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Women from Harbour Review Aretha Franklin Biopic: Respect

Last week an all-women group of staff and residents from the charity participated in a trip to the local cinema to watch Respect.

Respect is a biopic film about the life and achievements of Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, singer, songwriter, actress, writer, and civil rights activists. Her music and her achievements while contending with prejudice as a Black American female artist are testament to her genius that ensures her iconic status lives on.

However, behind the fame and fortune, there was huge emotional pain and her ‘demons’ plagued much of her life. She lost her mother in tragic circumstances and had been witness to her parent’s troubled marriage. As the daughter of a successful pastor she experienced sexual abuse leading to her first pregnancy at the age of 12.

She also experienced domestic abuse and alcohol addiction before working a program in a bid to free herself of the ‘demons’.

Harbour Housing staff felt that it was important to encourage our female residents from our EVA service and other projects to watch this film as its brave narrative unravels the legacy of trauma and abuse which resonates so closely to the experiences many of them share. 

The film is authentic and validates the story of a woman who experienced trauma but found a way to live with her demons in abeyance. She lived, she lost, she conquered.

Our residents recognised the parallels to Aretha’s life in their own and were moved by her story and inspired by what she achieved in both her personal and professional life. If this message came across so resoundingly then it was impossible to ignore that there is hope for each and every woman to recover from their ‘demons’ and become exactly who they want to be.

Women who attended this viewing gave the following feedback when asked what their main takeaway had been:

“I thought she was brilliant and an amazing film to watch.”

“A woman that experienced the same things.”

“Well it goes to show you can fall and get up again, and she’s a brilliant singer.”

“Excellent film. Good show of womanly strength.”

“How strong she was, to go through what she did, how she coped, and how she came out the other side.”

“Nice singer. I haven’t been to the cinema in years, my partner kept me in the house.”

They also told us what question they would ask Aretha if they could see her now:

“How did it feel when you got to the other side (got rid of demons)?”

“What made you strong enough to not let anyone control your life except you?”

“How can you get rid of childhood trauma?”

“You’re strong. One lovely lady.”

“Will you sing?”

One resident also sent in this feedback afterwards:

Emily Hill


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