His topic, "The Beauty of the Real: Great Roles for Women," focused on the history of the declining number of great roles in film for American actresses since women entered the workplace in the 1960's, and the phenomenom of what is currently happening in French cinema. France has at least two dozen top-tier actresses starring in films about women's stories; some of these actresses are making two or three films a year. The United States hasn't seen since this kind of phenomenon since the 1930's, when all of the reigning box office stars were women. His new book, "The Beauty of the Real," due out in the fall of 2011, explores this marvelous explosion of vital roles for women in France and why American actresses' vehicles to great roles have been marginalized.
During this workshop we watched several clips from French movies, where Mick provided us with glimpses of some of these cream of the crop actresses; some of the clips we viewed were from films not available in the United States. Since many of the great foreign films never make their way to the U.S. (and theatres here only receive a random sampling of above-average foreign films each year), he suggested purchasing a region-free DVD player and ordering films from overseas to expose ourselves to some of these compelling women's stories, set in a different cultural milieu.
Little did I realize that this informative discussion would set the tone for a documentary I watched later that day, The Legend of Pancho Barnes and the Happy Bottom Riding Club. If you've never heard of the legendary female aviator, Pancho Barnes, now you have. I myself wasn't familiar with Pancho, or her vital role in American history. She was Hollywood's first female stunt pilot in the 1920's, eventually opening a ranch near Edwards Airforce base, "The Happy Bottom Riding Club," that became a notorious hangout for test pilots and movie stars. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier there in 1947 (with three broken ribs, taped up by a veterinarian no less). Pancho married four times during her lifetime, saw a fortune lost, and remained a tough-talking, fearless pilot and cantankerous woman. One of the most important women in aviation, Pancho created her own vital roles throughout her life.
Day 3 highlights: clear blue skies; informative discussion by leading expert; discovering little-known legendary American woman; feeling empowered as a SLO female blogger