Punahou grad Kimberlee Bassford never experienced what women in previous generations did--heavy doors slamming shut at bastions of education, the same doors that opened to men.
The doors swung open to Kim because she came along after Title IX, the federal law spearheaded by Hawaii's U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, providing gender equity in education. Kim says she never doubted she would be able to go to college, to play sports, to pursue her career goals.
Kim, now 31, grew up on Oahu. She graduated from Harvard University, then obtained a master's in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.
She was in grad school when Patsy Mink died in 2002.
"I knew she was our longtime Congresswoman but I was surprised to learn that she was the first woman of color in Congress as well as the co-author of Title IX, legislation that I directly benefited from," said Kim, who also is an Asian American. "Upon reading about her life, I had an emotional reaction. I was offended by the discrimination she faced and inspired by her courage and dogged determination."
Later Kim would meet with Mrs. Mink's husband John, who has since passed away, and daughter Wendy to see if they'd be supportive of a film. They were. Kim spent the next few years fundraising. (PBS Hawaii is one of the major funders, providing services and links. We believe it is a compelling local story as well as a powerful national story.)
The resulting film, Kim's "Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority," was screened last week at the Hawaii International Film Festival--with Wendy Mink traveling from the East Coast for the occasion.
I'm pleased to report that the film will make its broadcast debut Thursday, October 30 on PBS Hawaii. Watch our "PBS Hawaii Presents" hour at 8:30pm.
Kim's advice for young filmmakers: "Above all, choose a subject that you're passionate about and can sustain you. It can take several years to raise enough funds to begin production..and several more to produce and finish the film. Also, be patient and persistent in the fundraising stage and well-organized and flexible in the filmmaking stage."