Do women tell a true story? +2023

WOMEN TALKING, from left: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod, Jessie Buckley, 2022. Ph: Michael Gibson / Orion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Content Warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual harassment and assault.

Critics have raved about the Oscar potential of the film “Women Talking” since its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in September. The film, based on Miriam Toews’ novel of the same name, follows a group of eight Mennonite women who have 48 hours to decide their future. They recently discovered that men in their community have been secretly drugging and raping women for years. The perpetrators have been arrested, but the women must decide whether to stay in the community that allowed them to be harmed or leave everything they know.

Sarah Polley directed and wrote the screenplay, and the cast includes Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw and Frances McDormand. Here’s what we know about the inspiration for the film.

The inspiration behind “Women Talking”

Although “Women Talking” is not a true story, actual events that occurred in Bolivia in 2009 inspired “Women Talking”. According to a 2011 time A woman in a closed Mennonite colony in Bolivia reportedly woke up in the middle of a sexual assault. What eventually emerged was the revelation that between 130 and 151 women and young girls in the colony had been routinely drugged with cattle and assaulted in their beds. For years they had awoken to inexplicable pain, lethargy, or sometimes signs of the attacks, but shame, confusion, amnesia, and the society’s deeply religious and patriarchal roots delayed the realization that the attacks were not one-off events. After the women began telling stories, they found the strength to speak out and eventually eight men were charged with various crimes.

In a 2019 interview, Toews said NPR“Even at the trial, the actual trial against these rapists, the women were not allowed to testify themselves. men have done it. And of course there is no redress for them when things like this happen, even if these kinds of rapes don’t still happen — although rumor has it they do happen — the number of incidents of male sexual violence is … in these closed colonies so high and it doesn’t take long much to see why.”

“Women Talking” focuses on a fictional series of meetings held by the women after the men are arrested for their crimes. Toews has said in several interviews that it was important to her to focus on the aftermath rather than the violence. she said NPR“When I heard what happened in the Manitoba colony in Bolivia, I was horrified like everyone else. But I also had all these questions, questions that I’ve had all my life, being born and raised and raised in a conservative Mennonite community. And I wanted these women to ask each other these questions and have this conversation.”

Is “Women Talking” an accurate account of life in a Mennonite colony?

Toews grew up in a conservative but not fully closed Mennonite colony in Canada, which she left when she turned 18 said NPR“It’s similar in that the rules are very similar. Certainly the misogyny within the culture, the culture of control, discipline, blame and so on. But some details were very different. […] In these closed colonies – for example the one at the center of the book – I think the women are in a sense prisoners. They do not speak the language of the country they are in, they do not read or write, they do not leave the colony unaccompanied by a man.”

Toews also used her experience in a Mennonite colony to capture the heart of the story: how women speak. 2018 has them said The Guardian“I’ve spent a lot of time with Mennonite women, and there’s a certain natural, innate ability to tell stories. Not to the point where they are disobedient. They know their roles and they play them. But when they do get together, there’s lots of laughter and their own brand of coded, rebellious exchanges. I wanted to put that in the book.”

Are the characters in “Women Talking” based on real people?

The characters in Women Talking do not have one-to-one counterparts in real life. toes said The Guardian“My goal is always to tell a story and create characters that move the reader. But of course I’m a feminist. I have to question the status quo I’ve experienced.”

In the same interview, Toews also spoke about August, the outcast male character who comes to the women’s meetings as a secretary and keeps the minutes that form the novel’s structure. “August is inspired by my own father, especially his gentleness. My father was also a teacher. [To others], there was always something suspicious about him. He was considered effeminate or emasculated. The options for men are so limited too.”

“Women Talking” is now showing in select cinemas.

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