Women Over 40 Rock! is on the move

We’ve changed our web address, but not our message. Still dedicated to celebrating the power and the beauty of women over 40, we are now located at:

http://www.inthetrenchesproductions.com/blog

Here you will be able to read all our new articles, as well as access all previous postings.

Be sure to Bookmark the new address for future reference, and sign up for our RSS Feed!

You can also find us by visiting InTheTrenchesProductions.com and clicking “Blog.” While at the website, take some time to watch our films and trailers, and participate in our forum.

As stated in a previous post, “Our Time Is Now”... don’t miss out on all the excitement!

Women Over 40 Rock!
In The Trenches Productions

Note: This is the final post on our old address. All new articles will appear at the new site. Hope to see you there!

Posted by Mandy Crest, Blogger for In The Trenches Productions, The First Entertainment Website for Women over 40!

Published in: on March 30, 2008 at 3:13 pm  Comments (1)  
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Sandra Oh Supports SWAN Day Saturday March 29th

What on earth is SWAN day you might ask? Is it the day we pay tribute to really long necks or is it the day we pay homage to our beautiful feathered bird friends? Nope that is not it, even though long necks and swans definitely deserve our respect and praise.

No SWAN day is SUPPORT WOMEN ARTISTS NOW day! And this coming Saturday March 29th is the first Annual International SWAN Day!

We all need to support this new international holiday that celebrates women artists. As a symbol of international solidarity, over 100 SWAN Day events have been scheduled around the world. Even Sandra Oh is getting into the act with her inspiring SWAN Day Story

By focusing attention on the work of women artists, SWAN Day will help people imagine what the world might be like if women’s art and perspectives were fully integrated into all of our lives. The public is invited to attend SWAN Day events and to make donations to their favorite women artists. The long term goal of SWAN Day is to inspire communities around the world to find new ways to recognize and support women artists as a basic element of civic planning.

SWAN Day is a grassroots effort that is being coordinated by The Fund for Women Artists . Hats off to this wonderful organization and it’s founder Martha Richards. Everyone on the planet is invited to help create this new holiday!

And guess what! You don’t have to travel outside your city or even leave the comfort of your home to support SWAN Day. Just open up your laptop or start your computer and go to IN THE TRENCHES PRODUCTIONS (how’s that for good directions) and you will see the first entertainment website for women over 40. Check out films written, created, developed, produced, co-directed and edited by the 4 (over 40) women of In the Trenches Productions. They use their talent and creativity as filmmakers to create high quality short films that will resonate with women over 40 as well as entertain and inspire. They also use their acting artistry and sometimes star in the films. So support them and all the artists involved with their films and visit The In the Trenches Productions Entertainment Web Site to watch such fims as “Believe It Baby”, “The Forgotten Grave”, “Transitions”, A Host of Trouble”, and “Living Large with Less” as just one of your Swan Day Events.

For more information on Supporting Women Artists Now check out THE FUND FOR WOMEN ARTISTS and SWAN Day.

Lets make Saturday March 29th 2008 a turning point for Women Artists!

Debbie Zipp, blogger and shameless promoter for In the Trenches Productions
The First Entertainment Site for Women Over 40

PJ PARTIES FOR WOMEN OVER 40

Here’s a nifty way to plan a fun get together with your women friends and re-live the pajama parties from your youth. I heard about this kind of party from a young woman I recently met. Every other month, she and her friends gather for an all day /overnight event. They cook up scrumptious dishes, drink great wine, gossip and watch films. A spin on this is to create your own DVD women’s film festival. The film line-up could be Best Actress Oscar winning performances, or an all female comedy night or a collection of films either written or directed by women. Plan the meals around the films. So, while serving up fantastic Italian dishes you could check out the wonderful divas of Italian cinema. I am planning my first PJ party/DVD women’s festival around my favorite Indian women film makers. For food, I’ll be whipping up a curried chicken salad. Ina Garten has a tasty recipe: Google – Ina Garten’s curried chicken salad. The films on my menu are: Mira Nair’s MONSOON WEDDING; Gurinder Chadha’s BRIDE AND PREJUDICE; and, Deepa Mehta’s WATER. These films will not disappoint and even a second viewing is a treat. I tell you a little about them since you may want to check them out.

MONSOON WEDDING is exquisitely shot and tells the story of an arranged marriage taking place in a well to do Delhi family. On the Mira Nair’s website, Mira Bai Films , the film is described as “….a love song to both old and new Delhi. It is also an exploration and celebration of Punjabi culture. Five interweaving stories are told in the four days and nights leading up to an elaborate upper-class wedding. Each story navigates different aspects of love, crossing boundaries of class, continent and morality.”

BRIDE AND PREJUDICE is a Bollywood take on the Jane Austin classic. There is much singing and dancing and the spirit of the film is positively exuberant. The color palate of the film is dazzling. Fans of the TV show “Lost” may be surprised to see Naveen Andrews cast as Mr. Darcy’s good friend, Mr. Bingley. In an interview in About.com, Naveen said he had to train 9 hours a day for about 40 weeks (surely an exaggeration) to learn the dance numbers which he described as, “…traditional Indian dance coupled with M.C. Hammer from the early ‘90s.” The singer Ashanti makes a cameo appearance and sings a song that has no connection to the plot. According to Gurinder Chadha, it is a traditional in Bollywood films for a celebrity to make such a cameo appearance and sing a song unrelated to the storyline.

WATER takes place in 1938 and it tells the story of 2 women who are living in a widows’ house. At that time, if a woman’s husband died she had 3 choices: to marry her husband’s younger brother, if his family permits; to kill herself on his funeral pyre; or, to live a life of celibacy, discipline, and solitude in a house with other widows. The movie follows the lives of two women. Chuyia, had been married to a much older man. When he dies, her family places her in a widows’ house where, despite being a pre-teen, she is expected to live out her days. As the film progresses, it is heartbreaking to watch Chuyia slowly realize that her mother is not coming to take her home. Kalyani, another widow, meets a handsome young man, who is a progressive thinker. He believes in a new law which, while unpopular, does allow widows to re-marry. But crossing the river to meet his family, Kalyani realizes that events in her past, tying her to her beloved’s father, may prevent her from marrying. This film, like the other two, is beautifully shot and the performances are outstanding.

By the way, here are some additional films directed by these very talented women. Other notable films by Mira Nair: VANITY FAIR, THE NAMESAKE, and SALAAM BOMBAY. Other notable films by Deepa Mehta: FIRE and 1947: EARTH – the other 2 films that make up a trilogy. Another notable film by Gurinder Chadha: BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.

So, those are my party plans. I’ll happily take suggestions for future women’s DVD film festivals.

Jan Bina, blogger for In the Trenches Productions
First Entertainment Website for Women Over 40

Naked Lies

What do you see when you stand naked in front of your mirror?To quote Carson Kressley, Lifetime Television’s flamboyant host of “How to Look Good Naked,”

“Are you perfect? No. – Are you beautiful? YES!

Carson is correct. In many ways, we are all beautiful. To prove it, he has taken on the herculean task of single-handedly setting out to redefine beauty. While others have tried, Carson may succeed, for he’s redefining beauty where it lives… in your mind.

For as long as I can remember, popular culture has done a disservice to women. It begins early – as toddlers we try to mimic our mothers and/or older sisters. We watch them try, usually in vain, to emulate female perfection as dictated between the front and back covers of the days’ popular beauty magazines, awash in airbrushed photographs of undernourished models, the final prints bearing little resemblance to the human beings upon which they are based.

Sometimes, in order to rebuild, one must first dismantle that which exists. As Carson escorts each woman into his dreaded ‘room of mirrors,’ you see, by the looks upon their faces, that this experience is, as promised, “a girl’s worst nightmare.” Knowing that unseen millions of viewers will, at this moment, render judgement, is crippling to most women. Few, if any… especially those who agree to partake in this exercise… feel that they live up to those deeply ingrained ideals of womanhood.

Two particular episodes come to mind:

Episode #1: Alea, a 27-year-old beauty, is ushered by Carson into the ‘room of mirrors.’ Alea is, by anyone’s standards, quite beautiful. Thin and sculpted, Alea is visibly horrified at her appearance. “When I look in the mirror, all I see is flaws,” she says. Wondering if we’re looking at the same woman, I turn to my husband, who comments, “That’s sad.” He’s right.

Episode #2: Layla, 32-years-old, has been at odds with her figure for twenty years. She spoke of herself as “disgusting,” and used the word “hate” when asked how she felt about herself. Layla was, indeed, unattractive, but it was her attitude and obvious self-loathing that made her so. With Carson’s encouragement, all that was about to change.

Alea and Layla found themselves in a line-up of sorts. Real women, not models, were ushered in for honest side-by-side comparisons with the girls. Later, they found themselves vamping for a professional photographer who provided proof-positive that they were each quite beautiful in their own right.

Over the course of the next few days these two women, each of who spent much of their youth feeling revulsion towards themselves, emerged from their self-imposed isolation and began to see and like themselves for who they are rather than as the ‘before’ photo in some beauty ad. They came to realize that what they always considered ‘faults’ had less to do with their bodies and more to do with their self-image and physical presentation.

This blog is for and about women over 40. Most of us have, inch by inch, revised our internal standard of what it means to be feminine so that it better coincides with the changes that we observe in our own lives and in those of our friends and family. We have a duty to encourage younger women, to share our hard-won knowledge.

Beauty, it has been said, perhaps once too often, is in the eye of the beholder. Nowhere is that cliché better put to the test than when the beholder is you and the beauty that you’re beholding is yourself.

Posted by Mandy Crest, Blogger for Women Over 40 Rock! and In The Trenches Productions

“Caramel”- A Comedy from Beirut

    “Caramel”, now in limited release, is a light comedy about the love lives of 5 women filtered through the activities in a Beirut beauty salon.  A female ensemble comedy set in strife-filled, war-torn Lebanon sounds like an oxymoron, right?  But this is really an entertaining film that’s worth seeking out.  It is the feature directing debut of Nadine Labaki, a veteran director of commercials and music videos.  In addition, she co-wrote the script and plays Layale, the beautiful owner of the salon.   This film has received one of the widest U.S. theatrical releases of an Arab film in years.   Go to the website for specific release dates: http://www.newamericanvision.com/Caramel.html

This film finished shooting weeks before the beginning of the Israel-Lebanon war in July of 2006.  Add that tension into the normal stress of completing a film!  Not that this film is about war, because it isn’t.  It is about the romantic intrigues of 5 women.  Only through glimpses of the crumbled infrastructure do we see the toll war has taken.  But these references become comedic devices, like the salon’s hand- cranked generator that’s fired up every time the electricity goes out.  This is because the director has great affection for her city and has dedicated the film “to my Beirut”.   Here Christian neighborhoods co-exist next to Muslim neighborhoods with their separate religious rituals and traditions.  This religious tolerance is reflected in the women’s friendships; some are Muslim, others are Christian, even Catholic.  One of the most incongruous sights was a priest-led parade of a large Blessed Mother statue winding its way through the streets of  Beirut right into the beauty salon for the shop’s annual blessing.

I found this film fascinating because we don’t often see the everyday lives of Arab women portrayed in film. What struck me were not the differences but the similarities in their lives and the lives of western women.  We think of Arab women as leading restricted lives, and mostly hidden behind yards of fabric.  The women in this film seemed independent, dressed in bright, stylish clothes and had strong, dynamic personalities, at times verging on campy, and somewhat reminiscent of the colorful women in Pedro Almodovar’s films.

The film is episodic, following 5 different story lines.  While the situations aren’t particularly original, setting them in Beirut gives the film its unique flavor.  Layale, the shop owner, is having an affair with a married man.  Because she is an unmarried Arab woman, she lives at home with her parents and shares a bedroom with her younger brother.  There is a lesbian character unable to live openly as a gay woman, who finds sensual pleasure shampooing the magnificent mane of an exquisitely beautiful customer.   One of the women is Muslim and about to be married.  Desperate to cover her past, she has minor surgery to restore the appearance of virginity for her wedding night. This type of surgery is not exclusive to Arab countries.  Not long ago, the Los Angeles Times ran a story about L.A. women going in for this very same procedure– promoted as a way to add a little spice to that special night.  No matter what culture, women can’t seem to escape the pressure to physically alter their bodies to please their men.

There is also the story of Auntie Rose an older woman working as a tailor while tending to her demented older sister; this sister thwarts Rose’s attempt to have a liaison.  Finally, there is a storyline of an older actress trying to appear younger and stay in the game.   As an actor who’s been on countless commercial auditions, I was laughing and wincing at the character’s clumsy attempts to appear youthful and radiant as she auditioned for a cosmetic commercial.

This film taps into what we all feel in searching for love – bliss, excitement, heartbreak, longing, frustration and jealousy.  Nadine Labaki has extracted fine performances from her cast and, with one exception, they are nonprofessionals.  So, kudos to this fine young director for discovering these “real” women and creating a wonderful ensemble piece that allows each of them to shine.  By the way the title refers to a depilatory method of sugar waxing with caramel.   You could see this as a metaphor for the things women do to look sweet for their men.  But it’s also an apt title for a film that is a bitter-sweet story about the strength of women’s friendships.
Jan Bina, blogger/In the Trenches Productions

THINK LIFE OVER 40 IS DOWN HILL? THINK AGAIN!

Just saw Mandy Crest’s great Our Time Is Now blog, and it only reinforces the other reinforcement I came across…and one can never have too many reinforcements, as we all know.
Yesterday I read an article by Thea Singer in the Feb. edition of MORE magazine, and Singer has left me singing!
This article, “Power Surge”, reports on several studies that have followed women over many years (one for 5 decades) assessing various traits, including confidence, and guess what? Women in their 20s and 30s felt weak, incompetent and very unsure of themselves (no surprise to me, having been there). But in their 40’s these same women experienced an increase in confidence, felt that they had come into their own (as Mandy says), and that they could follow their own convictions no matter what others thought. Their sense of competency in their work and personal lives actually soared.
But how does the media portray most of us over 40? Dried-up and drifting from senior moment to senior moment. And I have to admit the media’s views of mid-life and older have always been tugging at my coattails, even though I knew that when I hit my 40s I was beginning to feel pretty good about myself. And then when I hit my 50s I even felt sort of complete…like I had come to know exactly who I was. BUT – as the 60s approached that nagging feeling that the media was right and it was all a mirage and I was really about to sink into the pool of senility grew ever stronger. Until – I read this article and all the info these studies had come up with. It, and then the follow up when I read Mandy’s blog, helped me realize what I had actually known all along – I have gotton better and better and better with age, and plan on continuing on this course.
So thank you, Ms. Singer, and Ms. Crest as well. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time, as I turn 66 this week. A better birthday prezzie I could not have hoped for!
Judith 66-and-lovin’-it Drake, Blogger for Women Over 40 Rock / In the Trenches Productions

Published in: on February 19, 2008 at 3:25 pm  Comments (4)  
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OUR TIME IS NOW

Our time is now.

As a young girl growing up in the ‘60s, I was raised in a sheltered New England community. Back then, I had yet to see a female newscaster, a female doctor, a female astronaut, or a female soldier. My young mind would have thought such a thing impossible.

Not long ago, the mature woman, as presented to us by mass media, was obsessed with keeping her husband’s dirty shirt collars clean and his coffee cup filled. To be a woman relegated you to a narrowly defined path; you were not encouraged, or expected, to wish for more. Television and movies portrayed the over-40 woman as asexual, content to tend to the needs of others at the expense of her own. What dreams they may once have harbored, now buried beyond reach. The worn cliché of a woman never admitting to being over 29 years of age is grounded in fact; to admit to anything else was to put oneself in danger of being deemed obsolete.

Flash to the 21st century — today. What a difference! From Hollywood to Washington DC, female role models abound. Together we have witnessed, and continue to witness, history in the making. History made when Nancy Pelosi took to the podium as the first-ever female US Speaker of the House. History now unfolding as Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman in history to find herself in serious contention for the position of United States President. Whether or not Hillary is elected, the landscape of US politics is forever changed. For the better.

Our time is now.

One need look no further than Candice Bergan’s character, Shirley Schmidt of ABC’s Boston Legal, to see a woman of action. Age is no barrier to Shirley, nor to Candice. They’re both smart, successful, vibrant, and confident in their sexuality. No wonder Candice was chosen to play the part.

Sally Field, Diane Keaton, Teri Hatcher, are just a few of the many women over 40 who have, throughout their careers, helped to shape the collective consciousness of more than one generation. Our daughters look, as did we, to these older women, and to the characters they play. In them, they see walking, talking evidence of that which is possible; that they too are free to pursue their dreams.

The beautiful and intelligent Vanessa Williams, age 44, gracing of cover of February’s More Magazine, it’s 10th Anniversary Edition, said, “I’m enjoying every moment. In your twenties, you think, I’ve got to prove something. In your forties, you don’t.” Bravo, Vanessa.

Our time is now.

We’re wiser at 40 than we were at 30. But to those of us nearing 60, 70, or older, the 40-year old is but a child. Most of us, sadly not all, have, by the time we’ve reached 40, learned some lessons along the way. For sure, we’ve learned a thing or two about life, and about our ability to cope and adapt when change rears its head. We embrace our dreams; no longer afraid of failure, for failure is just another lesson to be learned. We refuse to live a life of regret forged by an unwillingness to act upon our dreams.

Face it, 40 isn’t the new 30 any more than 60 is the new 40. But so what? We no longer feel compelled to lie about our age. We’ve earned those numbers and do not shrink from admitting them. We no longer feel it necessary to add “for my age” to the end of each sentence when we see ourselves in a mirror and admit that we look pretty good. Far from hanging up the “out of order” sign, aging prepares us to experience that which is to come. Our confidence, not to be confused with youth’s false bravado, is real, and comes from deep within. We’ve learned to trust our instincts in our quest to realize our potential.

Our time is now!

Speaking for myself, this is one over-40 woman who will not sit on the sidelines, content to watch the young girls have all the fun.

My Time is now. How about you?

Posted by Mandy Crest, Blogger for Women Over 40 Rock! and In The Trenches Productions