A Single Woman is the story of first US Congresswoman and lifelong pacifist, Jeannette Rankin (Jeanmarie Simpson). Her humble beginnings in Montana during the era of the Indian Wars awakened her deeply pacifist nature.
She ran for Congress in 1916 and won, against all odds. The subject of her first vote (against President Wilson’s WWI war resolution) set the stage for her destiny. Most of the Suffragists who supported her campaign turned against her, believing that her anti-war vote made women look weak and hurt the movement.
In 1920, Jeannette was founding vice-president of the American Civil Liberties Union who, in 1933, tried to persuade President Roosevelt to revise immigration laws and allow Jewish refugees into the United States.
Twenty-two years later, in 1940, Jeannette was re-elected as Congresswoman from Montana on a peace platform and once again voted against a world war, this time as the lone anti-war voice in the American Legislature. She was mobbed and vilified and spent the rest of her life traveling to India and studying the teachings and methods of Mohandas Gandhi and the effects of colonialism on peoples all over the world.
During the Vietnam era, she enjoyed a renaissance when the anti-war culture of the day celebrated her perseverance as a dedicated pacifist and human rights advocate. She died in 1973.
The film begins in 1972, when Jeannette Rankin is 92 years old and vigorously engaged in Second Wave Feminism as well as the anti-war movement. As the film moves backward in time through her years working as the first US Congresswoman, peace lobbyist, suffragist and labor advocate, a tale of an encounter between settlers and American Indians moves forward concurrently.
This pivotal story from Jeannette's childhood is told through a series of exquisite hand-drawn illustrations of the American frontier in the late nineteenth century and voiced by prominent actor/activists.
Cutting-edge filmmaking techniques coupled with the contributions of virtuoso artists such as Joni Mitchell, Patricia Arquette, Karen Black, Peter Coyote, Mimi Kennedy, Margot Kidder, Elizabeth Peña and Cindy Sheehan, elevates A Single Woman to transcend traditional biography.