In a flash, they are attending various high schools throughout Baltimore and are also bringing new young women into the group, expanding its reach. Tackling teenage pregnancy, family problems, illness, and a member’s decision to become transgender, the girls continue to track each other’s lives. They learn to raise money for their Wings project, express themselves in meaningful ways, and listen and talk to one another because their home life does not allow such. At one point, the group enjoys a wintery gathering visiting Baltimore’s famous 34th Street block’s holiday light show and celebrating with a dinner where the bonding transcends into a necessity for existence.
Throughout Anatomy of Wings, co-director Nikiea Redmond provides commentary on what is happening and why along with the racial division that is a major undertone for the entire project. A tipping point for Wings occurs at a group retreat where the young women are in a very definitive place of life-changing events and tensions arise. The group is facing new challenges and separating as adult commitments are now present.
“…succeed[s] in remarkable fashion…”
The difficulty of these young, black women succeeding in the face of their existence, especially constantly battling racial division, is not an easy one. Still, the Wings’ women are up for the challenge, although it comes at the price of parenting and job security issues. However, it appears that they have developed survival attitudes. In a decision to finish the documentary, all the women connect and relish in their experience together as they check-in and discover where each other’s paths have led them. They want to conclude Wings but not their friendships and, above all, the second family that has led them to who they became and what seems to be a better existence than what they knew as children.
With over ten years of footage, it must have been a Herculean project to edit Anatomy of Wings. However, I did crave seeing more home life, especially with the men who might have been and exist in their lives and perhaps a few more family members. The directors keep us invested in each individual’s life, not an easy task as there are ten women to get to know and empathize with. Just like these women and their successes in life, Hollander and Redmond overcome the obstacles and succeed in remarkable fashion.
Anatomy of Wings screened at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival.
"…must have been a Herculean project to edit..."