Crosscut Tout: Stories of extraordinary women, for a cause

A screening tonight (Oct. 19) of the documentary "I Know a Woman Like That" will benefit Senior Services and Kawabe House.

A screening tonight (Oct. 19) of the documentary "I Know a Woman Like That" will benefit Senior Services and Kawabe House.

When does "old" happen? When answering that question during the film "I Know a Woman Like That," the famous actress and singer Rita Moreno, 77, sounds every bit as elegant as she looks: "Old to me means enriched, knowledgeable, beautiful, soulful."

And Lauren Hutton, alluring at 65, says, "The same thing is exciting now as what was always exciting all my life. Love. Sex."

Moreno, Hutton and more than a dozen other women over 65 are featured in the documentary. Every one of them is engaged, active and passionate, about the arts or education, social justice or sports, or other causes.

The film will screen at the Broadway Performance Hall tonight (Oct. 19) as part of a fundraiser for Senior Services and Kawabe House, a low-income senior housing facility just east of the International District. The event includes a reception and discussion with the filmmaker, Elaine Madsen, and author Maxine Hong Kingston, who is featured in the film. Kingston was the high-school teacher and a longtime mentor of a Seattle woman who was instrumental in bringing the film here for screening.

Some of the film's subjects are famous: Moreno, Hutton, singer Eartha Kitt, activist Gloria Steinem. Others aren't known names but they're no less remarkable: a 95-year-old competitive water skier, a 90-year-old yoga teacher who competes in ballroom dance, an 82-year-old grandmother who unexpectedly became a businesswoman when she was widowed at 75.

Madsen, the filmmaker, says on a website promoting the documentary, "I want everyone who sees this film to know that aging is not some fearsome thing. It is rather something to look forward to. The women in our film prove it with their own vivid lives.

"Our 'Women Like That' are the granddaughters of Suffragettes; we are Daughters of the Depression. If we dared to seek a career, go back to school, engage in politics or dared to divorce, there was not a social revolution to encourage us or to provide the ghost of a level playing field. And we did it anyway."

Some other powerful statements from the film itself:

The truth is, I've never been more powerful.
Basically, the wonderful thing about getting old is you get smarter.
I don't squander time, but I'm enjoying time.
There's not nearly enough said about what fun it is to grow older.

See for yourself here:

If you go: "'I Know a Woman Like That,' an Evening to Celebrate the Vitality of Older Women," 5:30-9 p.m. tonight (Oct. 19), Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Seattle. A donation of $50 benefits Senior Services and Kawabe House. For more information or to register online, go to


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