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’We have never been more divided.’ Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s new documentary explores inequality

‘It is time to close the gap.’ Jennifer Siebel Newsom launches campaign for equal pay

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom launches a campaign to narrow the gender pay gap in California on the east steps of the state Capitol on Monday, April 1, 2019. She’s leading the Equal Pay California campaign alongside Time’s Up.
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First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom launches a campaign to narrow the gender pay gap in California on the east steps of the state Capitol on Monday, April 1, 2019. She’s leading the Equal Pay California campaign alongside Time’s Up.

California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s new documentary explores the intersection of economic inequality and sexism while promoting many of the same political priorities her husband has embraced as governor.

At a screening of her new film The Great American Lie in Sacramento on Tuesday evening, Siebel Newsom said her film aims to reveal how wealth disparities in the United States are rooted in gender inequality.

“Nobody had really delved into the connection between our gender values and social and economic mobility and the American Dream not being the reality it’s purported to be,” she said. “We have never been more divided, I would argue, hence Great American Lie was born.”

The film features appearances by Siebel Newsom’s husband Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Linda Darling-Hammond, whom Newsom appointed to lead the State Board of Education. It features stories of various people struggling with economic inequality: an Oakland middle school principal, steelworkers in Ohio and an activist promoting changes to the criminal justice system.

The film is the third Siebel Newsom has directed and written. Her first documentary, Miss Representation, explored harm caused by female stereotypes in media. Her second, the Mask You Live In, investigated how society pressures boys to fit a narrow stereotype of masculinity.

The Great American Lie takes clear aim at Donald Trump, presenting the Republican president as a very wealthy man who took advantage of economic struggles of many low-wage workers to win their votes.

The governor attended the Tuesday screening with his two eldest children. The film promotes many of the same policies he is pushing in his budget proposal, including increased spending on early childhood education and child care.

“Nothing is wrong with my kids,” Oakland principal Ruby De Tie says during the film, summing up one of the documentary’s themes. “Everything is wrong with the system.”

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