The Terrace Theater will screen 'Women Talking' Jan. 28 followed by a Skype Q&A with actress Shelia McCarthy | File photo

The Terrace Theater and Buxton Books welcome actress Sheila McCarthy Saturday during a Skype Q&A following a screening of her new movie Women Talking. McCarthy plays the character Greta in the film directed by Sarah Polley. 

Terrace Theater owner Paul Brown said he is thrilled to host a Q&A with McCarthy. 

“It’s incredible to see such an iconic actress taking on a role in such an important film,” Brown said.

Polly Buxton of Buxton Books said she is glad to participate in the event for another reason.

“We love collaborating with the Terrace to help elevate the arts in our beautiful city,” she said. “The Terrace offers such creative, unique celebrations of film and culture, and we’re always honored to work with Paul and his team.”

Women Talking follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony struggling to reconcile their faith after a string of sexual assaults in the community. Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Ben Whishaw star in the film alongside McCarthy.

The story was originally published in 2018 as a novel by Miriam Toews, who grew up in a small Mennonite community in Manitoba, Bolivia. In the book, a former apostate returns to the community as a schoolteacher. Following the assaults, she leads the women in the community as they debate their next course of action: Do nothing? Stay and fight? Leave? 

Women Talking was adapted from a 2018 novel by Miriam Toews | Courtesy MGM

Director Polley released her cinematic interpretation of the book Dec. 23, which has already garnered awards as well as nominations such as Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film’s thoughtful approach to the subject matter operates as much like a stage play by focusing on the minutiae of conversations between women in the community. 

In a conversation with host Jeffrey Brown on PBS NewsHour, Polley said, “One of the resonant parts [of the book] for me was the power of language, the power of having words for something that’s previously been unspoken, the power of having a conversation come in to the culture that hasn’t been part of it. That’s what these women are doing. And I think, most importantly, what I loved about the conversations is that it wasn’t just about the harm that had been done. It was about, how do we find a way forward? How do we build a better world? What do we want that to look like?”

Actress McCarthy is a veteran of Canadian television and film. She has acted in everything from indie dramas (I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing) to bawdy comedies (Puppets Who Kill) to explosive blockbusters (Die Hard 2). Three decades ago, she appeared in an episode of the  drama-horror anthology The Hidden Room, and Women Talking director Polley played McCarthy’s character’s daughter.  

McCarthy told A Frame, (the digital magazine of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), “I remember even then, [Polley’s] exactness under her incredible sweetness.”

According to her, very little about Polley has changed, noting that she had retained those personality traits as an actress, but also demonstrated a collaborative nature as a director. 

She told A Frame, “I don’t often feel comfortable offering ideas to directors and — not to put too fine a point on it — I am not often asked for ideas. Sarah was the opposite,” McCarthy said. 

“She even put my whole bedroom set back together on the very last day of shooting just so that  [my character] could make the bed after waking up from a drugged-induced night and rape. I had offered that idea up months earlier; to pull up my meager bedspread as though nothing bad had happened to me in the night, and Sarah stored that idea away, then remembered it. ‘Wanna make your bed, Sheila?’ We shot it and she gave me credit for it in front of the entire crew. Directors don’t usually do that for actors… That was the best moment in the film for me. My Oscar.”

As the film’s accolades build and the Oscar buzz gets louder, McCarthy pondered what’s in store for her career to A Frame. “I suppose the success of the movie could kick open a few doors for me now. Who knows? It is a fickle business,” McCarthy said.

“Doing this movie at this time in my career is crazy, and makes me a tad lightheaded from all the attention. I also just read that Bette Midler loved our movie — I am starstruck with the idea of that. I am determined to just enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts and try not to faint if I get to meet Brad Pitt.”

The Women Talking screening begins at 3:30 p.m., followed immediately by the Q&A. Purchase tickets for the screening and Q&A here.

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