Following the death of a dear friend who lived with unwavering purpose and passion into the later stages of her life, Emmy-winning performer Elaine Madsen remarked, “She was a woman like that.” This simple yet powerful phrase sparked a conversation between Elaine and her daughter, Oscar nominated actress Virginia Madsen, eventually leading them on a filmmaking journey. Together they set out to document what drives women who continue working, doing and thriving at a time in their lives when society expects them to just fade into the background.
Produced and narrated by Virginia and written and directed by Elaine, I Know A Woman Like That captures the stories of 17 brilliant women, ranging in age from their 60s to their 90s, who were carving out unique paths before the social revolution had a name, and are still today doing important work and vigorously pursuing their respective passions – education, social justice, environmental protection, the arts, and even competitive sports.
The film features interviews with better-known women including Eartha Kitt, Lauren Hutton, Gloria Steinem, and Rita Moreno, as well as some lesser-known, but equally as inspiring, like Tao Porchon, a 97-year-old yoga master and competitive ballroom dancer (we profiled her in March 2013), philanthropist Valerie Sobel, producer/financier Olive McQueen, among others. These remarkable women relish every moment, are fully engaged in society, and share an extraordinary attitude about how to live the upper decades of life.
“What inspired me to make this film was my mother. Her curiosity and passion in life is truly remarkable. I wanted to know what makes a woman like that.” – Virginia Madsen
Through this kind of intimate story sharing and telling, Elaine and Virginia’s goal was to answer the question, “What makes a woman like that?” In arriving at their conclusions, we wanted to know if the mother-daughter filmmakers learned anything that surprised them.
Virginia told WYSK, via email, “What surprised me especially was how our women were so open about their sexuality. Nothing has to end because of age. It only gets better. Sex becomes less about the visual and all about intimacy. And isn’t that what we all want at any age?”
What struck Elaine was the common thread she says wove itself through every interview. “They all shared a particular attitude that life was still unfolding, that no matter the age at which we met them ‘Life was so far from done’; a kind of curiosity about what else there was to discover.”
Elaine and Virginia’s hope is that the film serves as an inspiration to every woman at any age.
I Know A Woman Like That will be available on iTunes and DVD on May 10th. Netflix air date TBD.