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Ferry Tales

Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Short, FERRY TALES exposes a secret world that exists in the powder room of the Staten Island Ferry--a place that brings together suburban moms and urban dwellers, white-collar and blue-collar, sisters and socialites. For 30 minutes every day, they gather around mirrors to put on their makeup – talking not as wives, mothers, or professionals, but just as themselves. Sassy and honest, they dish on everything from sex scandals to stilettos, family problems to September 11th, leaving stereotypes at the door and surprising viewers with their straight-shooting wisdom. In broaching such topics as divorce, single motherhood and domestic violence, FERRY TALES goes beyond the surface to show us the realities of life for working women. A rare and honest look at the intersections of race and class, this heartwarming film is also a must have for women’s studies, urban studies and sociology departments. Utterly charming and often outrageous, FERRY TALES gives these unlikely heroines their moment in the spotlight.

'Esson's film gives a fantastic glimpse into one of the countless secret sub-cultures of New York. Her brilliant portrayal rethinks class and gender and turns our ideas of the suburban/urban divide on their head...with important lessons for sociology, women's studies, and urban history alike."
K.E. Fleming New York University

Highly recommended...Absorbing ...a useful addition to collections supporting urban or women’s studies.”
Educational Media Reviews Online

“A delightful microcosm of a diverse group of women…their views of the world, race, relationships, and the challenges and the joys of the working woman in today’s society.”
Meira Blaustein Executive Director, Woodstock Film Festival

“An exploration of a floating community, both transitory and enduring, cliquish and inclusive, performative and insular, this engaging documentary gives new meaning to the notion of the transference of identity…an important contribution to the study of gendered space, racial politics, and urban class dynamics.”
Joseph Boles Dept of Humanities, Arts, and Religion, Northern Arizona University


Main credits

Esson, Katja (film director)
Esson, Katja (film producer)
Esson, Katja (photographer)
Schenk, Sabine (film producer)
Sager, Corinna (film producer)

Other credits

Camera, Martina Radwan, Katja Esson; editors, Sabine Hoffman, Moira Demos.

Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

Diversity, Family Relations, Labor Studies, Sociology


Social Issues, Womanhood; "Ferry Tales"; Women Make Movies