into the fray again. If we stay strong and work as one, we can rise up together.”

The work presents a stream of imagery — historic and contemporary stills and film clips — visually syncopated to the words (by Gonsher) and music of the song that gives the work its name. “The song was composed for my previous documentary on girl’s education — it’s the only song that I’ve written the lyrics to.” That documentary, Beauty of Their Dreams, is one of four films made by Gonsher through her company Diva Communications that has won an Emmy.

Dr. Gonsher started working on the video in late November, poring over transcripts of speeches by living and late icons like Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, Presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, Texas governor Ann Richards, First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton and pictures of both turn-of-the-20th century suffragists and contemporary marchers for women’s rights.

Among Dr. Gonsher’s favorite visuals: “I love the shot of the female soldier returning home. I like the shot at the very beginning of two girls playing chess. I didn’t incorporate images from outside the United States because although this is a global issue, I was making this film as a response to what was happening in the country.” The work was finished and posted on January 12. Within a week — and days before the January 21 Women’s March — it had already received 27,000 views.
“Bravo — I just knew you would inspire, move and give us hope,” one viewer wrote to Dr. Gonsher. “I love this. I cried and now I am ready to fight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“That is why I make myself crazy over this stuff,” Dr. Gonsher says with a smile. “To get that kind of response was the whole point.”

We Will Rise Up Together can be seen here: https://youtu.be/BDOffcYURAY