October 19, 2017
By: Natalie Dignam

Imagine a woman signing up to be a makeup sales agent. You may even know a friend or family member who sells beauty products over Facebook and Instagram. Now imagine a woman in rural Newfoundland riding her ATV to friends and neighbors homes to fill orders for Avon products and (of course) to sit down for a chat and a cup of tea.

Rhonda Buckley wrote, directed and produced Avon Ladies Rural Style, a short film that will be screened on Friday, October 20 as part of the St. John’s Women’s Film Festival. In the film, she talks with women in rural Newfoundland who were Avon sales agents. When it came to selling makeup, these women didn’t let winter weather or challenging terrain hold them back. In fact, they were the top Avon agents in Canada.

Buckley’s work has been focused on Newfoundland stories and, specifically, women’s stories. In this film, Buckley is able to show the hardiness and resourcefulness of Newfoundland’s women.

“I believe women in Newfoundland are singlehandedly small business owners,” Buckley said in reference to how successfully these women were able to take on the role of sales agents. “Whether they’re helping or running a fish plant or working selling in a small store, they are constantly running their own business and managing their own finances. It takes a lot of resourcefulness to be in an area where you don’t always have full services to everything- so you know how to get lumber in to fix your wharf, you know how to get the siding put on your house,” Buckley said.

Even with the many conveniences Newfoundlanders have in both rural and urban areas today, Buckley said that resourcefulness remains. “I have a real love of rural Newfoundland women and how strong they are and how hard they work,” she said.

Although Buckley considered including more political material about women controlling their looks and society’s reaction, such as clips of famous women or news clips, she opted to retain her focus on the women she had interviewed. “I decided that the most political film I could make was to have honest testimonials of women from rural Newfoundland who were confident about how women should be treated. Unshakably, they say to young women and women in general; love yourself, you are important, your look is your own,” said Buckley.

Currently, Buckley is working on a documentary about famous Newfoundland lounge singer Joan Morrissey. She’ll also be broadening her scope in another film called Freedom 95, which will explore the changing demographics of our world and the consequences of an aging population. By 2020, two-thirds of North Americans will be over 55.

Avon Ladies Rural Style will be screened along with 8 other shorts at the LSPU Hall on Friday, October 20. To purchase your ticket (a single ticket will give you admission to all the short films that night), visit http://rca.nf.ca/event/sjiwff28-presents-cbc-friday-night-shorts/.