Dede Gardner interview: ‘Women Talking’ producer
“I was really excited about the idea of producing a movie with Fran,” says Dede Gardner about how she came to produce the film “Women Talking.” Frances McDormand had the rights to the novel by Miriam Toews and brought it to Gardner, who “thought the book would make an extraordinary film. It was cinematic … There was a ticking clock, I knew how the movie would end, I knew sort of what incited the events of the film, so it felt like a perfect jewel.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Gardner above.
“Women Talking” tells the story of Mennonite women who discover that they have been systematically drugged and assaulted by the men of their colony and must decide whether to forgive their abusers, fight back, or leave the colony altogether. The film, like the book, bills itself as “an act of wild female imagination,” which is how Gardner knew that Sarah Polley was the right choice to write and direct. When the producer saw Polley’s documentary “Stories We Tell,” “I thought it was just like ninja-level imagination. I’d never seen a movie like that. And so I thought of her when I read that sentence in the book.” As luck would have it, Polley had already expressed interest in the novel before she was chosen for the job.
Though the film takes place in an insular Mennonite community with its specific customs and values, Gardner is amazed by “the extent of its applicability” in wider contexts. “You step back from it for a minute and you think, oh right. Basically all I do all day long in every situation is decide, am I going to do nothing, am I going to stay, or am I going to leave? So I’ve really appreciated how large the echo is of that fundamental set of choices. That’s been really gratifying.”