Julie Taymor would like to clear up a misunderstanding about her new Gloria Steinem film, The Glorias, which has a pair of sold-out screenings coming up on the Vineyard.

“It’s not a biopic,” said the award-winning director, who will introduce The Glorias at Featherstone Center for the Arts in Oak Bluffs on August 18 — part of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society summer series — and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival’s drive-in at the YMCA August 22.

“It’s a road picture,” Ms. Taymor told the Gazette, by Zoom from her seasonal home in Chilmark Monday afternoon. “There are very few road pictures for women, and in the one that’s most famous, Thelma and Louise, they have to die.”

Nor does The Glorias spend time on peripheral characters such as Ms. Steinem’s early fiancé, or anyone else she might have dated before marrying at the age of 66, a milestone tenderly represented in film.

“It’s really Gloria’s life that I think was important,” said Ms. Taymor, who co-wrote the screenplay with playwright Sara Ruhl.

Based on Ms. Steinem’s memoir, My Life on the Road, the movie transcends the notion of a timeline as it carries viewers back and forth through key moments in the life of the author, activist and Ms. Magazine co-founder.

Ms. Taymor employs bits of magic to get at the heart of Gloria Steinem’s story. — Jeanna Shepard

“People think of Gloria as an icon, with the [hair] streaks and the glasses and Smith College,” Ms. Taymor said. “An icon is something that’s frozen, that’s dead. It’s not alive — it’s like those Confederate monuments.”

To fully represent the complexities of Ms. Steinem’s life and work, Ms. Taymor cast four actresses to play her at different ages. Ryan Kiera Armstrong plays the six-year-old sidekick to her hustler-dreamer dad, played by a twinkle-eyed Timothy Hutton opposite Enid Graham as her troubled mother in 1950s Ohio.

Lulu Wilson is the adolescent Gloria, and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander portrays her as a Smith College student and young adult, while Julianne Moore plays the iconic Ms. Steinem in her prime, culminating in the 2016 Women’s March on Washington, D.C.

At times, from two to all four Glorias are on screen together, riding a mysterious Greyhound coach that Ms. Taymor calls “the bus out of time.” It’s a bold, but compelling leitmotif that successfully links the film’s asynchronous events, and it’s not the only bit of magic the director employs to get at the heart of Ms. Steinem’s story.

The 1998 Tony Award-winning director of Broadway hit musical The Lion King, Ms. Taymor is known for imaginative storytelling techniques on both stage and screen. The Glorias has more than one moment of altered reality, one of the most delicious of which sweeps a sexist talk-show host — swivel chair and all — into a Wizard of Oz tornado with a biting subtext: “Bitch, witch,” Ms. Taymor said.

The historic persecution of women as witches, she continued, was rooted in male disapproval of independent women. “It was .  .  .  fear of the power of women who were alone, who had powers that men didn’t understand,” she said. The Glorias also highlights the trailblazing feminists Ms. Steinem collaborated with throughout her career, many of whom were women of color such as Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller, played by Kimberley Norris Guerrero, attorney Florynce Kennedy (Lorraine Toussaint), speaker Dorothy Pitman Hughes (Janelle Monáe) and union activist Dolores Huerta (Monica Sanchez).

Women of color continue to press for political change today, Ms. Taymor said.

“If you look at our election right now, it’s black women that take us forward as leaders and thinkers,” she said.

While the film has an R rating due to the brief depiction of a cartoon from Screw magazine, Ms. Taymor says that The Glorias is appropriate for young viewers, and not only females.

“There’s nothing that isn’t for 10-year-old boys and girls,” she said.

“Men like this movie as much as women,” Ms. Taymor added. “When we opened at Sundance, we had 1,000 people at our premiere .  .  .  all kinds of people.”

Ms. Taymor’s Vineyard connection began with her parents, doctor Melvin Taylor and Democratic activist and college professor Betty Taymor, author of the book Running Against the Wind: The Struggle of Women in Massachusetts Politics.

“I grew up outside of Boston and we came here every single year since I was born,” Ms. Taymor said. The family rented countless houses up-Island before she and her partner, The Glorias composer Elliot Goldenthal, built their Chilmark home.

Ms. Taymor’s new film is dedicated to her mother, who gave her daughter early lessons in political action.

“I would canvas with her when she ran for state representative, when I was 15,” she recalled. “Gloria knows my mother and highly respects her.”

Speaking the day before Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate, Ms. Taymor had one prediction for the expected male-female ticket: “We’re going to watch women get torn down to shreds again.”