HOT DOCS ’15: ‘The 100 Years Show’ paints a glorious portrait of Carmen Hererra

carman-aged-100

THE 100 YEARS SHOW screened with IT’S ME, HILARY: THE MAN WHO DREW ELOISE at the 2015 Hot Docs Film Festival.

Hard work will pay off in due time, they say. It’s not always true, but it certainly is when it comes to the incredibly enduring Carmen Hererra, the subject of short film The 100 Years Show and inspiration to all us working ladies, young and old.

The 100 Years Show is a short, but sweet introduction to Herrera’s work and the feature film-esque story that comes along with it. This woman is nearing 100 years old and she’s still working, day after day, on her minimalist and ingeniously geometric paintings from her apartment in New York City. And she does all this after years of being rejected, forgotten about, in favour of men doing work equal, if inferior to her. You see, Hererra began painting when she was a young woman living in Cuba and France, but never received major recognition for her work until recent years, when she was embraced by modern art galleries like the Whitney and seen to be the secret forward-thinker in her craft she always was.

Certainly there’s a sad undertone to The 100 Years Show as director Alison Klayman gets Herrera to discuss the loss of the love of her life (Jesse Loewenthal) and convinces her friends to talk about her lack of drive (and, in a lot of cases, ability) to leave the house in older age. But it’s more uplifting than anything, as Klayman focuses mainly on Herrera’s successes and supporters, painting Herrera as a colourful and irresistible personality.

It’s hard not to smile when Herrera speaks about anything, as she has the sort of acerbic wit and joie de vivre we can all hope for in midlife, let alone when we’re going on a century’s worth. This is a woman who has learned to reward herself for her hard work first and foremost, whether that means having a cool drink in the middle of a work day or having friends over for dinner after it, and it shows.

If anything, the only thing not to love about The 100 Years Show is that it is only 29 minutes long. This woman deserves at least 100 minutes of our time, if not years.

A

 

Emily covered the 2015 Hot Docs Film Festival live from Toronto. Check out more Hot Docs reviews here.

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