I have seen several good films with women in the leads this summer. Wild Rose (which I blogged about earlier), Late Night (starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, the latter also wrote the screenplay), Downton Abbey (my opinion is it is all about the women, in the best way), and Hustlers (starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez) were all solid movies. But today I saw a film that made me cry. I checked what was playing at Nampa’s Reel Theater (our second run, which equals discount, theater) and saw a film titled Maiden.
Documentaries, which Maiden is, can be undependable. They cannot lean on great acting. They may not be able to count on great camera work, like this summer’s The Biggest Little Farm. Sometimes a director is lucky enough to stumble on a story that is so compelling and timely, with subjects so self-aware and articulate, that all he or she needs to do is get out of the way and let the story tell itself. That is what Alex Holmes did with Maiden, the story of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. Holmes uses still photos, interviews, and video footage from Edwards’ childhood and the late 1980s. But the soul of the film is the series of current interviews with the 1989 Maiden crew. These women’s memories and insights are crystal clear, and their story is at once unique, universal, and heart-warming. Rounding out the film are current interviews with members of competing crews and a few journalists who covered the 1989 race.
I never knew this story before today, and I am so glad I know it now. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in American, my church body, is celebrating 50 years of women’s ordination right now. I am thankful to the women and men who made that vocational option available to me. But I am equally as thankful to the women pioneers in every other sort of field, medicine, law, business, and yes yacht racing, who broke barriers. Collectively, they all make it easier for people to accept women doing all sorts of things never before imaginable. I am not so naive as to say that the journey is over, but for today this film gave me hope and encouragement.