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Tea Time: A new TV documentary showcasing female friendships

Published: July 19, 2015 | Last Updated: July 20, 2022 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
Tea Time (photo courtesy POV)

Tea Time (photo courtesy POV)

Tea Time is a documentary that offers a glimpse into the female friendships of five older Chilean women.

Tea Time is a new POV (Point of View) documentary film that will be aired for the first time on PBS on July 27. POV is  American television’s longest-running independent documentary series and was the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award.

The film offers viewers a virtual seat at the monthly gatherings of five older Chilean women who have been friends for 60 years. Filmed over a period of five years, it was directed by Maite Alberdi, an award-winning director and granddaughter of one of the women in the group.

I learned about the film through a press release and thought it might be something of interest to readers of this blog. If this post whets your appetite, you can check out when Tea Time will be aired in your city and mark your calendar (See PBS link at the end of this post).

Tea Time is a charming and poignant look at how a seemingly mundane routine of tea and pastries has helped the well-heeled participants commemorate life’s joys and cope with infidelity, illness and death. A celebration of the small things that help us endure, Tea Time, filmed over five years, illuminates a beautiful paradox: As familiar worlds slip away, friendships grow ever stronger and more profound.

Tea Time is not to be mistaken for a television chat show. The gatherings begin promptly at 5 p.m. with the saying of grace, after which the topics might range from marriage, divorce, soccer and gossip to illness and mortality. Not a hair is out of place among the well-coiffed, elegant and highly cultured women, who may disagree on many topics but are always genial. Voices are never raised, except perhaps in laughter.

“Tea Time takes us through a rite of friendship and shows the importance of traditions and celebrations and how rituals can help life make sense,” says Alberdi. While the gathering is routine, the array of topics and concerns is ever-changing and often surprising.

“Tea Time allows us to enter a female private space. Around the table, intimate and universal themes intersect and are analyzed from the particular perspective of elderly women who look at the world through the lens of their conservative backgrounds, and who have been forced to adapt.”

Some of the most captivating moments in the film are close studies of the women’s faces, which reveal lifetimes of struggle and change, but also lingering joy. During opening grace it is reported that a friend has died, which initially brings sorrow, then laughter as better times are recalled. The women sing songs, read love letters and talk about their health problems and the inevitability of death. The individual strength of each is amplified by the communal strength gained via their longstanding companionship.

I’ll be interested to hearing your impressions.

Take a peek at the trailer for the documentary:

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Comments (3)

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  1. Jared says:

    Thanks for sharing, Irene! I’ll watch it for sure.

  2. Jared says:

    99% of articles about friendships are about female friends.

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