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The face of courage is female

TV

The strength and endurance of women are beautifully celebrated – amid tears and laughter – in SABC3’s engaging new local doccie series, I Am Woman – Leap of Faith.

It is hosted by Lisa Chait, who is no stranger to the world of journalism. During her tenure on radio, she interviewed such spiritual authorities as Deepak Chopra, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Chaim Kramer, Sri Ravi Shankar and more, and now takes viewers on an emotionally uplifting journey through the experiences of several women from different walks of life.

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On the catalyst behind the documentary, Chait explains: “The SABC put out a pitch document a couple of years back. I read it and wrote a treatment for Plexus Films, which is run by filmmakers Lauren Groenewald and Miki Redelinghuys. As co-producers, we pitched it to the SABC. They liked the idea, but it took a few years to get the green light because of funding issues.”

That she is most proud of the series is evident in the way she talks about it.

Sharing more insight on the 26-part series, she says: “We look at women at the turning point in their lives where they have taken a leap of faith. It is a very broad category and it is not religious. The stories vary from a personal experience, or crisis, to illness-related stuff.”

In the first episode, viewers are introduced to Tracey Derrick, a renowned photographer and mother of two little girls who turned the camera on herself after she was diagnosed with cancer in May 2008.

“That is one of the amazing series. Tracey spent most of her life chronicling other people’s stories. She made two leaps: putting herself in front of the camera, which isn’t an easy step, and deciding on using natural medicine. The pictures she took, especially the physical ones, are extraordinary,” says Chait.

Each journey is different and Chait adds: “What may be an enormous leap for one may not be so for another.”

On how they selected the candidates for this series, Chait, who is a seasoned researcher, says: “Essentially, we wanted women who were able to express that they got to a point in their life and made a leap of faith.

“We didn’t set out with any set story ideas, but we have a surrogacy story, a cancer story, and a story about someone who left a high-paying job. Basically, we wanted women who, aside from being expressive, had a strong and interesting context.”

Given the stories she gets first-hand knowledge of, it isn’t easy for Chait to keep her emotions in check: “I cried during every interview. I have been in the game a long time, but this is incredibly moving. It isn’t just people speaking about the facts, but also about the emotions they developed.

“One such story is about a mother who had to let go of her daughter and say hello to a ‘son’.”

Working with an amazing and talented group of directors and crew, Chait says each episode will leave viewers deeply moved.

She continues: “I think they will be touched by the honest expression of the life journey of the women we have interviewed. The content is strong and beautiful. The stories are relatable and have common threads.”

While the tales of hum- anity are anchored in spiritual growth, they are a far cry from preachy. Expect to be cocooned by warmth, depth and inspiration.

• I Am Woman – Leap of Faith airs on SABC3 from April 1 at 11.30am.

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