World Woman Summit and Arkansas Cinema Society screen "The Tale" at The Rep | Rock Candy

Thursday, October 11, 2018

World Woman Summit and Arkansas Cinema Society screen "The Tale" at The Rep

Posted By on Thu, Oct 11, 2018 at 10:22 AM

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Trauma and memory intertwine in some very specific and very complex ways. Perhaps that intertwining has never been more at the forefront of the national conversation as it has these last two weeks, when psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about her sexual assault at the hands of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh some 36 years prior, leaning into the microphone to say, "Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter."

That timeliness, as well as some painfully difficult scenes to watch, might be exactly why this screening of "The Tale" from the World Woman Summit and the Arkansas Cinema Society at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is exactly where you should be Friday night.




Directed by Jennifer Fox, executive produced by Waldron native Jayme Lemons and anchored by actor Laura Dern, the film details the aftermath of a short story Jennifer's mother finds - one Jennifer wrote as a child - that reshapes the narrative of Jennifer's childhood relationship with an older couple at a horse-riding camp, revealing sexual abuse that Jennifer had, in her memories of the summer, thought of as consensual. The film, The Cut says, "manages to respect both its young protagonist’s agency and her older self’s sense of justice. The result is an extraordinary exploration of sexual abuse, shaped by the ambiguities of memory and maturity."

The Cut's piece on "The Tale" describes a particularly jolting moment:
Much of the film takes place in flashback, as Jennifer tries to disentangle her subjective memories from objective reality. As she begins to reflect back on the past, we see her younger self, Jenny — a poised, statuesque teenage girl with a blonde half-ponytail — arriving at the summer horseback-riding program where she will gradually be groomed for abuse. Thirteen-year-old Jenny looks young, certainly, but her presence isn’t jarring; she looks not unlike the many sprightly ingénues through Hollywood history who have shared the screen with older male love interests. (The actress who plays her, Jessica Flaum, was around 16 when the film was shot.) A bit later in the film, the adult Jennifer goes to visit her mom and looks through some photo albums. She points to a picture of Jenny, a smile of relief on her face as she thinks of the summer at camp: “Oh yeah, that’s me.”

Her mother corrects her. “Oh no, that’s ’75 — you were already 15 in that picture. Let me show you 13. There. That’s 13.” Her mom flips to a photo of a much, much younger girl — a chubby-cheeked, flat-chested child. Jennifer is horrified. “I was so little,” she gasps.

From that point on, her flashbacks feature a much younger actress (Isabelle Nélisse, who was 11 at the time of filming) playing her in flashback. It’s a punch in the gut for viewers, and a perfect illustration of the disjuncture between how we see ourselves and how we look to the outside world.
"The Tale" screens at Arkansas Repertory Theatre at 7 p.m. Friday, October 12. Get tickets here. A Q&A with Lemons and Senior Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy at SAG-AFTRA is included with the $15 admission, and an afterparty follows.

Correction: In the print edition of this week's Arkansas Times issue, the location for this screening was listed as the Arkansas Arts Center. The screening takes place at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

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