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Talking to Wise Women: Advice and Inspiration for Young Women Today

2005
Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Anna Karin Majer
Directed by Anna Karin Majer
DVD, color, 90 min.
Jr. High - Sr. High
Adolescence, Careers, Education, Parenting, Women's Studies


Reviewed by Betty Glass, Associate Professor, University of Nevada, Reno

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 6/22/2006

Life isn’t meant to be a spectator sport. For best results, everyone’s life should be consciously planned and responsibly pursued rather than passively experienced as a haphazard series of unexpected situations. Between family and peer pressure, however, teen-aged girls are sometimes overwhelmed by decisions that can have long lasting effects on their lives.

Eight teenagers, ranging in age from 14 to 19, take turns posing questions about challenging situations they’re currently facing or questions about major decisions that will shape their lives after high school. The girls represent a variety of family situations, from stable two-parent homes to residing with a divorced parent. One of the girls is married with two children. One is a cheerleader facing the consequences of a DUI arrest.

Vol. I is themed “Education and Career.” Among the questions asked are: How can I make good life choices? Is race a factor in having a successful life? How can I pursue my dream career when my parents don’t think it’s practical?

Vol. II is themed “Love, Sex and Relationships.” Its topics include making responsible decisions about sexual behavior, the socio-economic realities of teenaged pregnancy and motherhood, and “What characteristics should I look for before entering into a relationship with someone?”

Vol. III is themed “Real Life Issues.” The girls pose questions about peer pressure over illegal drugs, becoming sexually active, and under-age drinking; feeling like an outcast; drinking and driving; suicide; and making sense of the variety of religious traditions in the world.

The nine “wise women” range in age from 39 to 83. One to four of them respond to each question, drawing upon their life and work experiences. Several of them are parents, and at least one is divorced. The woman who responds to the question about suicide recounts the “perfect storm” of events that led to the suicide of her teen-aged stepson. One of the women responding to the question about teen pregnancy was a teenage mom and divorcee.

The women provide balanced, practical responses to the questions. Recurring themes are the importance of family and friends, self-esteem, building positive relationship skills, being true to yourself, and developing self-reliance – both emotionally and financially. The girls are encouraged to get to know themselves better. When they can articulate their own values and interests, they’ll be in a better position to make decisions that can bring about a life that is rewarding and satisfying – based on their own definition of success.

Both the women and the teenagers seem natural and authentic. They use forthright language. While each person introduces herself at the beginning of each DVD, it would have been helpful if a caption with their name had been superimposed when each one was asking or responding to a question.

Both the audio and video quality are fine. A teacher’s guide [not seen by the reviewer] is available for each volume.

Teachers will be most interested in the 3-Episode Set version of this documentary, because the 30-minute per DVD format is convenient for curriculum planning. However, a feature length, 80-minute version is also available. Both middle school and high school libraries should consider this documentary. While all of the girls in the film are in high school, middle school girls are facing the same peer pressures. No graphic language is used, but high risk behaviors and their consequences are discussed realistically.

Awards

  • Telly Award 2005, Educational Documentary
  • Davey Award 2005, Educational Documentary