An Abbotsford audience had the chance to view and discuss Women Talking, the film that has generated buzz in both Mennonite and Hollywood circles.
The movie had not been shown in the local theatre, but Aaron Dawson, president and founder of the Abbotsford Film Society, arranged a screening at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in April. It proved so popular that a second screening was added, with discussion between the two viewings.
A panel consisting of Dawson, along with Janet Boldt, professor emeritus at Columbia Bible College, and Elsie Goertzen, program coordinator of the End Abuse program at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) B.C., gave their perspectives on the issues raised in the film based on sexual abuse in a conservative Mennonite colony. They also answered audience questions relating to the film and its relevance to society and the church.
Dawson talked about storytelling and film, saying, “It’s important to note that [Women Talking] is a fictionalized tale inspired by true events.” He also explained the difference between a documentary, a drama and a docu-drama.
Boldt talked about faith and forgiveness, saying forgiveness must involve remorse, restitution and renewal. “Forgiveness is a process that cannot be forced,” she said. “Forgiveness leads to change.”
Goertzen talked about the End Abuse program at MCC and noted there is no difference between the general population and Christian families in incidences of abuse. “Abuse happens when a perpetrator sees an opportunity,” she said. “There is never a ‘best response’ to the question to stay or go—it’s hard. Women have their own wisdom.”
Dawson, who grew up at Emmanuel Mennonite Church, chose to show the film because of its relevance to the Mennonite community and because it won an Oscar. He says he founded the film society to “think critically” about the types of films people consume. “It’s important to dig a little deeper about what a film is presenting,” he says.
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