Dee Rees Helms ‘An Uncivil War,’ A Historical Drama on the Fight for the Equal Rights Amendment

By Sameer Rao Oct 04, 2017

Filmmaker Dee Rees ("Mudbound") is working on a film about a major legislative battle in the ongoing struggle for gender equity.

Deadline reported yesterday (October 3) that Rees, whose best-known movies follow Black protagonists fighting for personal autonomy, will write and direct "An Uncivil War" through FilmNation Entertainment. Per the entertainment outlet, the film will depict the legislative battles that almost turned the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) into the law of the land.

Feminist and suffragist advocates first introduced the failed amendment—which would have guaranteed "equality of rights under the law" regardless of gender—in 1923. Deadline’s description notes that "An Uncivil War" specifically focuses on the height of activity around the ERA in the 1970s, when women’s movement participants (including many Black advocates like Florynce "Flo" Kennedy and Shirley Chisholm) suported it. The measure passed in both houses of Congress and was on the way to being ratified in the required number of states until right-wing leader Phyllis Schlafly organized conservative women to oppose it. 

"I’m particularly interested in digging into the messiness of the women’s movement—the many different alliances that were formed and fractured and exploring who got left behind versus who got remembered,” Rees told Deadline. “The richness and texture of this story lie in the complicated bargains struck and broken in the imperfect, stuttering trajectory toward equality."

Deadline adds that the film will begin production early next year. Rees latest film, "Mudbound," which depicts the racism encountered by two Black World War II veterans upon their return to Mississippi, streams on Netflix starting November 17.