I decided at the end of the U3A year to retire from facilitating the Old Women in Films Group. I found that my energy diminished in sympathy with the attendance.
In the meantime Ealing Oldies Network (EON see June’s blog ) asked me to run occasional film sessions. 15 women and 3 men attended the second film show.
Once again the technology was perfect, and the projector and screen were ready on time.
I had a great feeling of freedom. No longer did I have to worry about the membership or the attendance . I was asked to show a film and chair a discussion. There was implied trust that I would show films worth seeing and nobody objected to my usual decision of not declaring the title in advance.
I chose Bertuccelli’s “ Since Otar Left “(2003).
It needed some background introduction about Georgia and France and about the director. But as is my practice I avoided to make any comment on the content of the film but asked the audience to take note of all aspects the film.
I am always delighted to note how eager people are when invited to share their thoughts and feelings about a film. So different from the usual Questions and Answers of some events. Nearly all the aspects of the film were commented on.
The way the music was used.
The way the red colour was used in moments of strong emotions.
The imaginary presence of the main male character in a women’s household.
The range of men’s roles but the focus not on them: the young man with no future, the son gone away, the long suffering partner.
The way the lies of Stalinism go all through the film.
The way the relationships between the three generations of women were conveyed in the first minutes of the film in the cake scene.
How the tensions between the three women were true to life.
The shocking scene of the young daughter confronting her mother in the dasha scene.
I usually expand, explain or reveal some features. A couple of women commented that the grandmother did not react emotionally to the news of the death of her son.
“Surely she had processed the death of Otar beforehand as she did not seem surprised, she must have had doubts at some level”. I pointed out how the cinematography in this case expressed more about her distress than the overacting of usual melodramas.
An interesting example of interpretation differences occurred over the “resilience of grandma when her granddaughter decided to stay in Paris”. Some interpreted it as suggesting that the grandmother was pleased that her son would be replaced. My interpretation would differ. I would have said that she saw in her grand-daughter the continuity of her own love for Paris.
Obviously in a case of this sort, both interpretations are valid as they do not contradict the story or the characters.