“It was shocking,” says actress Judith Ivey about the true story of widespread sexual assault that underlies the film “Women Talking.” “You just think that doesn’t happen, and that it couldn’t happen … and that we all have a certain amount of control and power over our lives that this wasn’t possible. But indeed, not only was it possible, but in that particular cloistered community, it was probable.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Ivey above.
Based on Miriam Toews‘s novel, which was inspired by a real incident in a Mennonite community, “Women Talking” tells the story of a group of women who must decide their next course of action after they learn they have been systematically drugged and abused by the men of their colony. As part of her preparation, Ivey attended a virtual Mennonite church service. “Their tenets really are pacifism, as is talked about in the film. There was a gentleness about it. I was warmed by it, hearing them talk about this and that, and they were also very community-driven.”
The film itself was also community-driven thanks in large part to writer-director Sarah Polley‘s open-minded, collaborative approach. “I can’t sing her praises enough of her respect that she extends to everybody,” says Ivey. “There is no sense of, ‘Well, I’m the director and I’m in charge’ … She’s very precise and has done her homework so that she knows what she wants, but she listens and entertains every suggestion.”
The support among the cast was just as strong with “nine to 11 of us many times in a scene.” Ivey remembers one particular 11-page scene that took 120 takes and three days to shoot. “What was remarkable – we’ve all commented on this – was everyone was there 110% each take. It never ever faltered … We all were there for each other. It was truly an Olympian feeling.”
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