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Women In Focus

An Unreasonable Woman

A historical short film about adventurous accordionist Shirley Deane who traveled to more than 60 countries during the '50s and '60s, breaking gender boundaries of the time.

Deane began her career as a popular accordionist in New York City, performing in many big band/jazz shows that were popular at the time. "I made alot of noise," Deane said. She got fed up of her parents' expectations of marrying and keeping house. "I was never conscious of what gender should be," she said.  

Shirley forwent a large record contract and decided to tour Europe and Africa with her band from 1957-1961. After traveling much of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East on tour, Deane decided she was tired of traveling by plane, boat, and train while fighting off marriage proposals from well-to-do suitors. She decided to get a Land Rover and was the first woman to drive alone from London to Kathmandu. Once in East Asia, Shirley joined an ashram in the Himalayas and learned to meditate. In 1964, Deane ran a Tibetan refugee clinic and then moved to South Africa, where during the height of apartheid, she published the first "Who's Who Of Black South Africans." Shirley remained in South Africa for fifteen years after which she returned to the United States and wrote her memoir, "An Unreasonable Woman: In Search of Meaning Around The Globe."

Directed by Cameron Bargerstock.

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