At the Smart Woman Summit in Chicago, up-and-coming female producer Sarah Moshman debuted clips of her groundbreaking Nevertheless, a documentary due out in October with the goal of ending sexual harassment. And the crowd went wild.
Moshman, already an Emmy-winning documentarian at the age of 31, produced The Empowerment Project, a 2014 documentary that was the result of five female filmmakers driving across country in a minivan to capture the stories of 17 women in traditionally male careers—private pilot, three-star general, bodybuilder, you get the idea.
It asked the question, “What would you do if you were not afraid to fail?” The goal was to help women feel inspired, validated and less alone. The reaction from attendees at Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront was proof that she was on the right track.
Kiki Fox, president of Association for Women in Events (AWE) and senior manager of national sales at Core-Apps, reacted in a tweet, “Getting to listen to Sarah Moshman, producer of the Empowerment Project, and see clips of the incredible women in her documentaries is MEGA inspiring. I want to make these women proud of, and inspired by, what I am doing, too.”
Moshman also produced Losing Sight of Shore, a 2017 film that shared the journey of four women who named themselves The Coxless Crew and rowed 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean—from California to Australia—in nine months. The revealing, psychologically moving experience underscored that everyone who dedicates themselves to a task can do what might have been considered impossible. As one rower said at the emotional end of the journey, “I thought it was about finishing, but really it was about the journey.”
Moshman’s new project was funded by a Kickstarter campaign launched weeks before allegations of sexual abuse directed at producer Harvey Weinstein resulted in a flurry of similar stories coming forward. She was pregnant at the time. When a neighbor made a comment about what some guy would do to this baby, eventually, if it was a girl, that shook Moshman and her husband. His comments about her unborn child as a passive victim pushed her over the edge.
She raised almost $58,000 with 610 backers and plans to release the film, which she describes as “a documentary that examines the sexual harassment crisis in the American workplace through interviews and personal stories that recount experiences and reveal truths about the intricacies of the issue as a whole. It also shines a critical light on tools and solutions for everyone to use inspired by this watershed moment in our country’s history.”
At Smart Woman Summit, Mosman stressed, “We need to teach men to be empathetic and give them tools to be part of the solution, so they have words to use to speak up and be champions of women.” She added, “It comes down to empathy.”
Women also need to learn how to be assertive, she said. She defined assertiveness as “being strong about how people treat you.”
Her message for the women in the room? “Don’t wait for permission.”
Moshman ended by saying, “You are all extraordinary. You have a story to share and a voice and the power to take action. How you spend your dollar determines what is shown. Demand inspiring content that is respectful of women.”