Magazine article Tikkun

Intimate Struggles, Global Politics

Magazine article Tikkun

Intimate Struggles, Global Politics

Article excerpt




Lilly Rivlin Productions, 2010

Review by Elizabeth Rosner

Viewers of Lilly Rivlin's inspiring film Grace Paley: Collected Shorts are in for much more than a portrait of the artist. Whether you are being introduced for the first time or being given the chance to become reacquainted with a much-beloved writer, this richly quilted narrative offers multiple views of a woman extraordinary and exemplary in her authenticity. Grace Paley is vastly more than a sum of her parts: poet, mother, teacher, and activist.

Rivlin's documentary effectively breaks down Paley's life and work into segments, with quotations from the author as well as from her many friends (including luminaries like Alice Walker), and her husband, daughter, and granddaughter. Yet the net effect is to see how the different areas of Paley's life joined in a vivid and unified whole. For her, clearly, there was no contradiction between feminism and marriage, between a life devoted to protest and one devoted to family. Even as Paley worked introspectively to write about her most intimate struggles, she also showed dedicated support of women's rights on a global scale. In the film, images of her participation in numerous demonstrations are seamlessly interwoven with clips of her reading aloud from her beautifully crafted and unforgettable stories.

Grace Paley's fearless conviction invites me as a writer to remember the power of words to make a difference in the world. For her, storytelling was truly a worthwhile endeavor; art and activism could be, without any doubt, mutually inclusive. She explains that through writing purely in the voice of her 'Aunt Rose," she found her own voice; eventually the stories of women and their difficult lives "pressured" her to give them "the open destiny" of life on the page. …

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