Monday, December 31, 2012

[Online] The Painted Ladies

Shown at Sinema Old School in May, producer Brenda Er had made this documentary available online at vimeo so that those who had missed out, can have an avenue to view her film. After all, this was made with the intention to educate, reach out, and hopefully inspire women who had suffered some form of abuse, to stand up and speak out. And even more of a challenge, is to forgive those who had done them wrong.

And it's not easy, which Brenda herself had admitted in a Facebook post that she too had recently, near the time of release of the film, turned forgiver. Given the circumstances in timing, she had opted to become the fifth subject in the documentary, turning the spotlight instead on the four other women who had boldly come forward to make their stories, confessions, frustrations and hope, heard for anyone willing to give them their time of the day.

With the Painted Lady butterfly as a very apt motif, opening the film - aside from the bookending scenes involving endless roads on the expressway to perhaps signify the long, continuous journey called Life - with the metamorphosis of a caterpillar larva into a butterfly, obviously in line with the subject each of the interviewees will be sharing on their deep hurt, their personal life changing experiences, and the aftermath of taking affirmative action. The four women were deliberately selected from different ethnic groups to perhaps demonstrate that these issues can happen to just about anyone, and how one's response in doing what's right, may meet with challenges even from the closest of loved ones.

In some ways this documentary is similar to Women Who Love Women, or even Pink Paddlers, with female directors dealing with subjects focused on addressing women related issues, and using film as a medium for instruction, inspiration, or sharing. Having to listen to what the subjects had gone through, from sexual abuse when young, to abandonment, single parenthood and engaging in various vices in vicious circles, it's inspiring to listen to how they'd decide to take life by the horns, and turn theirs around for the better despite the odds that society has leveled on them.

Technically there isn't anything fancy in the delivery of this documentary, preferring the very perfunctory approach so as not to distract attention away from the content. It's static camera and talking heads styled interviews, with editing that weaves the narrative through each interviewee in round robin fashion to keep the discussion grouped into themes of Forgiveness, Love and Worthiness, rather than taking the easier way, and probably more boring fashion, of presenting each interviewee's story one after another.

For those interested, you can view the entire documentary, made available by Producer Brenda Er on Vimeo:

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