Looking forward to attending the Death and the Maiden Conference next weekend at Winchester University, where ‘Rachel’ will be screened to an audience of academics, artists, musicians and professionals with an interest in end of life, and afterlife, care. I will be on a panel discussing the issues raised by the film and I am delighted that Deborah Rush – who so kindly agreed to host our film shoot at her branch of Leverton’s in Muswell Hill – will also be on that panel.
For me this is a wonderful opportunity. If you were involved in making the film, have read any of my early posts, or know me well enough to know the history behind the writing and making of ‘Rachel’, then you will understand well that it was not purely for artistic expression that I wanted to bring this project to fruition.
Above all, I wanted to provoke thought and discussion about what happens when we lose someone we love and how we deal with it, especially when so many of us are forming relationships that bring different cultures together. Who are funerals for – the living or the dead? How can we make the process of facing our mortality a more positive experience? How can we heal after losing a loved one? How can we find a way to honour one set of traditions without necessarily wounding another? How can we live with someone who wants to live differently from us? How can someone who doesn’t have a voice nonetheless speak?
‘Rachel’ is about a Jewish girl who has abandoned the faith and community she grew up in – that in itself is contentious topic and I fully expect there to be some difficult conversations around that. I chose to set the story in the Jewish community because that is part of my married identity, and the story was inspired by a conversation between my mother-in-law and her daughter. I felt I had the right to tell this particular story but the true strength of Rachel’s story is that it could be set in any community and that religion is only one of many issues that can bring conflict. I have never told the story of the film without hearing an equally difficult, and often yet more tragic story in return.
The Death and The Maiden Conference is sure to be an illuminating and exciting event and I feel sure that I will come away from the weekend inspired to tell new stories. I can’t wait to meet the other delegates and look forward to reporting back afterwards.