by Julia Pierrepont III
PARK CITY, the United States, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- It is 10 degrees below zero centigrade in Park City, where the Sundance Film Festival is performed every year, but the Women's Respect Rally Saturday really heated things up.
Despite steady snowfall and sub-zero temperatures, a thousand women and men braved the cold of the U.S. western state of Utah, warmed by their collective outrage, to commemorate the anniversary of the mega 2017 Women's March which drew an estimated 4.5 million protesters nationwide -- the largest American demonstration in history.
Academy, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress and fitness guru Jane Fonda told the rapt crowd that as women, "when we are equal, we are not abused ... But, this kind of change doesn't just come about through protest. It comes through organizing."
Fonda urged activists everywhere to get out and vote to "take back governorships ... Get Congress back."
Looking fit and fabulous at 80, in a black cowboy hat and a belted Mackintosh, Fonda, a lifelong feminist, civil rights and anti-war activist, is no stranger to political demonstrations.
She first drew controversy back in the 1970's as the first Hollywood celebrity to visit Hanoi to protest the war.
A victim of sexual abuse herself in her youth, Fonda has worked for years to help other abuse victims to "realize that (rape and abuse) is not our fault." She has also said women need to "help men understand why they are so threatened -- and change the way we view masculinity."
A young African American woman, who identified herself as Neesia, told Xinhua, "Women's rights are human rights -- is that really so hard to understand?"
In a sea of evocative signs reading, "The Future is Female," "A Woman's Place is in the House -- and the Senate," "Dream Act Now," "Grab 'em by the Ballots" and "Love not Hate makes America Great," leading women's rights advocate and attorney, Gloria Allred, stirred up the crowd.
"Resist. Persist. Insist. Elect," she chanted, promoting the growing grassroots movement to elect more women to U.S. political office.
Allred is being honored at Sundance this year with the screening of a Netflix documentary about her life and work in support of women's rights, "Seeing Allred," a play on the words "seeing all red," which has been Allred's rallying call-to-arms in support of women's rights for decades.
"Seeing Allred" was produced by Marta Kauffman, best known for the hit shows "Friends" and "Grace and Frankie."
Lena Waithe, Emmy Award-winning writer of Netflix's "Master of None," lifted attendees' spirits by affirming, "I think society is a lot further than some people want to give us credit for, but we still gotta keep working."
She also told Xinhua that the press "reminds us who we are, all of our flaws and all of our beauty."
Other notables in attendance were "Thor: Ragnarok's" Tessa Thompson, "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor's" Maria Bello, "Parks and Recreation's" Nick Offerman, "Kick-Ass's" Chloe Moretz, "The Mayor's" Daveed Diggs, "Def Poetry's" Rafael Casal, "The Iron Lady's" Phoebe Waller-Bridge, "Alice In Wonderland's" Mia Wasikowska, "Captain Fantastic's" Kathryn Hahn, and Native American activists Sage Trudell and Bart Powaukee.
Thompson told Xinhua, "Until we see legislation and policy and a president who respects our humanity ... we must continue to gather and tell each other's stories."
Local politicians, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Utah candidate for Senate, Jenny Wilson, also showed up to join in the protest.
Cynthia Levine, the rally organizer, revealed that she spearheaded the rally to honor the victories of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and to continue to bring long-overdue recognition and awareness to issues like women's rights, immigration reform, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) rights, racial equality, healthcare reform, freedom of religion and environmental protection.
While Sundance should be recognized for providing a greater voice for women and minorities' projects than usual in Hollywood, it too has its dark side.
Allred told Xinhua, "Some of my Weinstein clients have alleged that their victimization took place at Sundance, so, we still have to be extra vigilant."
"But, 37 percent of the 122 feature films being screened at Sundance are directed by women and that's an important start," Allred said.