Coming Out of Left Field

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Penetrating portraits

The wife and I, as part of her birthday celebration (happy b-day, sweetie!), went to the MFA the other night to watch a film program. All three were portraits of women who'd worked for change:

-- "An Indomitable Woman", about Helen Suzman, who as a member of the South African parliament spoke out against apartheid

-- "Sister Rose's Passion", about Sister Rose Thering, who investigated anti-Semitism in Catholic textbooks (and continues to fight anti-Semitism)

-- "Poumy," about Andrée “Poumy” Moreuil, who as a young Jewish woman was part of the French resistance

We found all three films very informative, but most enjoyed "Sister Rose's Passion" and "Poumy", which gave a lot of insight into the individuals as well as the issues. Both Sister Rose and Poumy came across as smart, capable, independent, and funny. At one point, Poumy recalled how she was sent to deliver some information to an advance unit of the U.S. army. As she approached them, she could smell the coffee they had brewing, and told them she wouldn't say a word until she got a cup. As for Sister Rose, she related how she had been told it was OK to continue her research, but was instructed, "Don't hang dirty laundry." She added, in the same breath, "I hung it."

A grand-niece of Poumy said she found herself wondering if, put in the same situation, she would have been brave enough to risk her life as Poumy had. As we left the MFA, we wondered the same thing -- and hoped that we would.

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