I concluded the Pendance Festival with two films that explore the female experience.
Sandro is clearly smirking in the distance and shaking his head at me.
Girly stuff, he would have said.
And what of it, when it is well crafted and heartfelt?
The Short History of the Long Road was screened in the presence of director Ani Simon-Kennedy and cinematographer Cailin Yatsko. The audience was quite delighted by the road movie’s delicious visuals. For anyone who has taken road trips, and especially traveled as a solo nomad, the world of teenager Nola would feel authentic. Wash up in gas station bathrooms. Find “nutrition” at a 7-11. Sleep either at a cheap motel or in the car on the side of the road. Simon-Kennedy didn’t want to over-glamorize life on the road. Trekking through New Mexico is not all pink sunsets and pretty desert scenery.
Young Nola comes to a suitably metaphoric fork in the road, and must think about choices. Would she keep going or take a breather to experience what most non-nomadic people take for granted? School, social life, even a clean bed are things Nola’s upbringing didn’t offer her. And then, one fateful day, everything changed.
On a totally different spectrum of the female perspective, Saint Frances is a touching, and mostly lighthearted look into the encounters of a 34-year old nanny stuck between the Millennials and the Gen-Xers. Being on the cusp, Bridget should already have her sh!t together. But alas, she’s kind of a mess. Leave it to 6-year old Frances to enlighten her. The precocious, somewhat bratty but adorable tyke already knows a lot thanks to her interracial power-couple mommies.
Bridget is portrayed by the film’s writer, Kelly O’Sullivan. Together with director Alex Thompson, she has opened dialogue about things like lesbian marriage, racism, breast feeding in public, postpartum depression, and the ever dreaded “monthly friend”, sometimes known as Menses Madness. Menstruation. Period. Bloody Nuisance. That thing that most men can’t even say. But men should see this and try to understand why women do and say the things they do. As for female viewers, take heed my Kleenex Advisory, even if you’re not feeling hormonal while watching the film.
O’Sullivan is encouraging women to express themselves – whether positively or negatively – even from a young age. Saint Frances seeks to normalize the female experience – even when it’s bloody.