A new documentary takes gender equity into the Minnesota wilderness.
“Women Outward Bound,” which will screen during the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, chronicles the experiences in 1965 of 24 young people who were the first women allowed to attend the Minnesota Outward Bound School (now Voyageur Outward Bound School).
“I hope the takeaway from ‘Women Outward Bound’ is that a girl or a woman can do almost anything, get through almost anything, persevere through almost anything — using the intelligence of her mind and strength of her body,” said director Maxine Davis, one of the 24 and a junior at Washburn High School in Minneapolis at the time.
Davis said she didn’t head to Outward Bound with a bigger purpose.
“I didn’t go to Minnesota Outward Bound School to prove a point. I just liked being in the out-of-doors,” said Davis in an e-mail interview.
The film will screen at 2 p.m. April 10 at St. Anthony Main Theater 2 in Minneapolis. The film also will screen April 20 in Rochester. More information is online at womenoutwardbound.com.
Here are edited excerpts from the interview with Davis:
How did your experience in 1965 inform you, change you going forward?
Mostly, I wanted to be prettier, get better grades, and be liked. … At Outward Bound I learned to work as a team member. Because Title IX didn’t exist yet, few girls learned how to work in a team. Not only did I learn skills to take care of myself and others in the wilderness, I learned how to travel and live comfortably and safely in nature. Finally, I learned tenacity and grit.
Early on at the school, we all learned if you get wet and dirty, cold and tired, that’s ok. You will dry out, clean up, warm up and eventually get some rest. I learned most challenges have a solution — particularly if you work together.
How has making the film of what you and the other 23 girls experienced affected you? How has it resonated?
Filmmaking is a team process. Whether you’re in production with a crew of a hundred people or only two, you need to know your strengths and acknowledge what each person is bringing to the project. Each of us, all 24 girls, had very different experiences in our 1965 class. Making “Women Outward Bound” with Melody Gilbert, the co-producer and writer, and Nick Clausen, the videographer and editor, was a team project as well.
In making “Women Outward Bound,” I learned that back in 1965 we had one month of amazingly difficult experiences in a stunningly gorgeous place … where we learned to appreciate the beauty of nature and to move at its pace.
What’s the broader message you are hoping viewers take away?
Girls should take risks — and failing is ok. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And look at the beauty of nature everyday.