Three women - a local author, the subject of a Finnish play, and a Palestinian widow. What have they in common? Their valiant determination to fight for what they believe is right and just.
THE AUTHOR: Patty Markham Peterson, living in Hancock, whose life changed instantly when her husband died in a head-on collision. She survived by using her most valuable tools - meditation, yoga and especially her writing skills. Her new book, "Expanding Heart," brings together all her talents - a compelling book that helps her readers take their own transformational journeys. With heartfelt stories, she guides with advice from her aspirations on health and healing. She shows how to rise from life's seemingly dead-end issues to bring great joy to herself and others. Sponsored by the Community Coalition on Grief and Bereavement, she will be at the Juntila Center's lobby today from 4 to 6 p.m. for a book signing.
THE PLAY: A local musician, teacher and dramatist brings his annual play production to the Finnish American Heritage Center today through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.. "What Now, Niskavuori?" is about the life of famed playwright, Hella Wuolijoki - dramatized recently in a Nordic Film offering last month - about a wily, iron-willed woman who fought to retain her manoral farm in Western Finland. Her struggle to retain ownership despite family discord is now presented in play form as it recounts events during and at the end of Finland's Continuation War, covering a memorable period of strife from the 1930s to 1940s. The story comes dramatically alive thanks to an English translation from Melvin Kangas with Hannu Leppanen. Tickets are $5, purchased at the door. Fans of Kangas' years of play production at the Center can expect another unique dramatization, minimally created, and capably acted by a host of local students and residents.
THE MOVIE: Club Indigo at the Calumet Theatre features a 2009 Israeli film, "The Lemon Tree," next Friday the 9th at 7:15 p.m., preceded by a multi-course Middle Eastern buffet from Hancock's Keweenaw Co-Op at 6 p.m.
What does a middle-aged Palestinian widow do when an Israeli magistrate moves across from her generations-old lemon orchard and, fearing terrorists might conceal themselves among the trees, orders the orchard to be chopped down. His wife crosses the dividing street to meet the widow, and the two women combine to save the only source of living for the widow. But they face two overpowering obstacles: the ongoing war between Israelis and Palestinians and the fact that women have little defense in a male-dominated society.
The story based on a true incident focuses on Selma, the widow who faces her dilemma as a woman under foreign dominance. Actresses competed strongly to play the coveted role, with Israli Hiam Abbass winning out, and she shines as the widow who defiantly faces a war of wills and laws. Selma's family has grown and gone, she lives a quiet life of subservient desperation,. Her intimate friendship with a lawyer heaps scorn on her by her neighbors. Under intense pressures, she fights for her rights against the odds, and is always willing to share a cool glass of lemonade with anyone who enters her modest home.
Israeli director Eran Riklis tried not to make the film explicitly feminist, though the female characters are portrayed most sympathetically; however, he admitted it could be interpreted the way many critics stated: That the film's bittersweet ending depicts an estranged woman's difficult status. Sympathy is definitely on her side.
As might be expected, the film performed poorly with Israeli audiences, despite praise from the Jerusalem Post, which stated, "You will leave the theatre uplifted and stunned, craving a glass of Selma's lemonade, prepared so lovingly for all" and it won positive reaction in other areas including the U.S., where it won the N.Y. Times' critic pick of the year. It was heavily praised for "rich performances by all its striking stars."
The movie is sponsored by Aspirus in Laurium and Thermo-Analytics in Franklin Township. For seating at the buffet, a call to the theatre should be made at least a day in advance at 337-2610.
Three local events, all worthy of attention for their collective focus on the courageous actions of three entirely different women - of interest as inspirations to anyone of either gender.
Rotten Tomato averages: "Silent Hill," D; "Fun Size, "D+.