51Fest Continues to Night Three, Including BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, AFTER THE WEDDING, and More
51Fest, a partnership between Women in the World and IFC Center, continued its inaugural festival last night with screenings and discussions about women's stories. Saturday got to a rowdy start with the exciting documentary Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins, where director Janice Engel led the crowd in a rousing chant to get them into the Ivins' spirit. The film, which tells the incredible life of powerhouse Texas journalist Molly Ivins, who famously told the stories plaguing America with humor, passion, and grit, was followed by a conversation with director Janice Engel and actor Kathleen Turner, moderated by New York Times reporter Rachel Dry.
Engel told the audience that Molly's passion would be almost more revered today stating, "So much of what Molly said 15, 20 years ago is happening right now. She is so prescient but she also was this incredible scholar of history. She knew that history is cyclical, and so she knew what she was writing about it would repeat itself. But the cycles are happening faster and the gaps smaller. I would say that today Molly is probably more relevant now than when she was alive...She would agree that the s is that much worse and what she says is a call to action. The overriding action is it is up to us, as Jim Hightower said it, 'it's we the people, people.'"
Following the New York premiere of Brittany Runs a Marathon was a post-screening conversation with real-life subject Brittany O'Neill and Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's "Ask Me Another". In conversation, Brittany O'Neil talked about her experiences, how accurate the film is, and seeing them come to film. O'Neil stated, "Obviously I connect with this story a great deal, because the emotional journey is dead on [to what she went through]. But Paul created a story to create a nice full experience for a movie, so there's a lot of scenes, characters, and situations that are not accurate to real life, but the emotional journey and the [message] of wanting more for yourself, and failing a lot and still trying is definitely dead on. And Gilian, we didn't meet until the end of filming, because it wasn't necessary that she meet me for her portrayal...I think that she was incredible and really captured what I went through."
The evening continued with a screening of Official Secrets. The film, starring Keira Knightley, is about whistleblower Katharine Gun, who leaked classified information of illegal activity by the United States to push for the invasion of Iraq, and the fallout, which left her charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act. Following the screening was a conversation with the real-life subject Katharine Gun, who was met with a standing ovation by the audience, and DEMOCRACY NOW! Host Amy Goodman, moderated by Huffpost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen. Katharine spoke about experience as a whistleblower and the disproportionate treatment that she has seen others, like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Reality Winner, receive.
Rounding out the evening was a screening of After the Wedding, a drama of secrets and connections starring Michelle Williams and Julianne Moore, a remake of the 2006 Academy Award nominated Danish film of the same name. Moore joined Tina Brown in a conversation following the screening where they discussed working with family - Moore's husband directed the film ("It's wonderful to have a collaboration like that, although not so easy when your teenage daughter is also a PA"), Time's Up, ageism and sexism in Hollywood, and whether things are really changing for women. On the topic of roles for women, Moore said "I don't want to play a 'powerful' woman. I'm just not interested. I want to play people who are human." When asked which of the current Democratic candidates Moore would want to play, she quickly answered, "Elizabeth Warren."
This was the third night of 51Fest, a partnership between Women in the World and IFC Center. 51Fest is a festival celebrating THE VOICE and vision of the female majority through screenings and conversations, all by or about women. The result is compelling and original entertainment for everyone. Women make up more than half of our population, and 51Fest puts women where they belong: at the center of the story.