In 2020, POV asked the We Are The Radical Monarchs filmmakers what's happened since the cameras stopped rolling.
What inspired you to share this story?
I first read an article about the Radical Monarchs and their co-founders in The Guardian in January of 2015. They had just formed in December of 2014 for a group of 12 girls, and yet received a slew of press after they were photographed marching in the Oakland Black Lives Matter march – wearing their Black Panther-inspired berets and carrying a banner that read "Radical Brownies" (the group’s original name). I read their mission and vision statements, and I felt incredibly inspired. I mean, how could I not be?
Their mission statement says “The Radical Monarchs create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities.”
Their vision statement says “The Radical Monarchs empower young girls of color so that they stay rooted in their collective power, brilliance, and leadership in order to make the world a more radical place.”
From the beginning, I knew I wanted to follow Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest – the organization’s Co-Founders - to see how two women who started a group for 12 girls would respond to the pressures of being asked to create troops across the country. At the time, both worked 60-hour weeks as community organizers plus were taking care of their own families, and when they received requests form over 200 cities across the US for troops...they were basically being asked to start a movement. The biggest change to my initial idea of ‘a year in the life’ of starting a movement was that we followed them for three-and-a-half years.
Have the founders and the original troop of Radical Monarchs seen the film - what did they think?
In pitching the idea for the film to the Co-Founders, I talked with them about this film being a collaboration. That I would show them the film at the fine-cut stage to get their input and feedback. I was there to document their work and amplify their story. They’ve shared that they feel the film captures their journey and pulls back the curtain on what it is to do this work. They really like how the film turned out!
Your other films have also featured young protagonists at critical points in their lives. What particularly draws you to documenting the stories of younger folks, and do you find that process to be very different from filming adults?
When we’re young, personal change feels amplified. Young protagonists are experiencing transformation in a way that feels especially powerful and authentic.. As a storyteller, I find that endlessly inspiring.
What was the most challenging aspect of filming?
I’ll be honest, the most challenging part of filming is actually raising the money to film. I work with the MOST incredible crew (of mostly women!), so they’re pretty unflappable and totally up to any challenges that arise. And they always have my back. One fun, case-in-point: about 45 minutes after we arrived at Anthony Chabot State Park, where the Radical Monarchs were doing their annual camping trip, the soles of BOTH of my hiking boots peeled off. The ground was hot, I’d worn them for many years...and they were the only footwear I brought with me. In a flash, our AP and 2nd-camerawoman Guisel Contreras, handed me a roll of duct tape! I didn’t even care that it was neon yellow...she 100% saved the day!
What are you working on now?
I started a new film in the Zero Tolerance/Family Separation space last year. We are looking at this story through the lenses of remarkable and badass women from both sides of the border, focusing on the families reunited with the help of Immigrant Families Together. We have found ways to continue filming through COVID, which of course has added a whole other level of difficulties and challenges for the asylum-seeking families. To get to know the two protagonists, folks can read their new book: The Book of Rosy - available in both Spanish and English.
The following questions were answered by Radical Monarchs Co-Founders Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest:
Can you tell us about what some of the Radical Monarchs featured in the film are up to now?
So many amazing things! A couple Monarchs ran for student body president positions at their school and won, others have participated in internships painting murals in their communities with social justice messages and are doing work around Food Justice, a couple teamed up at the High School and advocated for a Ethnic Studies class at their school. ALL alums have helped us interview and bring on new Radical Troop Leaders to lead our new Monarch chapters and are supporting and mentoring all our new Monarch littles in the new troops!
You have received a lot of requests to add chapters and grow the organization. Have you been able to do that?
Last Fall we launched our first cohort model of four new troops here in the Bay Area! It's been a great learning experience and a much more sustainable way for us to expand and grow our Radical Monarch movement. We are looking to support the launch of more cohorts in the Los Angeles area next and will continue to expand out from there! We continue to get requests from all over the country every day!