A SKIRT FULL OF BUTTERFLIES Video. 15 min. By Ellen Osborne and Maureen Gosling


Matriarchy. That is what explorers and other outsiders have simplistically labeled the Zapotecs of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Oaxaca, Mexico. The Isthmus is a place where women run the economy, where cultural identity is of utmost importance, where being fat is regarded as an ideal of beauty and where female ancestors displayed ingenuity and spunk in times of war and political resistance. Anthropologists call it a partnership society where one is first a human being, an individual and only second and incidentally a man or a woman. (It is a love poem to the Isthmus women.) We hear from five women whose stories are interlaced with scenes of work and the resplendent festivities, music, poetry and paintings of the region. They show how valuable economic independence, community, friendship, cultural pride and respect for “women's work” are in giving a woman self-esteem and a sense of purpose in life. They are also a testament to what that sense of dignity contributes to the well-being of society.

Knocks traditional machismo on its ear! –Guillermos Medina, El Mensajero, San Francisco

Colorful and sensual ... the women’s voices are heard strong and clear. –Film Arts Foundation Festival

Celebrates a rich tradition of independence and strength. – Daven Gee, Mill Valley Film Festival

Festivals and Special Showings

Honorable Mention Best Film - CineFestival, San Antonio, Texas

Festival de Cine-Video de las Primeras Naciones, Ecuador; won prize in honor of “The Women of the Isthmus”

Opened CineAcción’s Film and Video Festival, San Francisco

Broadcast on WYBE TV in Philadelphia and CiTV cable, Santa Monica, CA

Center for the Arts, San Francisco - played for five weeks

Select Film Festivals: EthnoFilmfest Berlin, Leipzig Documentary Film and Video Festival and Freiburg Film Festival, Germany; La 1ra Muestra de Cine de los Pueblos Indígenas de America - Madrid, Spain and La Paz, Bolivia; Margaret Mead Film Festival; Chicago Latino Film and Video Festival; National Museum of the American Indian’s Film and Video Festival, New York; Iowa State University Women’s Studies Conference, Iowa City, Iowa; Mill Valley Film Festival, Mill Valley, California; Film Arts Foundation Film and Video Festival, San Francisco