Women of Slender Means

"Women of Slender Means" follows five of the 300 women living at the YWCA Brooklyn. Told with grace and humor, their stories reveal multidimensional lives of unseen women, as well as overlooked perspectives on the history of the city itself: courageous tales of migration, gentrification, poverty, urban planning, community faith and perseverance.

We meet Frances, a WWII veteran who arrived during the Great Migration, hoping to escape segregation; Ann, an activist who worked at the infamous Willowbrook School, and is a witness to gentrification; Mary, raised by nuns in an orphanage twice burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan; Cheryl, a Native American 82nd Airborne veteran who suffers from PTSD; and Wendy, born into privilege and a survivor of violent abuse.

"Women of Slender Means" “isn’t a film of tragedy, hardship and injustice—it’s a film about love and compassion, and how it counters all those things.”

  • Allison Prete
    Lavender Lake: Brooklyn's Gowns Canal; Westbest Growing Up
  • Allison Prete
  • Allison Prete
  • William Murray
  • Caroline Petersen
  • Amy Sirot
  • Ann Thompson
    Key Cast
  • Frances Charlton
    Key Cast
  • Mary Dixon
    Key Cast
  • Cheryl Dupris
    Key Cast
  • Wendy Davis
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature, Short
  • Runtime:
    47 minutes 49 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    December 3, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    200,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Allison Prete

Allison Prete is a documentary filmmaker who has produced and directed films for television (including PBS) and theatrical release. Her work has been screened at festivals worldwide, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The New York City Transit Museum and the George O’Keefe Museum, and is in the permanent collections of the Donnell Library and the New York Historical Society. She has received the Municipal Arts Society’s highest honor, the Brendan Gill Award, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She has served on the board and as Vice-President of the NY Film and Video Council and as a juror for the Brooklyn Arts Council’s film festival and Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Movies With a View. She was also co-founder and artistic director of the acclaimed film series, Big Movies for Little Kids.

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Director Statement

The director’s past works share important themes with "Women of Slender Means". Her first film, "Westbeth Growing Up", explores her own experience of growing up in Westbeth Artists’ Housing, an affordable complex in New York City. The Gowanus Canal, the subject of her film "Lavender Lake", follows a community dreaming and battling over a new and suddenly desirable New York City landscape. All three films explore urban place through the experiences of the people most affected -- those who live and work there.