Women in the Front Seat
Directed by Indy Saini
Documentary | 74 minutes | USA | 2022 | English | CANADIAN PREMIERE
On a transformative solo cross country quest riding her Indian Scout motorcycle, filmmaker Indy Saini challenges her own fears, and an existential crisis, in search of other women who ride. Each connection leads to another rider or another community creating a cross country path, and many inspiring stories begin to unfold. Indy’s own story of growing up a mixed race kid struggling with self esteem and a sense of belonging, weaves through the stories of the women she meets, touching on the common themes of fear, freedom, camaraderie, personal permission and power. A vibrant and diverse picture is painted of women who not only drive their motorcycles, but their lives as well, breaking down stereotypes about women and women riders.
An inquisitive yet isolated kid I grew up straddling two worlds, my American home base in rural Pennsylvania and my dad’s homeland in Punjab, India. The stark difference in these environments shaped the beginnings of my creative explorations into what has become recurring themes in my work as a filmmaker: identity, belonging, and cross cultural connections.
Always drawn to challenges and things that go fast, I learned to ride a motorcycle in my early twenties. The roar of an engine and feeling of power as I kicked into first gear and tore out onto a long dirt road filled me. This was the turning point in my life, giving me a community I longed for and instilling a confidence that laid the foundation for who I am now.
My complex upbringing, my love for speed on two wheels, and my creative mission converged when I produced and directed the documentary Women in the Front Seat. Captured while braving my first solo cross country trip, the film paints the diverse landscape and inspiring stories of women who not only drive their motorcycles but drive their lives. In many ways, it is a metaphor of my life.
As I filmed this project, I realized I was seeking to move into my own front seat. To stop asking for permission, and put forward the ideas and images I believe in. A few years back I pitched a similar idea in an all male boardroom at a large studio, and was told no one was interested in this story of women riders, unless they were young, hot, and covered in dirt (to paraphrase). I disagreed, eventually getting on my bike to tell this story: of everyday women, facing tough life realities, challenging their fears, and leading powerful authentic lives.
I asked each of the women I met: who inspired you, who have been your heroes in life? For most of them these figures were men, not because they are more inspiring, but because they have historically been more visible. This film is one small part of my mission to shift that level of visibility. Expanding representation in mass media for women of all walks of life, across race, class and gender, to be seen and heard. Complex, multi-dimensional and totally bad-ass. As one woman in the film states “it’s time for more women to be inspired by women.”
Maninder “Indy" Saini is a South Asian American director and Emmy nominated cinematographer. Her films have screened around the world, winning various awards, and she's been selected as a finalist at Sundance and Meryl Streep Writing Labs. Her past documentary work as a cinematographer took her to the arctic to film Ice Bear, a National Geographic Wild special about the affects of climate change on polar bears for which she received an Emmy Nomination.
Mack Dihle, Tamale Sepp, Meredith Younger, Rosario Aybar, Tiara Shipton, Wendy Crockett, Montessa Crocket, Sarah Marquet, Diamond Schiffers Fletcher, Missy Benoit Parfumorse, Theresa Clemmons, Eva Rupert, Alison DeLapp, Linda Carmona, Bonnie Wolski, Valerie Dumond, Cathy Ripley Greene, Kelly Hartman Trekell, Tonya Lawson, Jan Belmore, Erin Smith, Casey Anders, Danielle Parrie, Rachel Wedel,
Indy Saini, Julia C. Liu, Lori Kallestad, Georgia Pantazopoulos, John Pingry, Qais Karadsheh, Sterling Noren, Keith Heyward, Mike Gratzmiller, Mike Loomer
Music & Sound
Catherine Joy, Rob Marshall