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Anonymous Was A Woman

Allison Prete

Anonymous Was A Woman follows four of the 300 residents living at the Brooklyn YWCA, shedding light on women’s struggles in supporting themselves in urban areas. There is a story behind every door, some highlighting incredible resiliency, others the point at which resiliency is not enough. They must find a way to hold on or face living in the streets.


ANONYMOUS WAS A WOMAN -- work sample 2014 from Allison Prete on Vimeo.  

Once a place that vaulted young women into economic and social stability, today the Brooklyn YWCA catches women as they fall through the holes of a tattered social safety net. While it may seem that women have made great strides over the past century, the Brooklyn YWCA exposes the broader truths of the adversity and vulnerability women face in society today, particularly finding affordable housing. Anonymous Was a Woman follows four of the YWCA’s 300 residents revealing poverty, illness and abuse. It focuses on their attempts to create communion and community in a time and place where even the most tenuous of connections can mean survival, in the most expensive and economically unequal city in the nation. Yet the Brooklyn YWCA is in a precarious financial situation and if it were to close, the women would be left on the street with no recourse.

Their struggles and aspirations are revealed at communal gatherings and behind closed doors, and woven together with the notable history of the institution and the ongoing battle to fend off developers. In a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn, it remains to be seen whether the administrators can hold on to the building, and whether the women will be able to hold on to the lives they’ve built there – however marginal.

Anonymous Was A Woman is currently in production, with over 150 hours of footage shot. Post-production will begin in early 2015. The film will be completed late 2015.

Key Personnel:  

Allison Prete, Director/Producer
Caroline Petersen, Co-Producer
Amy Sirot, Co-Producer
William Murray, Co-Producer/Director of Photography
Nicole Hale, Composer  

Anonymous Was A Woman is supported by the New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA). It is also sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council for the Arts, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council.