Happy Viewing

February to me means it’s time to get ready for the Everett Women’s Film Festival. I’m a long time film fan, and in the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that I am a Festival volunteer. Many of my festival favorites have become part of the collection of the Everett Public Library, which means you can enjoy them whether you’re able to attend the event or not. I’ve selected just a few of my very favorite films to whet your appetite.

Seattle filmmaker Francine Strickwerda’s mother died from breast cancer when she was a child. Her family never discussed the subject, leaving her with a fear of these most obvious of female body parts. Busting Out, a film by turns funny and heartbreaking, explores America’s obsession with breasts as well as the grim reality of breast cancer, and is Strickwerda’s attempt to lay her personal demons to rest.

I’m not a sports fan, but Ward Serrill’s The Heart of the Game won my heart.  Serrill follows the Roosevelt High School girls’ basketball team, including their amazing coach Bill Resler as well as their star player Darnellia Russell, through six tumultuous seasons. Another great sports film for non-fans is A Hero for Daisy, which documents Olympic medalist Chris Ernst and her college rowing crew’s battle to force Yale University to provide equal facilities for female athletes. I would rate A Hero for Daisy as required viewing for young sports enthusiasts.

If you are a mother, or if you have a mother—and that’s all of us, right?—The Story of Mothers and Daughters is worth a look. Catherine Ryan and Gary Weimberg explore this often complicated relationship, minus the sentimentality that creeps into Mother’s Day cards. 

Death comes for us all, but most of us never imagine our lives ending with a home funeral. Elizabeth Westrate’s Family Undertaking introduces us to several families who decided to do it themselves, finding a meaning in death they believe is lost when we turn our loved ones over to the funeral industry. Despite its rather dire subject, this film is thought-provoking and heart-warming—and sometimes even funny.

I’ll leave you with one final recommendation, and it’s a film by Coline Serreau (yes, it has subtitles—but you won’t mind). Chaos, the funny, action-packed tale of an unhappy French wife who ends up the unlikely ally of a young prostitute seeking to escape the criminals who force her to work for them, received a standing ovation from festival attendees.


And We’re Off

EileenToday marks the inaugural post on “A Reading Life,” Everett Public Library’s venture into blogging about books as well as other library materials and topics. We’ve been working on this blog project for several months, and we’re all hoping that you’ll find our posts lively and well-written, and the books we write about worth adding to your need-to-read list.

Eventually we hope our blog will become a dialog between and among readers. You’ll be able to comment on our posts, and maybe even recommend books you’ve enjoyed. Right now we’re waiting for approval of our new social software policy before we turn on comments, so you’ll have some time to think about what you’re reading here before you can comment.

hardballIt wouldn’t seem right not to mention a few books to help launch this enterprise, so I’ll tell you what I’m reading. I just finished Sara Paretsky’s latest V. I. Warshawski mystery, Hardball. I’m a longtime fan of V. I., and she’s in good form here. Paretsky has written a fast-moving story that was difficult to put down.

It took me a little longer to finish Olen Steinhauer’s The Tourist, a touristconvoluted tale of espionage in the early 21st century, because it’s as much driven by character as plot—although there’s plenty of action, too. Steinhauer’s been compared to LeCarre and Deighton, and George Clooney has bought the movie rights.

spivetNow I’m reading something completely different, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen. I’m only a few pages into the story of T. S., a 12-year-old cartographic genius, so it’s too soon to know if I’ll like it, but I do love the drawings and maps that are an integral part of the text.

Stay tuned for more of “A Reading Life.”