Park People Profile: Lucy Phenix

Park visitor Lucy Phenix, from her website

Lucy Massie Phenix has been walking in Cesar Chavez Park since 2008, when she moved to a houseboat in the Berkeley Marina. She says:

I love our park, especially at night and in the early morning when I have a chance to be surrounded by the stars and the beautiful night sky, the water, the meadows, the quiet of low flying owls.  I Love to be INSIDE and a PART OF the natural world even as the city, the highway, the trains howling by are so close.  

We are So fortunate to have our park and be able to care for it in our own ways.  I love to watch and photograph the birds, especially the Barn Owl babies and their parents, the Night Herons in the cypress trees, and the Red-winged Blackbirds in the fennel.

And as a gardener in the Marina  Share-n-Getty garden, in the last few years I am SO grateful and appreciate so much the work of Lukas Martinelli, who is teaching us all about the importance of the soil-making, carbon-trapping mycelium, and how easy and enriching our compost bins have made our garden.  And Marty’s careful observance of the Burrowing Owls that are here between October and April each year.  How lucky we are to have his films and the generosity of his blog.

Phenix is an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, working in the field for more than thirty years as an editor, producer and director. Her film “You Got to Move” (1985), about the grassroots social change in the South, was chosen by the MacArthur Foundation to be in its video collection in public libraries throughout the U.S. Phenix has recently selected excerpts from that feature film as a series of shorts about social change; the clips resonate with the movements for social justice now stirring across the country. She has made these short documentaries available free here. Here’s one of the four excerpts, titled “They Say I’m Your Teacher — The Story of Citizenship Schools:”

Phenix was one of the filmmakers who made “Winter Soldier” (1971), a documentary about and with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War at the Winter-soldier Investigation in Detroit. It was a prize winner at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, screened at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York City and televised once by WNET, but largely ignored during the Vietnam War by American press and distributors.

Two years after Phenix worked on “What Do We Do Now?” she collaborated with six other members of the Mariposa Film Group on “Word Is Out,” a two hour classic documentary on the experience of twenty-six gay women and men in the US. Phenix worked in 1980 as an editor on award winning documentary “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter,” a story of women involved in skilled trades during World War Two. The impetus for her work as producer/director/editor on “Cancer in Two Voices” (1993) was the death of her sister, Spivey, to breast cancer in 1989. The documentary is an intimate portrait of two women who speak openly about who they are as Jews, lesbians, friends and lovers.

In 1998, Phenix edited “Regret to Inform“, a deeply personal, yet universal portrayal of the lasting devastation of war through the eyes of women, Vietnamese and American widows of the Vietnam war. The film was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Feature Documentary and won the Indie Spirit Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

Lucy Phenix introducing her “Don’t Know We’ll See” film (2008)

Other films Lucy Massie Phenix has participated in include the following:

  • Wintersoldier, 1972
  • What Do We Do Now?, 1975
  • Word Is Out, 1977
  • The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, 1980
  • You Got to Move, 1985
  • Cancer in Two Voices, 1993
  • Regret to Inform, 1998
  • Don’t Know We’ll See, 2008

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