Producer born on the bayou

resha Mabile has sweated through flaring temperatures and temperaments in war ravaged Baghdad, met with high-ranking KGB officials aboard a Russian submarine, chatted with fashionista Donatella Versace in Paris and received correspondence from Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unibomber, among the many international figures that have made their way into her documentaries.

“Being in Baghdad is easier than speaking in front of people,” the Chicago-based producer, Pierre Part native and 1989 Nicholls graduate told a group gathered at her alma mater Wednesday.

Speaking as part of the Bonnie J. Bourg lecture series in honor of women in history, Mabile, now in her 30s, described herself as a feminist belonging to a generation that “is truly reaping the benefits of a long and difficult struggle.”

The women’s movement has been a “huge success,” Mabile said, as women today have “so many options.”

In May, Mabile traveled to Iraq to make the documentary “After Saddam,” which has aired on the Discovery and Discovery Times channels.

She recounted certain details of her adventures traveling burqa-clad and in a 20-pound bulletproof vest throughout the male-dominated country.

Mabile said she was told to sit quietly so as not to incite violence, remain covered at all times. She quickly learned that relaxing after a stressful day with a beer (available only on the black market) could have cost her friend his life.

In secular Baghdad, however, women were relatively free, she said.

The women of Iraq, according to Mabile, like the rest of society “could feel freedom in their grasp” in the days following the toppling of the former dictator.

In May, she said, locals were “very grateful to the Americans” for having ousted Hussein.

They were “definitely much happier,” she said. Now however, with bombs and casualties mounting every day in Iraq, the situation appears increasingly hopeless.

Mabile advised aspiring journalists in the crowd that starting out small can mean big career gains in the future.

It is “so important to actually get bylines at a newspaper,” she said. Good internships, attention to international news and persistence are also essential.

“As small as an opportunity seems,” it can be good practice, she said.

Emilie Bahr can be reached at 448-7646 or by e-mail at 01. 2015 12:08PM