Some know her as the youngest child of Senator Robert Francis ‘“Bobby” Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy; born six months after her father’s assignation. Other’s remember that it was while on their way to her wedding that her cousin John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife, and his sister-in-law were killed in a plane crash. However, I know her as a director/producer, activist and advocate, philanthropist, and role-model for not just women, but for storytellers.
Rory Elizabeth Katherine Kennedy (born December 12, 1968) is a documentary filmmaker specializing in films with a social conscience. Rory’s critically acclaimed documentary that she directed and co-produced American Hollow (1999) about a struggling Appalachian family, was my first introduction, and when I started calling myself a fan.
In 2014, I had the pleasure of attending the Sarasota Film Festival’s opening night film, Last Days In Vietnam. Co-written by her husband, Mark Bailey, Rory directed the documentary about the final chaotic weeks of the Vietnam War and the decision on whether to obey White House orders to evacuate U.S. citizens only — or risk treason, and save the lives of as many South Vietnamese citizens as possible.
I remember sitting two rows behind Ethel Kennedy and Charlie Crist. Being the “people-watcher” that I am, I wondered if I would be able to pull my gaze away from observing their reactions, to watch the documentary? Yet, once the lights dimmed and the film rolled, I was so engaged with the imagery and history before me that nothing could distract me.
Fast-forward to 2017 Sarasota Film Festival opening night film. Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, directed by Rory Kennedy and co-written by Mark Bailey (both in attendance) is a departure from her typical subject matters. I took my seat, front and center, in the Sarasota Opera House. I heard the man behind me complain to his wife about the length of the film, and that he might “rest his eyes” during the screening.
There was no time to rest anything during this adrenal ride called Laird Hamilton, the best big wave surfer in the world today. He co-invented tow-in surfing, is an occasional fashion and action-sports model, and married to Gabrielle Reece (professional volleyball player/television personality/model). This aquaphile knows no fear.
I had a fear…
Ten minutes into this exhilarating “water-world” and I had to pee — bad! Everyone around was on the edge of their seats…and so was I.
OMG, I’m not going to make it…108 minutes left!
There was no way out, I was in the middle with ten seats on either side, smack dab in front.
Ugh, another wave.
The film was about surfing, the oceans, water, the sound of water…I was miserable. I couldn’t enjoy anything about it until we stood to clap and I ran as fast as I could — in heels, with my legs crossed, to the Ladies Room.
Attending the afterparty was embarrassing. Rory Kennedy’s “big fan” missed the film because she shouldn’t have finished that bottle of Dasani. The partygoers raved about the cinematography and what an amazing documentary. Even the guy who was supposed to be “resting his eyes” wouldn’t stop applauding its premiere. I couldn’t help feeling disappointed — but thankful for Netflix.
The moral of the story is:
VIP seating is nice, but sometimes the nosebleed section ain’t so bad!
Photo Credits: Top photo-Pixabay, Bottom Photo from Sarasota Film Festival Facebook Page
Erma Bombeck meets Sex and the City
Growing up I’ve always heard, “If it’s going to happen, it will happen to Lee.”
True as this statement has proven to be, I believe it all happened to ME, so I could share it with YOU.
Laugh along with me…
LeeVolpe.com …..where laughter begins