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The Talk: Gloria Steinem & Julie Taymor
by Karen Pecota

The Canada Goose Basecamp, located on Main Street in Park City, is another place where people can go to escape the cold during the film festival. Canada Goose is known as the unofficial jacket of film crews everywhere. Aside from the public being able to enjoy daily innovative programming at Basecamp those who come into the building are invited to try on the brand's iconic parkas, as well as, learn about their history being in front of and behind the camera. One can also order hot beverages and stay connected with complimentary Wi-Fi and power charging stations. The rustic building with a gallery-type decor is ideal to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere.

I happened to have had the privilege of attending a talk at the Canada Goose Basecamp venue with journalist, feminist and activist Gloria Steinem and filmmaker Julie Taymor sponsored by The Atlantic (media partner for the second year at the festival). Shirley Li, staff writer for The Atlantic, led the conversation with the two female guests talking about Taymor's film The Glorias based on Steinem's autobiography, "My Life on the Road.”

The setting for this event was ideal for this talk because of its intimacy, allowing only 35-40 guests entrance. Men and women of all ages were in attendance. Li asked several questions about the filming process that included asking the reasons Taymor wanted to tell Steinem's story. Taymor notes that the many fascinating layers to Steinem's story is noteworthy, and she felt it was high time to honor her journey in a different form. Gloria could not have been more pleased with Taymor's creativity revealing the different layers of her life adventure. Steinem likened it to a stacking Russian doll--when taken apart there are different sizes that have been nestled into the whole doll. In her life each size of the doll represents a different part of her world that effected or influenced the other.

Taymor also wanted to document history as a feature narrative film to endear both male and female audiences. Taymor said, "My mother is 98 years old and has screened this film at least three times. She is most proud of this project of mine, out of all the other work that I have done thus far, because this is her era. She lived through this period of time and knows it well." Adding, "I believe that she feels that I got it right...I told Gloria's story with accuracy."

Gloria added, "I had never been on a movie set and was astounded how authentic they produced the settings and scenes that represented my life experiences."

Other topics discussed with joy and sensitivity were: funding for the film/distribution, the target audience, the impact of the women's March in 2016, Gloria's travels as a young girl and the impact it had on her career choices and situations (some rather uncomfortable).

Gloria shares that no matter what would come her way she gleaned the optimism that came from her dad who always said, "You don't know what is going to happen tomorrow, it could be wonderful."

Steinem's interesting childhood is the reason she became a writer, journalist, activist and an organizer for women's rights on the global stage. Taymor often reacts inwardly to Steinem being introduced as an icon because the image that comes forth in her mind is something stationary like a statue of wood or stone; and, she thinks, "No, that's not Gloria. Gloria is the most living human being. My hope is that The Glorias bring forth her humanity."

Steinem's humanity was witnessed first-hand by all who attended this talk at the very end of session during the Q & A with Gloria. The very last question was asked by a young college student who nervously stood and looked Gloria in the eye and spoke as if only those two were in the room. In all sincerity the guest asked what advice would Gloria give to her as she is now starting to live out her adulthood ...not famous...not necessarily unique or special...not particularly confident or bold but desires to be a person of influence in society. As she tried to clarify her question, tears rolled down her cheeks. Gloria listened to her words but zeroed-in to what her heart was saying. It was a very tender moment. Everyone in the room was still and silent. The words that flowed so naturally out of Gloria's mouth, to this young lady, were of love, confidence and encouragement. Her basic message was, “that if she is true to herself and her idealisms she will be of influence to many without noticing.” Gloria advised her not to get caught up in worrying about it because that’s a waste of energy. And, that only time will reveal her impact. Gloria closed by suggesting she let that give her rest to live with confidence.

Li slowly stepped to the mic and thanked the two for their time of sharing a very rich conversation, Taymor shared one last thing for us to watch for in the film.  Taymor wanted to honor those who worked on the film so on the very last day of filming she told all of the crew to get on the bus they used in filming the main transitional scenes. She concluded, "Just so you know, all those people in that scene aside from the four main actresses were all a part of the film crew. Look for them."  Release date is September 25, 2020.