In yet another in a long line of media offerings that prove how men can be complete trash, filmmaker Alex Holmes' (House of Saddam) 2018 documentary Maiden comes to the Center for Contemporary Arts this week in all of its inspirational, moving and satisfying glory.
Essentially a tale of triumph, Maiden focuses on skipper Tracy Edwards, a British ne'er-do-well who, in the 1980s, fell in love with sailing and set out to prove a crew comprised entirely of women—a first at the time—could compete and thrive in the sailing world, while proving to herself that life is indeed worth living. Facing seemingly insurmountable odds at every turn, Edwards transformed a junker of a boat and an inexperienced crew into a nautical powerhouse unshackled by society's notions of proper sailing. And it feels so, so good.
Through unbelievably pristine footage from the 1990 Whitbread Round the World Race (that's 33,000 miles, btw), family photos, interviews with Edwards and her crew, plus news footage, journalistic retellings and eyewitness accounts, a picture slowly unfolds; of a woman who found her passion and blew down the doors of a sport dominated by men—a yacht race clinging to played-out tradition for far too long. The crew of the Maiden wound up inspiring countless fans and proving a little something about how capable women truly are to an entire generation of kids, the affects of which are still felt to this day.
At times, Maiden is so uplifting it's borderline absurd, and the tears come rolling easily as Edwards navigates treacherous waters, flaky funders and her nemeses on the French sailing team. When she becomes the first-ever woman to win Whitbread's Seaman of the Year awards, the emotion is palpable, both back then and still today. At other times, however, it's as boring as the doldrums that put Edwards and her crew at a disadvantage during one of the race's legs all those years ago. But in the end, the sailing itself takes a backseat to the intrepid and unflappable spirit of the women who made history and ensured yachting would never be the same again.
+Satisfying; amazing footage
-Sometimes boring; sometimes rage-inducing
Directed by Holmes
Center for Contemporary Arts, PG, 97 min.