By Brittany Rostron
Growing up as the 14th out of 15 children, New York City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley developed a sense of competition and achievement from an early age, driven by the mantra, “If they can do it, so can I.” This belief would manifest itself in many other aspects of Crowley’s life and career.
Whether it is working as a restorative painter with District Council 9 Painter’s Union or being the first woman – and first Democrat – to ever represent the Council’s District 30 in Queens, Crowley constantly found herself filling roles traditionally held by men.
Today, as a member of the New York City Council’s Women’s Caucus, Crowley now has the opportunity to help encourage others to do the same. Her mantra is perhaps now more accurately, “If they can do it, so can we.”
“I want to encourage other women to step out of what they may see as their gender’s role and explore new opportunities,” she explains. Moreover, Crowley cites this objective as a key motivation behind her support of NYWIFT’s Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories series.
For the past three years, the council member has worked with the Department of Cultural Affairs as part of the New York City Council’s Cultural Immigrant Initiative to help fund the acclaimed NYWIFT screening series, which showcases films directed and/or produced by women in venues throughout Queens. The projects have a unique focus on the NYC immigrant experience. This year, the council member was instrumental in helping the series double in size, from the original five events to 10.
The programs have focused on the experiences of African, Central European, Asian and undocumented immigrants, among others. This year there was also a special – and timely – program on the role of independent filmmakers in immigrant activism.
Participants in the 2017 production workshop for immigrant and first generation women film outside of Maspeth Town Hall, within Crowley’s Council District 30
The series includes an annual production workshop for immigrant and first generation women, taught by Third World Newsreel. “It’s so wonderful to see the culmination of the participants’ hard work, [especially] doing so at a community venue [such as Maspeth Town Hall] that has done so much for our local residents,” Crowley says.
This particular focus on the value to this community is especially personal to Crowley. She not only represents these neighborhoods in the New York City Council, but has seen her own children grow up there, in the same district where she and her 14 siblings were also born and raised.
NYWIFT thanks Council Member Crowley for her continued support of the Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories series.
For a look at one of the filmmakers featured in the 2017 series, read about the screening of Undocumented here on the NYWIFT blog.