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Nonprofit to premiere “Rosie” movie

By Staff | Jun 10, 2011

A West Virginia nonprofit will hold a screening for a documentary film showcasing the lives and work of real-life “Rosie the Riveters” at the Erma Ora Byrd Center as part of an effort to bring national awareness to the “Rosie the Riveter” history.

The film called “We Pull Together: Rosie the Riveters, Then and Now” was produced by award-winning documentary filmaker B.J. Gudmundsson who worked in cooperation with the nonprofit “Thanks! Plain and Simple.”

Anne Montague, executive director of the nonprofit, spearheaded the more than four-year effort to locate “Rosies” to tell their story.

Montague said her goal was to actively involve them in the process of educating others about their work. The documentary film is one of the many “educational tools,” including things like an alphabet book and workshops for teachers, that are being developed about the “Rosie the Riveter” history.

Though Montague began working out of Charleston, she hopes that with the premiere of the film, “Thanks! Plain and Simple” can expand the “Rosie” movement to the Eastern Panhandle and eventually the entire nation.

Montague said the film demonstrates how the “Rosies” pulled together and became a community working together for the cause of freedom. She hopes people will come together now to embrace the “Rosie” story.

“The women have showed us that they can pull together. The country needs to pull together,” she said.

Gudmundsson said the film will provide viewers with information that many of the “Rosies” feel has been left out of the history books.

Gudmundsson said that films like this are important educational opportunities because they explore the human experiences that make up American history and go beyond dates and facts.

“It’s important that people be able to tell their own stories in their own words,” she said.

Gudmundsson, who works independently, won the West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year award in 2005 for her film “30 Cal Price and the Pocahontas Times.”

Gudmundsson has produced at least 17 other documentaries chronicling historical and cultural topics.

For the “Rosies” film, Gudmundsson said she combined the 60 hours of footage collected by the nonprofit and videographers around the state, including Shepherd University professor Kevin Williams, and drafted it into a 70-minute documentary.

Gudmundsson described the finished product as a “conversation” that pulls together anecdotes from each of the 34 women interviewed.

The film will chronicle both the work lives of the “Rosies” featured and the personal impact the war had on each woman’s life.

Both Montague and Gundmusson expressed a sense of urgency about telling the “Rosies” story.

Montague hopes the film will kick off a national movement to find and document the “Rosies” legacy before it’s too late.

‘Women are leaving us frequently to health or death. It’s imperative to us to get women while their still living,” she said.

Gundmusson hopes that this film will inspire more work like it.

“There are lots of stories still yet to be told,” she said.

The flim will premiere tonight, Friday June 10 at 6:30 p.m at the Shepherd University Erma Ora Byrd Auditorium. A reception will preceed the film beginning at 5 p.m. Many “Rosies” featured in the film plan to attend.