Meeting up with Cynthia Salzman Mondell
Women and shoes, that mysterious intimate relationship has amazed many men and surely women, including myself. Personally, I believe that shoes don’t only show your status or taste, but it conveys a part of your personality as well. Just like jewelry, women always pay loads of attention when choosing the right pair for them. I heard somewhere that most women spend more time on choosing shoes than the time they spend when trying to find their other half. Sounds exaggerating? Maybe!
Cynthia Salzman Mondell, an award-winning filmmaker, has decided to create a feature documentary, entitled “Sole Sisters”, exploring the relationship between women and their shoes and trying to collect stories from women all over the world. The crew behind Sole Sisters are reaching out for Arab women and are eager to listen to women’s stories with their shoes. I have had this interview with Cynthia, the movie director to know more about the project.
How did the idea of the movie originate?
While my mom was dying of pancreatic cancer, a pair of unworn, brand new, ruby red high heels sat by her bedside. Those shoes offered her an escape from a sick bed where she was attached to a morphine drip to ease her pain.
She fantasized about dancing in a healthy body that enjoyed every musical beat. When my sister and I cleaned out her closet, we were overwhelmed by the prospect of packing up over 75 pairs of genuine leather shoes.
As we organized all those heels and flats, a question stuck with me:
Why was my Mom along with so many other women obsessed with shoes?
What is it about shoes that make a woman feel special?
Why do shoes establish a woman’s identity?
Why shoes in specific?
Shoes are an accessory that tells about a woman’s soul – where she has been, where she is and where she is going. Every shoe has a story and every woman has both.
As a woman who believes in “giving back” and the necessity of public service, how do you see “The Sole Sisters” relate to this idea of giving back to your community?
Our mission is to challenge stereotypes and empower, celebrate, and uplift women of all ages, ethnicity, orientation and walks of life. We have collected stories from girls and women in shelters, senior centers, girls clubs, Neiman Marcus, prison…. to name a few places. Every woman who shares her story feels like she is being heard. We are giving a voice to women everywhere.
Do you think that Arab women will be willing to share their shoe stories?
Arab women love shoes. They love pretty things. They have the same hopes and dreams as other women. They want their stories to be heard. The project aims to include and connect all women for all backgrounds.
I know that there will be a confessional at the Dallas Museum of Art. What about women out of Dallas, how will the confessions go?
The SHOE CONFESSIONAL is just one way we are collecting stories.I would love to be invited outside Dallas with it. It is a beautiful structure, built by a group of talented volunteers. Women love the Confessional. There is something magical about it.
Can you share your own shoe story with Sans Retouches readers?
My shoe story is that when I started the project I was struck with osteoarthritis that was extremely painful. I don’t take medication, so I endured the pain.I started limping and couldn’t wear any of my beautiful shoes. I was depressed. I was embarrassed the way I walked and the way I looked. Thanks to Modern Science, I had a hip replacement and am fine and slowly getting back to wearing my shoes.
Thanks Cynthia for the great interview. Best of luck with your film!