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Silent Sorority

Film Insights from Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos

It’s always a thrill when an intelligent, articulate person comments positively on one’s work. In this case, the ‘work’ is our documentary. I met Pamela at the Napa Valley Film Festival last Fall. Pamela told me she was deeply moved by Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise. We are honored to share her Blog entry here. Pamela, thank you so much for letting your readers know about the film.

Insights often originate with films and books. The really good stories and characters become touchstones or stay with me like familiar old friends.

So, on this, my 11th anniversary of blogging (yes, Happy Anniversary dear readers, it all began here February 3, 2007), I’d like to encourage all to find and watch the soul-stirring documentary Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise.

Insights — from what shapes our identity and behaviors to what keeps women from asserting themselves — will rain down on you as you take in the stories and reactions that emerged following the debut of the 1991 film Thelma and Louise. (In hindsight I wish I’d had the good sense to bring a notebook to record them all.)

You will be touched and mesmerized by what the film reveals. I had the pleasure of meeting the filmmaker, Jennifer Townsend, following a film screening at the Napa Valley Film Festival last November.  The backstory on what led her to make the film may sound familiar:

“All I knew was that this film [Thelma and Louise] had affected me in a profound way. Even now I find that words do not fully capture this sensation. I had never seen a film where women exuded so much power. They had ‘slain the dragon’. They were forces to be reckoned with. Even in the face of death, they refused to surrender.”

The Thelma and Louise film in 1991 became the genesis for a research project. Townsend solicited reactions wherever she could. She reached far and wide for participation using an open-format questionnaire. Now, mind you, in 1991 there was no Internet — only newspaper ads, press releases, snail mail, landlines and answering machines. The response to her call for reactions was impressive and the insights rich.

It is worth noting that it was disconcerting to view Townsend’s film on the eve of the #MeToo movement. It’s painful to acknowledge that as far as we’ve come since 1991 women in 2018 still need a movement to call attention to harassment and abuse.

What made my viewing of Townsend’s film more riveting and special was that I saw it with my Thelma. Longtime readers (and those familiar with Silent Sororitythe book) will know that I’ve written about my friend Jane over the years. Like the characters in the film we have challenged and exasperated one another. We have also helped each other out of more than a few jams. We’ve laughed and cried and shared insights and helped each other grow.

If you have a Thelma or a Louise in your life, give them a call, arrange a screening and then, by all means share your thoughts. You’ll be blown away at the cultural pressure on women not to rock the boat. If you’re anything like the viewers who have mailed, taped (or in more recent years) emailed and commented on Townsend’s blog, you’ll join a rich community of voices.

[Note from Producer: Catching Sight is not yet available for rent or purchase, but will be in the coming months. Private screenings are considered on a case-by-case basis.]