I remember the folk song Odetta sang:  Love Oh Love Oh Careless Love.  There are a number of versions but the lyric I like includes the line: I used to wear my apron low…Now my apron strings don’t tie.

I thought of the song when I watched Sarah Polley’s film, Stories We Tell. This documentary unfolds the family secret that the film maker is the daughter of her mother’s lover.  It was not Sarah’s search for the biological father that moved me.  It was the vivacious young wife, Dianne who touched my heart.  Her husband appears to be rather heroic. He states in the film that he would have happily raised Sarah whether or not he fathered her. But what kind of man casually says that it’s okay if his wife had an affair. To me his tolerance is repugnant.  Why wouldn’t he feel even a little anger? If he had known what was happening in another man’s bedroom, would he have fought for Dianne?

Fascinated by Polley’s focus on infidelity, I watched an earlier movie she directed, Take This Waltz. This comedy-drama, tells the story of Margot, a young woman also unsatisfied in her marriage.  She seeks a more passionate lover, an artist called Daniel.  The marriage ends.  Again, the husband, Lou, is not distraught.  He responds with philosophical sadness.

Odetta’s folk song kept running through my head. You can see what careless love has done to me. Dianne becomes pregnant with another man’s baby and keeps the secret and shame.  At the end of the second movie, Margot appears to be regretful that her marriage ended. Both women suffer for what seem to be rash actions. After I watched these movies, I asked myself who are the careless lovers?    In my mind, it is the husbands. In both films passionate wives are left to their own devices by inattentive husbands. What a pity to be loved in such a cavalier and careless fashion.

This Easter season has been difficult.  My husband died and between the trips to the nursing home and the funeral parlour, I felt exhausted and discombobulated.  In the long and lonely evenings I treated myself to Woody Allen, The Documentary.  I was strangely comforted by his attitude towards the great mysteries of life and death.  Woody admits in the film that he would like to have been a gifted tragedian.  Therefore, he asks the great questions.  Is there a God?  Why is there so much suffering in our world?  Always the comic, he takes the clowns approach. About the question of God the interviewer asks, “Can’t you take the leap of faith?”

“I can’t even take the leap of faith about myself,” says Woody.

Personally, I have always appreciated his attitude to death. 

“I’m not afraid of death.  I just don’t want to be there when it happens,” he says.

A reporter asked if his relationship with death remained the same.

“I’m strongly against it,” he said.

So am I Woody.  Cheers.

Two students from the Writer’s Studio SFU have directed and produced documentaries.  Mary Fowles has created a fascinating film Taxi Casablanca about the first woman taxi driver in Morocco and her struggle to make a living.  Mary gives us a clear picture of the plight of some women in other cultures. The most poignant moment is when a young male passenger tells the driver about his modest wife.  She never meets his eyes when she talks to him.  The scenic shots give a real feel for the place.

Stolen Memories

Stolen Memories

Last night I saw Stolen Memories, a film by Kagan Goh.  It’s a bit of a detective story.  Kagan spends twelve years trying to find the owners of a Japanese family’s album he found at a garage sale.  The tale is not only about stolen memoires but about stolen people. The audience must grapple with the shameful part of Canadian history when productive Canadians citizens of Japanese descent were forcibly removed from their homes during World War Two.  Some of them had only forty-eight hours to pack.  Families and whole communities were separated.

Hurrah for our students at The Writer’s Studio who have made a unique contribution to social justice issues here and abroad.

Life, Above All

Life, Above All

I nearly wept when I saw the movie, Life, Above All.  Though filmed in South Africa, the scenes reminded me of my trip to Zambia in 2003. I remember the red soil, a graveyard for the rich and the unadorned burial place for the poor. Open holes waited for more caskets.  Above all, I remember the Racecourse School on the edge of Kitwe.  When I saw it, the classes were housed in an empty tavern.  Small windows let in little light.  We had been asked beforehand to bring pencils as gifts for the children – their resources were so few.  Parents volunteered as teachers.

Before writing this entry, I checked the internet to see if the school was still operational. I discovered that the church I used to attend in Edmonton, Alberta began a fund raising program in 2004.  A new building has been erected and 19 teachers receive a small monthly allowance. Two other United Churches have been closely involved in a partnership with the school, as well as some families and benefactors.

The movie that began my musings is about the tragedy of HIV/AIDS.  Khomotso Manyaka brilliantly plays the part of Chanda, the young girl whose mother has the disease.   The movie raises many questions: the role of women, the tragedy of poverty and unemployment.  Hope in the film and in real life lies in the ability of communities both local and abroad to rally around the vulnerable.