Indie film distributor 1091 Pictures, formerly known as The Orchard, has acquired the digital worldwide rights to Yu Gu’s feature-length documentary A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem.
The 80-minute film, which enjoyed its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, follows the unfolding of a 2014 lawsuit in which two NFL cheerleaders — one working with the Oakland Raiders organization and the other, a former Buffalo Bills cheerleader, fought for fair compensation.
The NFL serves as the wealthiest North American professional sport league by revenue, making an estimated US$11 billion in annual profits, yet at that time allegedly paid its cheerleaders below minimum wage – reportedly less than team mascots and concession workers.
The doc follows as one of the cheerleaders enlists an all-female employment law firm to sue the Raiders for wage theft in a class-action lawsuit, and serves as an exploration of toxic masculinity in culture and the ingrained devaluation of women’s labor.
In 2017, a class-action lawsuit was brought against the NFL and its member teams that alleged similar working conditions and wage disparity.
A Woman’s Work is produced by Gu and Elizabeth Ai. Jin Yoo-Kim is listed as a co-producer, and Chris Nguyen and Samanta Helou Hernandez are associate producers.
Sally Jo Fifer serves as executive producer alongside supervising producer Michael Ehrenzweig. Monika Navarro is consulting producer.
The deal was negotiated by Emma Manfredi, manager of film distribution at 1091 Pictures.
“This film couldn’t be more timely in 2021 with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris shattering racial and gender barriers for women in the workplace,” said Gu in a statement. “However, we have yet to level the playing field. I hope this film can help inspire viewers, especially women, to recognize their value, to challenge harmful systems and to support each other along the way.”
Elsewhere, 1091 Pictures has also acquired all digital rights to Megan Harrington and Jonathan Cipiti’s women’s basketball documentary The House That Rob Built.
The 59-minute film, which made its world premiere at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival earlier this year, charts the story of pioneering women’s college basketball coach Robin Selvig, who completed his 38th and final season as head coach of the Lady Griz team at the University of Montana, in 2015-16.
Long seen as one of the most underrated but influential basketball coaches, Selvig boasts a winning percentage of .752 with 865 career wins throughout his nearly four decades as bench boss at the University of Montana. He is the only retired coach in the Top 10 of women’s college basketball not to be in the Hall of Fame.
Co-director Harrington was a former player under Coach Selvig and has spent the last four years making the film.
The House That Rob Built is produced by Family Theater Productions and Windrider Productions in association with Five-Star Basketball and RTG Features.
The film will be available to purchase or rent nationwide beginning Feb. 23, 2021.