Amber Tamblyn’s directorial debut, Paint it Black, will screen twice at the Woodstock Film Festival - tonight at 6:30 at the Woodstock Playhouse in Woodstock and Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre in Saugerties at 5:30 p.m. She will also participate in the festival’s "Women in Film and Media" panel on Saturday October 15 at the Kleinert James Art Center in Woodstock. Other participants in the panel are Bette Gordon, Catherine Hardwicke, and Mary Stewart Masterson. The panel is moderated by Thelma Adams.

Based on the novel of the same name by Janet Fitch, Paint it Black explores and explodes the confusion of grief when Josie’s boyfriend, Michael, commits suicide and his death brings her into the orbit of his powerful and powerfully cold and heartbroken mother, Meredith. Their strained relationship circling around who knew Michael better, who loved him more, and what can they get from - and do to - each other now that he is gone.

Tamblyn co-wrote the adaptation with Ed Dougherty. It stars Alia Shawkat as Josie and Janet McTeer as Meredith.

Living on a homestead in Homer, Alaska, singer-songwriter Jewel learned to yodel at age five, and joined her parents’ entertainment act, working in hotels, honky-tonks, and biker bars. Behind a strong-willed family life with an emphasis on music and artistic talent, however, there was also instability, abuse, and trauma.

At age fifteen, she moved out and tasked herself with a mission: to see if she could avoid being the kind of statistic that her past indicated for her future. Soon after, she was accepted to the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, and there she began writing her own songs as a means of expressing herself and documenting her journey to find happiness.

Jewel was eighteen and homeless in San Diego when a radio DJ aired a bootleg version of one of her songs and it was requested into the top-ten countdown, something unheard-of for an unsigned artist. By the time she was twenty-one, her debut had gone multiplatinum.

Jewel’s memoir Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story is out in paperback.

A former child actor best known for her starring roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and out of place: as the only kid on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, a Valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and a grown-up the world still remembers as a little girl.

Tackling everything from what she learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to discovering in adolescence that she was no longer “cute” enough for Hollywood, her book, Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, charts her journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity.

  Ariel Leve is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Guardian, Financial Times Magazine, the Telegraph, the Observer, and the London Sunday Times Magazine, where she was a senior writer and a columnist.

Ariel Leve grew up in Manhattan with an eccentric mother she describes as “a poet, an artist, a self-appointed troublemaker and attention seeker.” Leve learned to become her own parent, taking care of herself and her mother’s needs. There would be uncontrolled, impulsive rages followed with denial, disavowed responsibility, and then extreme outpourings of affection. How does a child learn to feel safe in this topsyturvy world of conditional love?

She writes about her life and her mother in he memoir, An Abbreviated Life.

  In 1979, Liz Pryor was a seventeen-year-old girl from a good family in the wealthy Chicago suburbs. Halfway through her senior year of high school, she discovered she was pregnant—a fact her parents are determined to keep a secret from her friends, siblings, and community forever.

One snowy January day, after driving across three states, her mother dropped her off at what Liz thinks is a Catholic home for unwed mothers—but which is, in truth, a locked government-run facility for delinquent and impoverished pregnant teenage girls.

Liz Pryor has written her story in the new book, Look at You Now. Pryor has written a deeply moving story and she share with us this morning. Liz Pryor is an author, speaker, parenting columnist, and life advice expert. She currently serves as ABC’s Good Morning America on-air life advice guru. 

  "Whoever said you can't get sober for someone else never met my mother, Mama Jean. When I came to in a Manhattan emergency room after an overdose to the news that she was on her way from Texas, I panicked. She was the last person I wanted to see on that dark September morning, but the person I needed the most."

So begins this astonishing memoir ― by turns both darkly comic and deeply poignant ― about this native Texan's long struggle with alcohol, his complicated relationship with Mama Jean, and his sexuality. The book is listed as “Required Reading” in Mary Karr’s bestselling The Art of Memoir and was a Book Chase Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2015.

Margaux Bergen began writing her new book when her daughter Charlotte turned nine and she gave it to her right after graduation from high school, when she was setting off for her first day of college.

In Navigating Life: Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me, Bergen shares her own lessons learned in hopes that her trials and errors might benefit her daughter as she set off for college and prepares to navigate life for the first time on her own.

Margaux Bergen has spent the last twenty years raising three children and working all over the world at large and small institutions focused on international development and women’s leadership.

  In her one woman show, Forever, Pulitzer prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith travels to the famed Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris where, by the graves of legendary artists such as Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison, she finds unexpected grace in a gripping tale of the legacy a daughter inherits from her mother.

Forever opens tonight on Weston Playhouse’s OtherStages in Weston Vermont, directed by Steve Stettler.

  Best known of award-winning New York Times and Newsweek columns, Anna Quindlen returns with her eighth novel, Miller's Valley. 

The setting is a farming valley in Pennsylvania during the height of the Viet Nam War. Outside influences like the war and a government plan to flood the valley affect the lives of one family - and the community.

  The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality.
When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. 

His book is Boy Erased: A Memoir.

  Many know Kimberly Williams-Paisley as the bride in the popular Steve Martin remakes of the Father of the Bride movies, the calculating Peggy Kenter on Nashville, or the wife of country music artist, Brad Paisley. But behind the scenes, Kim was dealing with a tragic secret: her mother, Linda, was suffering from a rare form of dementia that slowly crippled her ability to talk, write and eventually recognize people in her own family.
Where the Light Gets In tells the full story of Linda’s illness—called primary progressive aphasia—from her early-onset diagnosis at the age of 62 through the present day.

  Gone with the Mind is Mark Leyner’s latest novel – in which a character named Mark Leyner is to give a reading from his autobiography, also entitled Gone with the Mind, in a mall food court. 

  Brooke Shields never had what anyone would consider an ordinary life. She was raised by her single mom, Teri, a woman who loved the world of show business and was often a media sensation all by herself. Brooke's iconic modeling career began by chance when she was only eleven months old, and Teri's skills as both Brooke's mother and manager were formidable. But in private she was troubled and drinking heavily.

In There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, Shields tells her story of the remarkable, difficult, complicated woman who was her mother.

  March 18th through the 20th, Rachel Siegel and WAM Theatre will present a workshop production of SPECIAL – a play in development created and performed by Rachel Siegel – at Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA.

Based on personal experience and inspired by interviews with mothers of children with special needs, SPECIAL follows one woman's journey after she discovers she is pregnant with a child with Down syndrome.

Rachel Siegel joins us now along with Jayne Atkinson who is acting as co-director for the workshop.

  On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible.

  Pulitzer Prize winning author Elizabeth Strout’s bestselling novels Olive Kitteridge  and The Burgess Boys  have illuminated our most tender relationships.

Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, she shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.


  In her latest novel, After Birth, Elisa Albert writes about motherhood and friendship. The book tells the story of Ari who lives in a town in upstate New York and is supposed to be working on a Ph.D. in women’s studies but she has major postpartum depression.

The book issues a wake-up call to a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles and expects them to act like natives.

  When Sukey Forbes lost her six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, to a rare genetic disorder, her life felt as if it were shattered forever. Descended from two distinguished New England families, Forbes was raised in a rarefied—if eccentric—life of privilege. Yet, Forbes’s family history is also rich with spiritual seekers, including her great-great-great-grandfather Ralph Waldo Emerson. On the family’s private island enclave off Cape Cod, apparitions have always been as common as the servants who once walked the back halls. But the “afterlife” took on new meaning once Forbes dipped into the world of clairvoyants to reconnect with Charlotte.

With a mission to help others by sharing her own story, Forbes chronicles a world of ghosts that reawakens us to a lost American spiritual tradition. The Angel in My Pocket tells a moving tale of one mother’s undying love for her child.

  When you enlist in the United States military, you don’t just sign up for duty; you also commit your loved ones to lives of service all their own. No one knows this better than Elaine Brye, an “Army brat” turned military wife and the mother of four officers—one each in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

For more than a decade she’s endured countless teary goodbyes, empty chairs at Thanksgiving dinners, and sleepless hours waiting for phone calls in the night. She’s navigated the complicated tangle of emotions—pride, worry, fear, hope, and deep, enduring love—that are part and parcel of life as a military mother.

  Can You Hear Me Baby? Stories of Sex, Love, and OMG Birth! is being presented as a staged reading with music on March 27th and 28th at Berkshire Theatre Group's Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge, MA as a benefit for the National Perinatal Association, Berkshire Festival of Women Writers and WAM Theatre.

Written by Lisa Rafel, with music by Lisa Rafel and Gary Malkin, Can You Hear Me Baby? brings together birth stories and original music to dramatize the joy, challenges, personal courage and profundity of birth.

Here to tell us more are playwright Lisa Rafel and the production’s director/producer Jayne Atkinson.

Swoosie Kurtz

Aug 20, 2014


  In Part Swan, Part Goose: An Uncommon Memoir of Womanhood, Work, and Family, Swoosie Kurtz shares just the right combination of personal misadventure and showbiz lore, candidly reflecting on the right choices that empowered her, the wrong choices that enlightened her, and the intimate journey of caring for an aging parent.

  In her new book, Rescuing Julia Twice, Tina Traster tells foreign-adoption story - from dealing with the bleak landscape and inscrutable adoption handlers in Siberia, to her feelings of inexperience and ambivalence at being a new mother in her early forties, to her growing realization over months then years that something was “not quite right” with her daughter, Julia, who remained cold and emotionally detached.

Listener Essay - Mother's Day Retort

May 9, 2014

  Kate Cohen is a writer and editor in Albany, New York. You can find more of her work at


  This Sunday is Mother’s Day and today in our Ideas Matter segment, we’ll learn about representations of women and motherhood in film from Dr. Jennifer Creech, she served as a panelist a recent New York State Humanities Council-funded film series, "Celebrating Women of Courage and Character" at Rochester's Little Theater Film Society.

Professor Creech received her Ph.D. in Germanic Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2006. She is an Assistant Professor of German in the Department of Modern Languages & Cultures at the University of Rochester and is an Affiliate Faculty member in the Film & Media Studies Program and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Women's Studies.

    Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son is Lori Duron’s poignant memoir of her adventures in raising a gender creative child. The book comes from Lori’s popular blog of the same name.

Raising My Rainbow is the story of her family as they navigate the often challenging but never dull privilege of raising a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son.

  On December 14, 2012, Scarlett Lewis experienced something that no parent should ever have to endure: she lost her son Jesse in an act of unimaginable violence. The day started just like any other, but when a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Scarlett’s life changed forever.

Following Jesse’s death, Scarlett went on an unexpected journey, inspired by a simple three-word message he had scrawled on their kitchen chalkboard shortly before he died: Norurting Helin Love (Nurturing Healing Love). It was as if he knew just what his family would need in order to go on after this horrible tragedy.

**As mentioned in the interview posted here, J.T. Lewis' website is**

    Award-winning poet Jeanne Murray Walker tells an extraordinarily wise, witty, and quietly wrenching tale of her mother's long passage into dementia.

This powerful story explores parental love, profound grief, and the unexpected consolation of memory.

  The documentary feature film, Breastmilk is screening as part of the upcoming Woodstock Film Festival.

Despite endless research on the benefits of breastfeeding, the stigma surrounding the natural practice has led to a new world of motherhood where maternity confronts sexuality and naturalists are confront a culture of baby formula, breast pumps and skepticism. The film features a wide range of frank and revealing interviews with breastfeeding women as they addresses the many questions around breast milk.

First time director/producer Dana Ben-Ari joins us now to talk about her experience making the film.

  This segment begins with audio from an episode of the 1980s television series, Fame. In the clip, Carol Burnett performs with the eldest of her three daughters, Carrie.  Carrie was a series regular and Carol joined the program as a guest star.

In 2002 - at the age of 38 - Carrie died of cancer. 

The new book, Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story is Carol Burnett’s poignant tribute to her late daughter and a funny and moving memoir about mothering an extraordinary young woman through the struggles and triumphs of her life. Sharing her personal diary entries, photographs, and correspondence, Carol traces the journey she and Carrie took through some of life’s toughest challenges.

    Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks.

But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism.