‘Hot Flash Havoc’ hits big screen
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
ASPEN – An Aspen woman has taken her battle with menopause to the big screen.
And, with the number of menopausal women worldwide expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2015 (according to the film’s promoters), she shouldn’t have any trouble finding an audience.
“Hot Flash Havoc,” inspired by Aspen real estate broker Heidi Houston’s experiences and her determination to better inform women, saw its nationwide release in selected markets last week. Sunday and Wednesday, the documentary will show at Movieland in El Jebel.
Houston, executive producer of the film as well as its producer, along with Gary Jaffe, does not have an on-screen role in the documentary but said she’s been integrally involved in the behind-the-scenes work. And she was there at its inception, making a deal with a doctor to produce a documentary in exchange for an appointment that would finally lead to the proper treatment of her symptoms.
Houston said she spent three years battling a range of health woes that, as it turned out, were all related to menopause or its precursor, perimenopause – the transitional period that leads to menopause.
“I didn’t have any hot flashes. I had things like joint pain, heart palpitations, mood swings, headaches … things like that,” she said.
Physicians recommended a range of treatments for the symptoms, but it wasn’t until Houston heard Tucson physician Dr. Elizabeth Vliet speak in Aspen that she found someone who knew how to address the underlying cause of her problems.
“She started rattling off symptoms that no one ever relates to menopause and I’m saying, ‘Oh my god, that’s me,'” Houston recalled.
At a reception after the talk, Vliet spoke of the challenges in getting the word out about menopause and a woman’s options, suggesting someone should make a decent documentary on the topic.
“I said, if you see me next week, I’ll make a documentary,” Houston said.
Vliet, author of “It’s My Ovaries, Stupid!” and other books, participated in the making of the film along with 39 other experts and a host of women who relate their own stories.
“We wanted to do a documentary that was entertaining, wasn’t boring…and made you laugh a little bit,” Houston said.
An earlier version screened at Aspen Filmfest in the fall of 2010.
The film, directed by Marc Bennett, and written and narrated by Marnie Inskip, has been re-edited. Now 88 minutes long, it was shown in a series of private screenings before its general release by Angry Monkey Entertainment and won the 2011 AASECT Award for Best Audio Visual for Sexual Health from the American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists.
The documentary has the power to save marriages, Houston contends, and women aren’t the only ones who’ve found “Hot Flash Havoc” informative.
“We have as many men who think this is fascinating as women,” she said.
According to Houston, 75 percent of menopausal women lose interest in sex.
“They don’t know why it is. They’re not interested, but they don’t want to talk about it,” she said.
But the women interviewed in the documentary talk about their sex lives and more with candor and humor.
“Hot Flash Havoc” also confronts the use of hormone therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause. The practice became controversial following a widely-discredited 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study that led women to dump their estrogen-replacement medications and, in some cases, jeopardize their own well-being.
Clips from “Hot Flash Havoc” are popping up on YouTube and TV news reports, and the film is gaining media attention as its distribution broadens. Go to http://www.hotflashhavoc.net to order the DVD, request a screening or find out more about a film the Los Angeles Times called a “vital and enlightening documentary.”
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