In the past year we’ve followed our board member Elizabeth Hemmerdinger in her work as producer on the documentary ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME. The film opened in New York City last week after a gala celebration at the Paley Center. Anne de Mare, Hemmerdinger’s colleague on many projects, including The Real Rosie the Riveter Project, was at the premiere. Here’s her take. —ED
ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME opened to rave reviews last Friday night in New York City. It will now roll out to theaters in more than 30 cities around the country—which, for a documentary made by women about an 87-year-old woman, feels like nothing short of a well-deserved miracle.
Produced and directed by the talented Chiemi Karasawa, ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME is courageous, inspiring, and as supremely entertaining as Ms. Stritch herself. Here’s what the reviewers had to say: (Associated Press, Rex Reed/New York Observer, The New York Times, the Daily News, and The Wall Street Journal. I had seen several drafts of the film-in-progress and was fortunate enough to attend the special star-studded premiere at the Paley Center for Media last week, in support of my dear friend and colleague, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, who was also producer on the film. (Pictured: Alex Baldwin, George C. Wolfe, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, Chiemi Karasawa, and Cheryl Weisenfeld, with Elaine Stritch. — Ed)
In addition to the profound joy I felt in celebrating a good friend’s success, what was so moving to me was the chance to see an independent film about an independent woman celebrated and hailed as the extraordinary achievement that it is. It gave me faith that the paradigm is shifting, that the female narrative —independent of the male narrative—is finally being not only heard, but savored. As a documentarian, I know the sacredness of carving out space to hear untold stories. There is power in listening to the unheard.
Now, no one could accuse Elaine Stritch of being unheard—her voice rings out brash and strong in every single thing she does—but the candid way she talks about aging, about alcoholism, about fear, and about looking back at her extraordinary career reminds us how powerful it is to listen, particularly to our elder generations of women, and how often their stories aren’t heard. For me, personally, the evening was also about watching Elizabeth Hemmerdinger, a woman I have known and worked with for a quarter of a century, successfully reinvent herself as a talented producer and filmmaker dedicated to raising the voice of women—young and old. And it made me oh so excited that we are moving into our next project together, The Girl With The Rivet Gun, a documentary new media work (in collaboration with another long-time colleague, Kirsten Kelly) which celebrates the exceptional women who answered the call during the Second World War—the real-life Rosie the Riveters who took on what had traditionally been man’s work to build Roosevelt’s “arsenal of democracy.” Again, another project seeking to bring women’s unheard stories front and center.
We need more stories by women about women that do not pale from their importance to the collective story of our time.