WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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If you are in desperate need for some hope for our future as a country – and who doesn’t need some positive energy these days – the documentary We Are the Radical Monarchs will fill in that gap quite nicely. Who are the Radical Monarchs you might ask. Think about a progressive scouting troop based in Oakland, Calif., that is dedicated to girls of color aged 8 to 13, one that empowers them to speak out on the wrongs and prejudices that are infecting our nation right now while learning how to stand up for social justice in myriad forms.

Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton initially focuses on the two female friends – one Latina, one Black and both gay mothers — who in 2014 came up with the idea of a Girl Scouts-type club that focused on serving their community, standing up for themselves and instilling pride in who they are. We witness how activists Anyavette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest connect to their charges while talking about such matters as police violence and gay pride in a way that they can understand. Their badges reflect such concerns as Black Lives Matter, sisterhood, radical self-love and joy. We learn that the founders of the movement have various branches now of Radical Monarchs around the U.S. But the true stars are the girls as one by one they come out of their shells, gain confidence, find their voices and express their concerns while bonding together as a unit.

Yes, at one point they go camping at a park and eat s’mores by a roaring fire. But these aren’t cookie pushers. Instead, these youngsters just might grow up to be saviors of our American ideals and principles. The doc sometimes is a little too you-go-girl, but the Radical Monarch members’ unfiltered words manage to keep it real.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We Are The Radical Monarchs is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 24, 2020

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Susan Wloszczyna

Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a contributor for the online awards site Gold Derby and is an Oscar expert for RogerEbert.com. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.