Women in Fish
Women in Fish, an urbanink production from Vancouver, was inspired by the true survival story of Eileen Lorenz. In 1962, the Loretta B., a fishing boat, sank in a violent storm and five men and one woman drowned in the sea off the Gulf Islands in B.C. The tragedy was one of many but in this one Eileen Lorenz survived. It was her 18th birthday and she was pregnant.
In the tumult of the storm her husband Jim tied her to the fish crate to keep her afloat, but he, along with the others, were lost to sea. She suffered the ordeal for six hours before she was rescued.
The scene opens with Rosemary and Mary sitting at home, as silent witnesses to the story, which is portrayed on a large screen behind them. At the same time the documentary is presented, radio reports interrupt periodically updating the news of the disaster.
The sound effects of the storm, the powerful waves and of humans drowning is quite unsettling and disturbing in its reality. A woman writer, drowned underwater, is writing the story on a typewriter, “trying to change the outcome.”
Voices of others in the documentary can be heard through images of people and sounds of massive, thunderous waves, explaining how fishing is a way of life, even for girls and women. Women worked in the cannery and girls, as young as 13 years, also went to work at the cannery after school. They grew up with it and no one questioned any other way to live. The story reveals the important contributions that women played in this once-top industry.
It also laments the great loss of the fishing industry. The voices heard recall how plentiful the fish and other seafood were when they were children but now, the big companies had depleted the stock. They blame simple greed.
At the end, the struggles of Eileen to hang on to the rope or “line”—“a line to something other than yourself, something longer,” was special to this story. When the rescue boat came, they threw her a line and she pulled herself over. It was symbolic of the future; the continuation of life—in the baby.