The Girls in the Band (educational)

  • Directed by: Judy Chaikin
  • Produced by: Judy Chaikin, Michael Greene, Nancy Kissock, Hugh M. Hefner
Released: 2013
Running Time: 88 mins
Subtitles: English
Subjects: Art Music and Design, African American Studies, Women's Studies

The award-winning documentary film THE GIRLS IN THE BAND tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists and their fascinating, history-making journeys from the late 30s to the present day. The many first-hand accounts of the challenges faced by these talented women provide a glimpse into decades of racism and sexism that have existed in America.

They wiggled, they jiggled, they wore low cut gowns and short shorts, they kowtowed to the club owners and smiled at the customers…and they did it all just to play the music they loved. In the thirties and forties, hundreds of women musicians toured the country in glamorous All-Girl Bands, while others played side by side with their male counterparts. Yet by the mid-fifties, female jazz musicians had literally disappeared from the workplace; their names, their contributions to music, completely forgotten.

These incredibly talented women endured sexism, racism and diminished opportunities for decades, yet continued to persevere, inspire and elevate their talents in a field that seldom welcomed them. Today, there is a new breed of gifted young women taking their rightful place in the world of jazz, which can no longer deny their talents. 


    • WINNER Audience Favorite & Best Documentary, Palm Springs International Film Festival - 2012
    • WINNER Audience Choice Award, Victoria Film Festival - 2012
    • WINNER Audience Choice Award, Omaha International Film Festival - 2012
    • WINNER Best Music Documentary, DOCUTAH - 2012
    • WINNER Best Feature Documentary, High Falls Film Festival - 2013
    • 1st Runner Up Audience Choice Award, Vancouver International Film Festival - 2011
    • Runner Up, Audience Choice Award, Cleveland International Film Festival - 2012
    • Runner Up, Audience Choice Award, Filmfest DC: The Washington DC International Film Festival - 2012


    "When it comes to jazz history, female instrumentalists are rarely mentioned, but director Judy Chaikin here gives them their belated due." Recommended! –Video Librarian

    "The film focuses on the early days when women’s orchestras, facing gender discrimination, were forced to wear ridiculous costumes, required to have long hair, and told to smile, as if their worth as musicians was secondary to their glamourous images. Personal interviews and historic film clips vividly reveal the struggles these women faced. Especially moving is the story of a young white woman, Rosalind Cron, who joined the predominantly African American International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and the perils of touring in the Jim Crow South. Also covered are the years during World War II, when work was easier to find, and the impact of the feminist movement of the 1970s. There is a wealth of extras, including extended interviews with these trailblazers and advice for women who aspire to work in the field. An accompanying teachers’ guide provides a rich resource of ideas for classroom extension, and a flash drive has online links to even more resources. This provocative and entertaining film will enlighten student viewers across many disciplines." - Library Journal Review