“If we [women] hold up half the sky, where’s our half the road right now?” This is the question posed by director Kathryn Bertine in her documentary, Half the Road: The Passions, Pitfalls and Power of Women’s Professional Cycling. Bertine is the 2013 Caribbean Champion, three-time national champion of St. Kitts and Nevis, and has published two books. When she failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics due to a clerical error, she decided to find out if other people had similar experiences.
“When I saw how many women were willing to discuss the state of cycling,” she said. “That’s when I knew that this documentary would be something.”
Half the Road features interviews with a range of administrators and sportspeople, including Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the all-male Boston Marathon in 1967, and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalists Kristin Armstrong (USA) & Marianne Vos (NED).
Professional female cyclists earn only a fraction of their male counterparts’ earnings. At the time of filming, women had been disallowed from the Tour de France for years.
“There’s one question I get after almost every screening,” said Bertine. “People are fired up after watching it: well, what can we do? And I’m so grateful for it because there actually is still power in the people, as we saw with 97,000 signatures for the women’s Tour de France.”
The tour organizers took notice. A women’s section, La Course, has been added to the 2014 Tour de France.
“We’re in an era where the internet really is big brother,” said Kathryn. “People can can create a demand by even being the tiniest bit vocal about lack of coverage. Every time somebody clicks like or favorites or forwards, big brother is watching.”
As a non-cyclist, I enjoyed Half the Sky because of the inspirational determination of the sportswomen, and because I learned a lot about why people love the sport. Even Susan B. Anthony said, “It gives her a feeling of freedom, self reliance and independence. It is the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
Half the Road is playing at Cinema Village from April 18 until April 24.
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