Directors: Kate Trumbull-LaValle and Joanna Sokolowski
The documentary Ovarian Psycos was shown at the 2016 Hot Docs film festival. The Ovarian Psycos are a group of young women who came together to establish a space to bond, share common experiences, and support each other through the many struggles they face. The group consists of women of color who identify as ciswomen, transgendered women, and transsexual women. In essence, it’s a feminist group that is active in their community shedding light on issues such as crimes against women, poverty, sexism, and general inequality. The Ovarian Psycos are also a bike brigade, they organize frequent rides on lunar nights as a hobby and as a means of ‘taking back the night’ so to speak. The group operates out of East Los Angeles which is predominantly a Hispanic neighborhood. The area is also credited as being the birth place of the Chicano civil rights movement.
In addition to showcasing the group itself, the documentary explores the lives of three of the founders and members of the group: Xela de la X, Andi, Evie. Xela is a single mother, poet, and MC who is struggling to balance the activities in her life with devoting as much time and attention she can to her daughter. Xela also shares her painful childhood experiences which in part contributed to her desire to start the group. Andi is a passionate young activist saddened by her family’s disinterest in her activities. She’s also being groomed as the group’s next leader. Evie is a teenage activist who lives with her mother and siblings, she is the family’s secondary bread winner and struggles to gain her mother’s understanding and acceptance of her activism. These three stories expose the sacrifices involved in activism and the strength of the women who are determined to play their part in creating a brighter safer future for the next generation of females.
There is also a section of the film where anti-feminist sentiments are expressed by ignorant individuals; as the group gained national attention many people misconstrued the mission and intention of the Ovarian Psycos. The history of Hispanic activism, colonialism, and oppression is also explored as well as the erasure of women’s contribution to civil rights from the annals of history. The intersection of race, sexuality, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background is another key theme in the documentary. These and many other complexities are what make this documentary so riveting and entertaining. Ovarian Psycos is a documentary about women’s activism and the reasons why feminism and activism are essential in communities, places of learning, and familial spaces. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.