Movie Night at the Rafael: The Raft

Back in May, we had the pleasure of chatting with Mary and her son Memo Gidley on their race boat, the Elliott 1050 Basic Instinct, in Sausalito. Mary’s eight decades have been filled with salty adventures. “I never wanted a normal life,” she told us. We ran the first installment of our interview with her in Sightings in the June issue of Latitude 38. Among the tales she related to us was the story of her experience sailing on a raft that drifted across the Atlantic in 1973, a social experiment more than a recreation of early voyages.

The Raft
A black & white glossy of the raft from Mary Gidley’s photo collection.
© 2019 Roland Pfaff

The publicity material from Metrograph Pictures describes the adventure. “An international crew of six women and five men, chosen for their youth, diversity and sex appeal, embarked together on a most unusual sea voyage — a close-quarters, privacy-free trip across the Atlantic on a raft christened the Acali, initiated by the controversial Mexican anthropologist Santiago Genovés, who proposed to use the group as guinea pigs in his investigation of the origins (and erotics) of violent conflict. The Acali mission stayed afloat for 101 days.

“Now, more than 40 years later, surviving Acali crew members reunite to recollect their experience for filmmaker Marcus Lindeen. Extensive archival 16mm footage shot on-board the Acali shows us the subjects of The Raft as they were. The Acali crew members also dredge up their own memories of youthful journeys of self-doubt and self-determination, and of the unforgettable bonds that they formed both because of and in spite of Genovés’s power-mad macho muddling, which eventually threatens to put his test subjects in very real physical danger.”

The Raft will open at the Smith Rafael Film Center on Friday, June 28 at 7:15 p.m. Mary Gidley be on hand for a Q&A that evening and also at the screening on Saturday, June 29, at 7:15. Members of the Latitude 38 crew will be there on Friday the 28th. We’d love to see many of our readers there as well. Wear your Latitude 38 shirt, jacket or hat, and maybe we’ll assemble for a group photo. “There will be other screenings, including matinées, but we will schedule those closer to the date,” says Richard Peterson, director of programming at the Rafael. You’ll find the Rafael theater on Fourth Street between A and B Streets in downtown San Rafael. Hope to see you there!

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