Not to be confused with the forthcoming and long-awaited feature film based on the DC Comic character, ‘Wonder Women’ is a brilliant, powerful and much-needed documentary series now streaming on Feeln, a video-on-demand subsidiary of Hallmark, the network known for its feel-good family movies and content.
Most people are already familiar with other digital streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, but Feeln is the platform you need to add to your device today. It was founded by Oscar-winning producer Rob Fried in 2007. With average subscriptions as low as $2.99 per month, we cannot emphasize enough why this is a small price to pay for such a important series like ‘Wonder Women’.
It debuted on September 22 with an episode based in India. Episode 6 will air on October 27, and conclude a series that has taken viewers from India, to Brazil, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and Colorado.
“All across the globe, ordinary women are accomplishing extraordinary things, breaking down boundaries and carving their own paths. They’re the first into the flames in Mexico, battling poachers in South Africa, and exploring the icy depths of Japan. They are adventurers, heroes, trailblazers and explorers. Pioneers and groundbreakers in male dominated fields, making the world a better place anyway they can. These women are anything but ordinary. They’re Wonder Women,” says a description about the series.
Episode 1 showcases a group of women who are defying cultural norms and social traditions. In India, the Dalit are the lowest caste in the social order. Women are especially vulnerable to mistreatment, restrictions and control. But a group of young women from Dindigul are finding their voice and breaking tradition, drumming for equality in a prestigious and male dominated musical competition – the first female performers in its history.
Episode 2 follows the incredible work of women in Japan who are taking the plunge for a job very few people are brave enough to do. For centuries, the Ama Free Divers have braved the icy, desolate waters of Japan. Plunging over 30 feet without air tanks, operating in treacherous waters, navigating unseen dangers of the deep just to feed their families. It is a practice all but forgotten in the East. But today, two women keep the tradition alive. 80 year-old hunters, the last practitioners of an ancient and forgotten tradition.
Both episodes 1 and 2 were directed by Tani Ikeda, and the rest of the series features an all-female line-up of directors including Cristina Malavenda, Tamara Rosenfeld, Iliana Guevara, and Kiran Deol.
There are very few series that can boast such a wealth of female talent behind the camera in such a robust way. Ava DuVernay’s ‘Queen Sugar’ on the Oprah Winfrey Network made quite a stir before it even began airing because the Golden Globe-nominated director made the conscious decision to hire only female directors for the show. And it was entirely done on purpose.
And the second major series to do the same is Netflix’s ‘Jessica Jones’. Creator Melissa Rosenberg announced at an industry event in Hollywood that all 13 episodes of season 2 will be directed by women. The show is already known for its strong female protagonist and has a female showrunner, and on third of the episodes in season 1 were directed by women which is already a huge ratio, according to Gizmodo.
Statistics show during the 2015-2016 TV season, women made up only 11% of directors on shows featured on broadcast, cable, and streaming services. The annual ‘Boxed In’ report compiled by San Diego University’s Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television also found that number was DOWN a percentage point from the previous year. Yikes…
It will be interesting to see how ‘Queen Sugar’ and ‘Wonder Women’ will alter those numbers in future studies, and whether they will set a new bar across the industry. In front of the camera, the numbers fare a little better for women, but aren’t exactly equal. Across the same three platforms, the study found women made up only 39% of all speaking characters (this is non-fiction and scripted content) and this number has not changed for a decade. An. Entire. Decade.
Let that sink in for a moment.
When we read stats like this, we don’t believe promoting content like the ‘Wonder Women’ is just a great idea, it is an imperative. Visual mediums like film and TV are incredibly powerful and have the ability to shape an entire generation’s perspective on gender.
If women and girls have access to content showing them what a heroic woman looks like around the world, octogenarian free divers in Japan, taboo-defying dancers in India, fire-fighting rescuers in Mexico, poacher-stopping activists in South Africa, and crime-stopping watchdogs in Brazil, the possibilities in their own lives will seem endless.
It’s not enough to present a narrow version of what a “hero” looks like. Audiences need to see everyday men and women who are changing the world, making strides for progress and equality and creating more and more opportunities. While young boys have the luxury of seeing a plethora of male heroes to look up to in a range of industries and fields, we are finally at a stage where the entertainment industry recognizes we need to do the same for girls.
“Audiences are hungry for powerful female-driven stories. It was important for us to tell the stories of women who are accomplishing extraordinary things, and how empowered women improve the lives around them as well,” said Cristina Malavenda, head of production at Feeln and executive producer of the series.
If the videos shown throughout this article have whet your appetite and you want to see more, sign up for a Feeln subscription today and begin streaming the full ‘Wonder Women’ series.