Therese Shechter is a filmmaker, writer, and multi-media storyteller based in Brooklyn. Her work fuses humor and personal storytelling to disturb what's considered most sacred about womanhood. She uses popular media to explore how women shape their identities in the face of a society that seeks to define them. Her in-progress documentary "My So-Called Selfish Life," takes on the very heart of female identity: motherhood. This taboo-busting project chronicles the rise of a growing community of women who don’t want children and who reject the message that a woman’s most important, natural–and perhaps only–role is to be a mother.
Her most recent documentary, How To Lose Your Virginity (2013), is about the mythology and misogyny around female sexuality. Mic said the film “might make you rethink everything you know about sex,” and the Australia's Daily Life called her “part of a new vanguard of feminist thinkers and media makers.”
She also curates and edits The V-Card Diaries, a crowd-sourced collection of almost 400 stories of “sexual debuts and deferrals.” A searchable interactive extravaganza, it was created as a companion to How To Lose Your Virginity for its audience to share their own stories. Developed through POV Hackathon, the project fuses technology, design and sex education, and was exhibited at The Kinsey Institute’s Juried Art Show in 2013 as their first interactive piece.
Some of Therese's side projects include developing TV and web media on sexuality aimed at millennials, and co-hosting the monthly podcast Downton Gabby, a 'funny, feminist and foul-mouthed' dish that used to be about the world-wide TV phenomenon Downton Abbey. But now that the series is over, the podcast focuses on pop culture created by and about women. Recent episodes discussed the teen shows adult ladies love (Freaks and Geeks, anyone?) and HBO's new Female Gaze.
Therese's work is in the collections of hundreds of schools, organizations and libraries. Her other documentaries include the award-winning I Was A Teenage Feminist (2005) and How I Learned To Speak Turkish (2006), and the short films #SlutWalkNYC (2013) and Vinnie: I Break For Cycles (2015), and the animated short Womanly Perfection (2003)
These films have been shown at festivals from Florence to Rio de Janeiro to Istanbul, and Therese was incredibly honored to be a filmmaker and panelist at Serbia’s first-ever Women’s Film Festival. She often speaks at universities and galleries including NYU, Duke, Yale, MIT, Penn State, Galapagos Art Space and the Brooklyn Museum. Therese was also a featured panelist at Harvard’s ‘Rethinking Virginity’ Conference, and she has partnered with Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice NY, and Spark Movement to create programs on healthy sexuality and relationships for young women and men.
You can learn about her work through media coverage at Salon, The Atlantic, Vice, The Chicago Tribune, Elle, The Guardian, Feministing, CBC's Q and The Jakarta Globe, among others, and Therese has herself written for Real Simple, The Nib, Chicago Tribune, Talking Points Memo, Nerve and Women & Hollywood as well as her own long-running blog (which prompted a conservative blogger to call her a “brazen advocate of slut culture” Yay!). Therese's work has received support from the Jerome Foundation, New York Women in Film and Television, POV Hackathon and Stanford University Law School Fair Use Project.
Before she became a filmmaker, Therese led the graphics and art direction departments at the Chicago Tribune, and served as visual editor for two of their Pulitzer-Prize-winning projects. She has also freelanced as an art director for Newsweek, The New York Times, Fortune and other New York publications. Therese began her film career in 1999, after attending Columbia College Film School in Chicago. She moved to New York to join Robert De Niro's production company Tribeca Films (where she once got him a triple espresso), and subsequently worked with Macky Alston on his HBO documentary Questioning Faith, coordinated outreach events for PBS's Project Islam, and volunteered at the Sundance Film Festival from 2001 - 2007.
Therese's studio Trixie Films is based in Brooklyn.
Selected Filmography (as director, producer and writer)
- My So-Called Selfish Life [doc feature, in progress]
- Vinnie: I Brake for Cycles [doc short, 2015]
- How To Lose Your Virginity [doc feature, 2013]
- #SlutWalkNYC [doc short, 2013]
- The End [ narrative short, 2010]
- How I Learned to Speak Turkish [ doc short, 2006, winner jury prize Atlanta Film Festival]
- I Was A Teenage Feminist [ doc feature, 2005, winner audience award, NCJW; special mention, Karachi Film Festival]
- Womanly Perfection [ animated short, 2003]
“Shechter’s ability to teach, dismantle, expose and explore is remarkable. When a documentary can do that, it succeeds in a big way.”
— Bitch Flicks
"RISD students loved hearing from an artist who understands the power of being an image-maker and uses that power to bring insight to significant social issues."
– RISD Feminists,
Rhode Island School of Design
“Therese helped us all dispel old notions and challenged us to think about our own beliefs in an interesting and inclusive way.”
–Student Coordinators, Harvard