The Impact Female Leadership Has on the World: Palm Beach the Movie
Practical life skills — how to live your best life, how to handle the new things you face each chapter of your life, and how to navigate relationships — these things aren’t taught to us in school. So, we often learn these things on the fly as we are experiencing them or from watching stories of people’s experiences in movies and other medium. And most usually, those come to us from a male point of view with a masculine slant.
When these stories are continually told by men with a male point of view, we perpetuate a state of patriarchy.
Palm Beach, written by Rachel Ward and Joanna-Murry Smith and directed by Rachel Ward is an amazing example of what happens when we have female leadership in creating a movie and telling a human story. It adds in a layer of vulnerability, authenticity and openness that provide great insight into parts of our lives that aren’t often talked about. Things like the angst and anxiety so many of us keep hidden, the difficulty in forming strong partnerships and parent/child relationships and in doing so, gracefully moving into our 50s and 60s and beyond. Giving rise to these issues in a relatable way is a gift that will hopefully lead to viewers feeling more comfortable broaching these topics and reaching out for the support they need.
On the surface, the movie is about Bryan Brown’s character Frank who is celebrating his 60th birthday with a group of lifelong friends. Thanks to Rachel Ward and her team, that boasts a long list of females, it is so much more… it is a story of friendship and family and relationships that take on different meaning throughout the years and the difficulty we have at every stage of life in navigating those successfully. It is real and raw and exposes life as it is. I would be remiss not to also give credit to Rachel’s real-life husband Bryan Brown who has boldly shared his personal struggle with anxiety so that we can understand these issues are not just in the movie, but they are real life. Together Rachel and Bryan and the rest of the cast and crew are doing us a great service by helping us to see that everyone goes through those things, we are not alone in our personal struggles.
Dame Changers, an organization supporting women in the screen industry, hosted “An Evening in Conversation with the Women of Palm Beach” bringing together Rachel Ward, Deborah Balderstone, Heather Mitchell and Jacqueline McKenzie to talk about the making of the movie. I was lucky enough to attend and hear Rachel speak to the need of bringing more women into the leadership of movie making so that we can start to see the world through a female lens so we can realize so much of the world had been portrayed through the male eye in the past and we shouldn’t just accept that lens, we need to move past and change it. And when we change it we open up the opportunity for more inclusiveness, connection and comfort in driving the changes we need to see in ourselves, society and the world.
To that end, Palm Beach, which Rachel said was originally about male angst only, was broadened to give equal attention to both the men and women in the film and their plights. And in doing this, we give women and men alike the opportunity to see themselves in these characters and identify with them and learn from them.
This type of diversity in film, like in any business adds value to the organization and typically brings with it greater success. The more leaders we have like Rachel Ward and her team in the movies in business and in government, the stronger we become as a society and as individuals looking to navigate our way to live the best life we can.