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Busting Out

An exploration of the history and politics of breast obsession in America, and its connection with breast cancer, breastfeeding and body image.

A printer-friendly version of this page 57 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith
Produced by Stir it Up Productions LLC
Director of Photography and Editor: Roy Wilson
Original score: Erik Aho

"In a country where a flash of breast on television can incur a crackdown of puritanical proportions, BUSTING OUT may be the proper antidote." International Documentary Magazine
BUSTING OUT is a disarmingly honest and intimate exploration of our society's fascination with women's breasts. Directors Strickwerda and Spellman Smith unflinchingly examine the good, the bad and the ugly sides of this American icon, delving into the history and politics of breast obsession in the US. From breast-crazy men shouting "Flash those racks!" to the fears of breast cancer and the disparate attitudes of cultures worldwide, the directors leave no stone unturned in their quest to demystify the American breast.

BUSTING OUT combines personal story-telling with devastating analysis, sad case histories with humor, and frank talk of sexual subjects with the sweet innocence of a young girl shopping for her first bra.

Told from the point of view of Strickwerda who lost her mother to breast cancer as a child, BUSTING OUT will challenge both women and men to question our obsession with breasts, and to gain a healthier perspective.

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2005     Copyright Date: 2004
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-254-8     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-253-X

"A liberating message-that there is more than one way to be a woman, more than one way to reside in a body, more than one way to look at a breast...[Busting Out] blends the right amount of personal journey with scholarly and historical discourse. It would be very useful for discussions about the politics of the body, and it should shake more than a few breast admirers out of their dogmatic slumber and cause them to question this-and many another-cultural assumption that just feels so natural and obvious...Suitable for high school and college courses in cultural anthropology, medical anthropology, anthropology of sex/gender, and American/Western culture studies, as well as general audiences."
Jack David Eller, Community College of Denver, Anthropology Review Database

"I love Busting Out! [It] is a riveting documentary that exposes all the contradictions women face as they navigate their relationships with their bodies. The filmmakers capture multi-generational and multi-cultural perspectives among women as they face a culture that over-sexualizes their breasts. The film encourages women to define for themselves their relationship with their breasts. I plan to use the film as part of an inquiry of body image and the politics of women's health."
Jill Eichhorn, Assoc. Prof. of English and Women's Studies, Austin Peay State University

"BUSTING OUT wittily, poignantly balances the political and the personal."
The Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MN

"[An] informative, entertaining and, at times, touching look at what it means to have breasts in a culture that values them as sex objects above all else....Although the subject is fem-centric, the film is intended for men as well. Topics like fatherhood (how men react when their little girls hit puberty) and what they go through when their partners have breast cancer are handled with clarity."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Delves into the American obsession with breasts through a mix of cheeky humor, historical detail and striking intimacy...Busting Out will strike a poignant and personal chord with women because many of Strickwerda's experiences, and those described throughout the film, are universal. And yet the work is also successful because it resonates with men as well. Ultimately the doc is a celebration of womanhood from a distinctly 21st-century perspective."
City Pages, Minneapolis

"Entertaining and touches on a number of topics on the general subject of breasts...with wit and candor."
The Seattle Times

"What is it about breasts that we find so titillating? Francine Strickwerda, who lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of six, tries to find the answer. We learn that it is a largely Western phenomena that began during the [14th century] and spread with the introduction of formula in the 19th century - today less than 60% of women nurse their children. And as women strive for the perfect bra to lift and separate, or undergo breast reductions, or augmentation, breasts have become both big business and a major source of anxiety. More troubling is the shocking toll of breast cancer: in the US, more women have died from it in 20 years than all American servicemen in all the major wars of the 20th century combined. Busting Out is enlightening, informative, humorous and moving. Everyone who owns a pair should see it."

"In an intimate documentary exploring the female breast through prepubescent development, breast feeding, cancer, and burlesque performances, Busting Out is layered with vignettes and personal stories of the maker and her struggle to make peace with a part of her she regarded as a death sentence."
Women in the Director's Chair Film Festival Program

"This frank exploration of a cultural phenomenon will be of interest to women of all ages, as well as to students of modern culture and sexuality. Recommended."
Library Journal

"***...Engaging, fun, informative, and thought-provoking, [Busting Out] is recommended."
Video Librarian

"The look of Busting Out is fresh and energizing. The filmmakers used a mix of interviews, 1950's educational films, and images from popular culture to great advantage... Overall, the production values are excellent... Busting Out is a documentary filled with insight and humor. It is recommended and would make an excellent starting point for discussion in a number of different contexts including gender studies, American studies, women's studies, and psychology."
Educational Media Reviews Online

"I can imagine an instructor or group leader using Busting Out to introduce the topic of Western women's breasts and their cultural and personal meanings, including the meaning of the loss of breasts (and the lives of women) to cancer."
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Busting Out web site
Busting Out trailer Windows Media version
Busting Out trailer Real Player version

Awards and Festivals
ALA Notable Videos for Adults 2006
CINE Golden Eagle
"Best Documentary" at the Nell Shipman Awards
Honorable Mention, Chicago International Television Awards
Finalist, Women's Health Category, International Health & Medical Media Awards
Seattle International Film Festival
Ashland Independent Film Festival
Women in the Director's Chair International Film Festival
Everett Women's Film Festival
Central Standard Film Festival
Western Psychological Association Film Festival
American Psychological Association Convention
United Nations Association Film Festival
Crossing Borders, Northwest Folklife Documentary Film Festival
Shoot Me Film Festival, The Hague

American Studies
Breast Cancer
Business Practices
Gender Studies
Mass Communications
Media Literacy
Social Psychology
Women's Studies

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