Ohero:kon - Under the Husk

OHERO:KON - UNDER THE HUSK follows two Mohawk girls on their journey to become Mohawk women. Friends since childhood, Kaienkwinehtha and Kasennakohe are members of the traditional community of Akwesasne on the U.S./Canada border. Together, they undertake a four-year rite of passage for adolescents, called Oheró:kon, or “under the husk.” The ceremony had been nearly extinct, a casualty of colonialism and intergenerational trauma; revived in the past decade by two traditional leaders, it has since flourished. Filmmaker Katsitsionni Fox has served as a mentor, or “auntie,” to many youth going through the passage rites. In UNDER THE HUSK, Fox shares two girls’ journey through adolescence, as they rise to the tasks of Oheró:kon, learning traditional practices such as basket making and survival skills as well as contemporary teachings about sexual health and drug and alcohol prevention. UNDER THE HUSK is a personal story of a traditional practice challenging young girls spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, shaping the women they become.
Learn more

Siberian Love

In rural Siberia, romantic expectations are traditional and practical. The man is the head of the household. The woman takes care of the housekeeping and the children. But filmmaker Olga Delane doesn’t agree. While she was born in this small Siberian village, as a teenager she migrated to Berlin with her family, and 20 years of living in Germany has changed her expectations. SIBERIAN LOVE follows Delane home to her community of birth, where she interviews family and neighbors about their lives and relationships. Amusing and moving, this elegant film paints a picture of a world completely outside of technology, a hard-farming community where life is hard and marriage is sometimes unhappy—but where there are also unexpected paths to joy and family togetherness. Through clashing ideals of modern and traditional womanhood, SIBERIAN LOVE is a fascinating study of a country little known in the US and of a rural community that raises questions about domesticity, gender expectations, domestic abuse, childcare, and romance. Excellent for anthropology, women's studies, sociology, Russian and Eastern European Studies.
Learn more

Forgetting Vietnam

One of the myths surrounding the creation of Vietnam involves a fight between two dragons whose intertwined bodies fell into the South China Sea and formed Vietnam’s curving S-shaped coastline. Influential feminist theorist and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha’s lyrical film essay commemorating the 40th anniversary of the end of the war draws inspiration from ancient legend and from water as a force evoked in every aspect of Vietnamese culture. Minh-ha’s classic Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989) used no original footage shot in the country; in Forgetting Vietnam images of contemporary life unfold as a dialogue between land and water—the elements that form the term "country." Fragments of text and song evoke the echoes and traces of a trauma of international proportions. The encounter between the ancient as related to the solid earth, and the new as related to the liquid changes in a time of rapid globalization, creates a third space of historical and cultural re-memory—what local inhabitants, immigrants and veterans remember of yesterday’s stories to comment on today’s events.
Learn more

The Mosuo Sisters

A tale of two sisters living in the shadow of two Chinas, this documentary by award-winning filmmaker Marlo Poras (Mai’s America; Run Granny Run) follows Juma and Latso, young women from one of the world’s last remaining matriarchal societies. Thrust into the worldwide economic downturn after losing jobs in Beijing and left with few options, they return to their remote Himalayan village. But growing exposure to modernity has irreparably altered traditions of the Mosuo, their tiny ethnic miniority, and home is not the same. Determined to keep their family out of poverty, one sister sacrifices her educational dreams and stays home to farm, while the other leaves, trying her luck in the city. The changes test them in unexpected ways. This visually stunning film highlights today’s realities of women’s lives and China’s vast cultural and economic divides while offering rare views of a surviving matriarchy.
Learn more

Skydancer

Renowned for their balance and skill, six generations of Mohawk men have been leaving their families behind on the reservation to travel to New York City, to work on some of the biggest construction jobs in the world. Jerry McDonald Thundercloud and his colleague Sky shuttle between the hard drinking Brooklyn lodging houses they call home during the week and their rural reservation, a gruelling drive six hours north, where a family weekend awaits. Their wives are only too familiar with the sacrifices that their jobs have upon family life. While the men are away working, the women often struggle to keep their children away from the illegal temptations of this economically deprived area. Through archival documents and interviews, Academy Award®-nominated director Katja Esson (FERRY TALES, LATCHING ON) explores the colorful and at times tragic history of the Mohawk skywalkers, bringing us a nuanced portrait of modern Native American life and a visually stunning story of double lives.
Learn more

Duhozanye: A Rwandan Village of Widows

During the 1994 genocidal campaign that claimed the lives of an estimated 800,000 Rwandans and committed atrocities against countless others, Daphrose Mukarutamu, a Tutsi, lost her husband and all but two of her 11 children. In the aftermath she considered suicide. But instead, she took in 20 orphans and started Duhozanye, an association of Tutsi and Hutu widows who were married to Tutsi men. This powerful documentary by award-winning Norwegian director Karoline Frogner recounts the story of Duhozanye’s formation and growth - from a support group of neighbors who share their traumatic experiences, rebuild their homes, and collect and bury their dead, to an expanding member-driven network that advances the empowerment of Rwandan women. Featuring first-person accounts by Daphrose and other Duhozanye widows, the film shows association members helping women victims of rape and HIV/AIDS, running small businesses and classes in gender violence prevention, and taking part in national reconciliation through open-air people’s courts where they can face, and often forgive, their loved ones’ killers.
Learn more

Dish

Why do women bring your food at local diners, while in high-end establishments waiters are almost always men? DISH, by Maya Gallus, whose acclaimed GIRL INSIDE (2007) won Canada’s Gemini Award for documentary directing, answers this question in a delicious, well-crafted deconstruction of waitressing and our collective fascination with an enduring popular icon. Digging beyond the obvious, Gallus, who waited tables in her teens, explores diverse dynamics between food servers and customers, as well as cultural biases and attitudes they convey. Her feminist analysis climbs the socio-economic ladder—from the bustling world of lower-end eateries, where women prevail as wait staff, to the more genteel male-dominated sphere of haute cuisine. Astute, amusing observations from women on the job in Ontario’s truck stop diners, Montreal’s topless"sexy restos," a Parisian super-luxe restaurant, and Tokyo’s fantasy "maid cafés", as well as male customers’ telling comments, disclose how gender, social standing, earning opportunities, and working conditions intersect in the food service industry.
Learn more

Umoja

UMOJA (Kiswahili for “unity”) tells the life-changing story of a group of impoverished tribal Samburu women in Northern Kenya who turn age-old patriarchy on its head by setting up a women-only village. Their story began in the 1990s, when several hundred women accused British soldiers from a nearby military base of rape. In keeping with traditional Samburu customs, the women were blamed for this abuse and cast out by their husbands for bringing shame to their families. Learning of their plight, Rebecca Lolosoli, a tireless women’s rights advocate, helps the banished women establish a new village, Umoja, on an unoccupied field in the grass­lands. No men are allowed. Soon the women turn their fate around, launching a handicrafts business targeting the tourist trade. Their success and increasing fame incurs the men’s jealousy and wrath, setting off an unusual, occasionally hilarious, gender war. But in this award-winning documentary, which deftly blends fast-paced reportage with serious social critique, women who have reclaimed their lives clearly emerge the victors.
Learn more

The Korean Wedding Chest

Ulrike Ottinger’s provocative mélange of ethnography, stunning tableaux and baroque vignettes was inspired by what she calls the “well-stocked miracle” of Korean wedding chests, assembled according to time-honored customs. This exploration of love and marriage in South Korea looks closely at ancient and present-day rituals, revealing what is old in the new and new in the old. Her inquiry leads us from shamans, temples and priests, to the enchanted maze of 21st-century Seoul, where vendors of medicinal herbs co-exist with high-tech beauty salons for wedding couples and secular marriage palaces. Using film much like a canvas, Ottinger creates a modern fairytale flush with mythological heroes, traditional rites, ancestral symbolism, dreams of eternal love, and a whole lot of Western kitsch. One of her most acclaimed documentaries, it captures the amazing phenomenon of new mega-cities and their contradictory societies caught in a balancing act.
Learn more

The Women's Kingdom

Keepers of one of the last matriarchal societies in the world, Mosuo women in a remote area of southwest China live beyond the strictures of mainstream Chinese culture – enjoying great freedoms and carrying heavy responsibilities. Beautifully shot and featuring intimate interviews, this short documentary offers a rare glimpse into a society virtually unheard of 10 years ago and now often misrepresented in the media. Mosuo women control their own finances and do not marry or live with partners; they practice what they call "walking marriage." A man may be invited into a woman’s hut to spend a "sweet night," but must leave by daybreak. While tourism has brought wealth and 21st century conveniences to this remote area, it has also introduced difficult challenges to the Mosuo culture – from pollution in the lake, to the establishment of brothels, to mainstream ideas about women, beauty and family. This finely wrought film is a sensitive portrayal of extraordinary women struggling to hold on to their extraordinary society.
Learn more

Highway Courtesans

This provocative coming-of-age film chronicles the story of a bold young woman born into the Bachara community in Central India – the last hold-out of a tradition that started with India’s ancient palace courtesans and now survives with the sanctioned prostitution of every Bachara family’s oldest girl. Guddi, Shana and their neighbor Sungita serve a daily stream of roadside truckers to support their families. Their work as prostitutes forms the core of the local economy, but their contemporary ideas about freedom of choice, gender and self-determination slowly intrude on the Bachara way of life. HIGHWAY COURTESANS follows Guddi from the ages of 16 through 23 as she turns her world upside down, incurring the wrath of her fathers and brother as she struggles with tradition, family and love in hopes of realizing her dreams. In probing beyond the surface of a world of paradoxes, HIGHWAY COURTESANS resists easy moralizing and reveals the very real costs – financial, social and personal – for breaking with tradition. As a community hangs in the balance between traditional and contemporary values, this gripping documentary raises universal questions about sex, the roles of women, and the right of one culture to judge another.
Learn more

Paradise Lost

Arab Israeli filmmaker Ibtisam Salh Mara'ana grew up in Paradise (Fureidis in Arabic), a small fishing village overlooking the Mediterranean. One of the few Arab communities remaining after the 1948 war, Paradise became culturally and politically isolated as Jewish settlements sprung up around it, and today it is a place defined by silence and repression. This thought-provoking and intimate film diary follows the director’s attempt to recreate the village’s lost history, including the story of her childhood hero Suuad, the legendary local “bad girl” who was imprisoned as a PLO activist in the 1970’s and banished from the community. The director’s frustration builds as her questions are resisted, and her hopes soar when she finally meets Suuad, now a Doctor of Law living in the UK. Stunning cinematography and evocative music underscore the power of Mara’ana’s film, whose lyrical, emotionally charged tone is strikingly honest and straightforward. Presenting the rarely heard voice of an Arab Israeli, this important film offers valuable insight into the contradictions and complexities of modern womanhood and national identity in the Middle East.
Learn more

Children of the Crocodile

This documentary tells the story of two young Timorese-Australian activists – one a high profile human rights worker, the other a performance artist and lesbian – and their personal journey to further the cause of peace in the homeland they were forced to flee. Although merely infants when their families left East Timor to seek political asylum in Australia, Cidalia Pires and Elizabeth Exposto carry on their parents’ human rights work promoting the Timorese struggle. Their tireless activist efforts are documented through two amazing years in East Timor’s history - from the joy of voting for freedom in August 1999 to the rage at the destruction that followed and time of renewed commitment and hope. Their country’s independence fulfills their lifetime dream, but it also brings hard choices and painful returns for them both. Cidalia, in particular, faces the additional challenge of being an openly gay Timorese woman in a culture heavily steeped in tradition and conservative gender roles. CHILDREN OF THE CROCODILE tells a story which is personal yet universal - about ideals, identity, and the strength of an exile community that is committed to furthering the cause of peace in their native land.
Learn more

Runaway

“RUNAWAY is a powerful and heart-breaking documentary about a group of young runaway girls who are taken to a women's shelter in Tehran, Iran. The film focuses on the sufferings of young girls who struggle to free themselves from the tyrannical and abusive power of their families, mainly their fathers, brothers, and stepfathers. The sisterly feelings of the girls towards each other, their spiritual strength, their courage to rebel, and their wit are shown with a great degree of compassion and empathy in the film. The filmmakers have beautifully criticized the patriarchal system of family and the destructive power of male family members over the lives of their daughters and sisters. One can imagine that the issue of confinement and abuse goes beyond the issue of class when it comes to the problem of domestic violence and the desire to control women through anger, aggression and madness.” - Mehrnaz Saeed, Colombia College Chicago
Learn more

Nu Shu: A Hidden Language of Women in China

In feudal China, women, usually with bound feet, were denied educational opportunities and condemned to social isolation. But in Jian-yong county in Hunan province, peasant women miraculously developed a separate written language, called Nu Shu, meaning "female writing." Believing women to be inferior, men disregarded this new script, and it remained unknown for centuries. It wasn't until the 1960s that Nu Shu caught the attention of Chinese authorities, who suspected that this peculiar writing was a secret code for international espionage. Today, interest in this secret script continues to grow, as evidenced by the wide critical acclaim of Lisa See’s recent novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, about Nu Shu. NU SHU: A HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF WOMEN IN CHINA is a thoroughly engrossing documentary that revolves around the filmmaker's discovery of eighty-six-year-old Huan-yi Yang, the only living resident of the Nu Shu area still able to read and write Nu Shu. Exploring Nu Shu customs and their role in women's lives, the film uncovers a women's subculture born of resistance to male dominance, finds a parallel struggle in the resistance of Yao minorities to Confucian Han Chinese culture, and traces Nu Shu's origins to some distinctly Yao customs that fostered women's creativity.
Learn more

Visitors of the Night

The failures of the ethnographic endeavor to discover “reality” are revealed in this expository and experimental film. The narrator-ethnographer embarks on an expedition to encounter the Mosuo, an isolated and matrilinear tribe in the mountains of South West China. Their society is built on the principle of the axia-relationship, ties between ‘visitors of the night.’ This means that a man only stays in his wife’s house at night and during the day he works for the benefit of his grandmother. Since men and women do not have economical obligations, their unique, polyandric relationships are based on love only. Recently due to funding by the Han government, The Lugu region has turned into a major touristic area, where tradition and modernity clash -- particularly when the polyandry of the Mosuo is seen as prostitution by outsiders. Van Dienderen, a visual anthropologist, playfully reveals the distance between textual knowledge and the experience of a cinematographic journey in a thoughtful and fascinating documentary.
Learn more

A Place Called Home

Persheng Sadegh-Vaziri grew up in pre-Revolution Tehran daydreaming about an ideal life in the West. Nineteen years later, after living and working in the U.S., Persheng explores her controversial decision to move back to Iran, to return to the place she never stopped calling home. In this fascinating and very personal documentary, Persheng's interviews with her family--with her mother and sister in the U.S. and with her father, who chose to remain in Iran--reveal some of the complex layers of expatriate, national and cultural identities. The film features a rare glimpse at women's lives in contemporary Tehran.
Learn more

Divorce Iranian Style

Hilarious, tragic, stirring, this fly-on-the-wall look at several weeks in an Iranian divorce court provides a unique window into the intimate circumstances of Iranian women’s lives. Following Jamileh, whose husband beats her; Ziba, a 16-year-old trying to divorce her 38-year-old husband; and Maryam, who is desperately fighting to gain custody of her daughters, this deadpan chronicle showcases the strength, ingenuity, and guile with which they confront biased laws, a Kafaka-esque administrative system, and their husbands’ and families’ rage to gain divorces. With the barest of commentary, acclaimed director Kim Longinotto turns her cameras on the court and lets it tell its own story. Dispelling images of Iran as a country of war, hostages, and “fatwas”, and Iranian women as passive victims of a terrible system, this film is a subtle, fascinating look at women’s lives in a country which is little known to most Americans. Directed by Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini, author of MARRIAGE ON TRIAL: A STUDY OF ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW.
Learn more

In My Father's House

In this beautiful, poetic and deeply personal film, Moroccan filmmaker Fatima Jebli Ouazzani investigates the status accorded women in Islamic marriage customs and the continuing importance of virginity. Ouazzani left her father’s house in Morocco sixteen years ago to escape the constraints her culture and its traditions have put on women. She returns now to confront those traditions, her own family and herself. Following three generations of women — her grandmother and mothers’ arranged marriages, her grandmother’s subsequent attempts to divorce, and Naima, a young woman who has returned home for a traditional wedding ceremony—she questions whether her choice for a life of her own was worth the loss of her father. Jebli Ouazzani offers us a rare glimpse of the shifts and changes in Moroccan and Islamic culture in this powerful, moving film.
Learn more

Out of Phoenix Bridge

This groundbreaking work from Li Hong, China’s first independent female documentarian, follows two years in the lives of four young women from the countryside who have come to Beijing for jobs. Although they work long hours as maids or street vendors and share a tiny room no bigger than a closet, they savor these years— between living as a daughter at home and returning to the village to marry —as probably the freest time of their lives. Documenting both her deepening relationship with these women and the gulf of experiences and opportunity that separate them, Hong carefully charts their hopes for a better future and dreams of self-determination. In interviews and intimate footage, Hong elicits remarkably candid and complex testimony from her subjects as they frankly discuss their work, pressures from home, and experiences with men. A remarkable achievement, this touching film is a fascinating look at the lives of women whose experiences are rarely explored. As they straddle traditional and modern roles, their stories uniquely exemplify the conflicts between the swift changes in women’s roles occurring in China and around the developing world.
Learn more

Jenny and Jenny

This moving, closely observed portrait of adolescence documents one summer in the lives of two 17 year old cousins named Jenny. As North African Jewish immigrants living on Israel's working class Mediterranean coast, the girls' changing environment provides a fascinating window into a culture both religious and secular. In struggling towards self-definition, their experiences embody universal concerns of young women. An intimate look at the cousins at school, at home, and with friends, JENNY AND JENNY sensitively depicts the fragility and power of girls moving towards womanhood.
Learn more

The Hidden Story

Its title referring both to women's hidden lives and the hidden work of creating ethnographic realities, this nuanced look at the lives of four rural Indian women paints a portrait of survival and advancement against great odds. Examining the lives of women tenant farmers, it depicts women balancing resistance and activism with a deep commitment to diverse myths and traditions. As scenes of India's changing urban and rural landscapes mingle with candid interviews and first-person narration, this perceptive film showcases how issues of class, education, and political consciousness shape documentary practice and women's circumstances.
Learn more

Girls Still Dream

In this engrossing new documentary, award-winning filmmaker Ateyyat El Abnoudy realistically portrays the challenges facing girls in a country where one in four marries before age sixteen and one in five ever attends school. While girls both in and out of school share ambitions ranging from becoming a doctor to attaining basic reading skills, parents express mixed feelings about education's relevance. An affecting view of how Egyptian women still struggle for such basic human rights as education and the avoidance of compulsory marriage, GIRLS STILL DREAM highlights the cultural clash between traditional values and young women's growing self-awareness in the developing world.
Learn more

Women's Lives and Choices

This important and timely series deals with women's health and the social, cultural and economic factors underlying reproductive choices. VENTRE LIVRE (Ana Luiza Azevedo) paints a grim picture of life for women in Brazil where sterilization and abortion are often the only forms of birth control available. RISHTE (Manjira Datta) explores the practice of male sex preference in India and its ramifications for women. THE DESIRED NUMBER (by the award-winning director of THE BODY BEAUTIFUL Ngozi Onwurah) uses the Ibu Eze ceremony in Nigeria to highlight how family planning issues often conflict with traditional family values. The series was produced by Daniel Riesenfeld for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Learn more

Halving the Bones

Skeletons in the closet? HALVING THE BONES delivers a surprising twist to this tale. This cleverly-constructed film tells the story of Ruth, a half-Japanese filmmaker living in New York, who has inherited a can of bones that she keeps on a shelf in her closet. The bones are half of the remains of her dead Japanese grandmother, which she is supposed to deliver to her estranged mother. A narrative and visual web of family stories, home movies and documentary footage, HALVING THE BONES provides a spirited exploration of the meaning of family, history and memory, cultural identity and what it means to have been named after Babe Ruth!
Learn more

The Desired Number

THE DESIRED NUMBER uses the Ibu Eze ceremony in Nigeria to highlight how family planning issues often conflict with traditional family values. Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, yet has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. The Ibu Eze ceremony, which celebrates women who have given birth to large numbers of children, is perhaps the only recognition a woman will receive for her efforts. Contrasting with the festivities are views of community members who raise the idea that praising large families without considering quality of life is not necessarily a blessing for women.
Learn more

Sweating Indian Style

The appropriation of Native American traditions by non-Natives comes under thoughtful scrutiny in this insightful documentary. As it follows the New Age activities of a group of Californian women learning to construct a sweat lodge and perform their own ceremony, it raises important questions about the use of elements of Native culture out of context, apart from the complex realities of American Indian experience. Interviews with diverse Native American women point out the problems inherent in this increasingly popular New Age phenomenon and its relationship to traditional forms of colonialism.
Learn more

Warrior Marks

WARRIOR MARKS is a poetic and political film about female genital mutilation from the director of A PLACE OF RAGE, presented by the Pulitzer Prize winning author of THE COLOR PURPLE and POSSESSING THE SECRET OF JOY. Female genital mutilation affects one hundred million of the world’s women and this remarkable film unlocks some of the cultural and political complexities surrounding this issue. Interviews with women from Senegal, Gambia, Burkino Faso, the United States and England who are concerned with and affected by genital mutilation are intercut with Walker’s own personal reflections on the subject.
Learn more

Dream Girls

This fascinating documentary, produced for the BBC, opens a door into the spectacular world of the Takarazuka Revue, a highly successful musical theater company in Japan. Each year, thousands of girls apply to enter the male-run Takarazuka Music School. The few who are accepted endure years of a highly disciplined and reclusive existence before they can join the Revue, choosing male or female roles. DREAM GIRLS offers a compelling insight into gender and sexual identity and the contradictions experienced by Japanese women today.
Learn more

Monday’s Girls

This fascinating documentary, by the filmmaker of THE BODY BEAUTIFUL, follows two young Nigerian women’s different experiences of a traditional rite of passage. Young virgins, irabo, spend five weeks in “fattening rooms”, emerging to dance before the villagers and to be married. The girls wear heavy copper coils on their legs to enforce inactivity as they are waited on and honored by their families. One of the young village women, Florence, is keen to take part. But Akisiye, who returns from the city at her father’s behest, is not certain she wants to. Combining voice-over and interviews, MONDAY'S GIRLS documents tradition, modernity, dissent and contradiction in African women’s lives.
Learn more

Amazon Sisters

AMAZON SISTERS portrays the vision and strength of women surviving in the hotly contested Amazon rainforests. While international attention has focused on saving the rainforests, considerably less attention has been paid to the plight of the human inhabitants of Amazonia. Women are at the frontline of the struggle to save their environment and to rebuild a region suffering the effects of inappropriate development. “A film which beautifully expresses the strength, humor and ability of the women of the Amazon Region. It sharply reminds us, however, that simply feeling romantic about rainforests isn’t enough. The need for serious support for both the environment and the health and safety of the people there is made abundantly clear.” —Margaret Prosser, National Women’s Secretary Transport and General Workers Union.
Learn more

Sidet: Forced Exile

During the past two decades, more than two million refugees have left Ethiopia. Famine, poverty and political strife as well as the religious persecution caused by Eritrea’s annexation have already cost countless lives. Narrated by Salem Mekuria, an Ethiopian filmmaker in the US, this lucid documentary presents the life stories of three women refugees in neighboring Sudan. It traces the attempts of individual women to survive displacement, resettlement camps and ineffectual bureaucracy. An astute, politically sophisticated analysis of social and economic crisis from the perspective of Third World women.
Learn more

Knowing Her Place

A moving investigation of the cultural schizophrenia experienced by Vasu, an Indian woman who has spent most of her life in the U.S. Vasu's relationships with her mother and grandmother in India and her husband and teenage sons in New York, reveal profound conflicts between her traditional upbringing and her personal and professional aspirations. The film fuses photographs, vérité sequences and experimental techniques to probe the multilayered experience of immigrant women with rare candor and emotional resonance. Useful for courses on immigration, sex roles and the study of documentary form.
Learn more

Hidden Faces

Originally intended as a film about internationally renowned feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi, HIDDEN FACES develops into a fascinating portrayal of Egyptian women’s lives in Muslim society. In this collaborative documentary, Safaa Fathay, a young Egyptian woman living in Paris, returns home to interview the famed writer and activist, but becomes disillusioned with her. Illuminated by passages from El Saadawi’s work, the film follows Fathay’s journey to her family home and discovers similar complex frictions between modernity and tradition. Her mother’s decision to return to the veil after twenty years and her cousins’ clitoridectomies reveal a disturbing renewal of fundamentalism. This absorbing documentary broaches the contradictions of feminism in a Muslim environment; a startling, unforgettable picture of contemporary women in the Arab world.
Learn more

...And Woman Wove It in a Basket

For the Klickitat Indians in Oregon, basketweaving is a way of reclaiming native forms and heritage. This evocative portrayal of basketweaver Nettie Jackson Kuneki and her family explores Klickitat river culture within an investigation of documentary practice and cultural preservation. Capturing native life as experienced by a contemporary Klickitat woman, the film presents her daily activities through seasonal changes, the documentation of her craft and a visual history of Indian tales and legends. Voices of the filmmakers' own quest supplement Kuneki's reflections, creating a unique tapestry of personal memory and cultural collaboration that is invaluable for ethnographic film studies, Native American collections and women's studies.
Learn more

Eat the Kimono

EAT THE KIMONO is a brilliant documentary about Hanayagi Genshu, a Japanese feminist and avant-garde dancer and performer, who has spent her life defying her conservative culture’s contempt for independence and unconventionality. She denounced Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal, and dismissed death threats made against her by right-wing groups. “You mustn’t be eaten by the kimono,” says Genshu, making reference to the traditional Japanese dress designed to restrict movement for women, “You must eat the kimono, and gobble it up.” From the directors of THE GOOD WIFE OF TOKYO and HIDDEN FACES.
Learn more

Beirut: The Last Home Movie

BEIRUT: THE LAST HOME MOVIE is an imaginative film which challenges documentary form and concepts of reality by exposing a personal response to a global event—three months in the life of a Lebanese family living in a heavily-bombed Beirut neighborhood. This extraordinary film captures the real-life experiences of a family living in one of the most chaotic wars in history and provides insight into the psychology of war, 20th century-style. It also reveals the power of cinema verité at its best: a seemingly simple recording of everyday life becomes a fascinating, complex and many-layered look at the connections between personal and political lives.
Learn more

Navajo Talking Picture

In NAVAJO TALKING PICTURE film student Arlene Bowman (Navajo) travels to the Reservation to document the traditional ways of her grandmother. The filmmaker persists in spite of her grandmother's forceful objections to this invasion of her privacy. Ultimately, what emerges is a thought-provoking work which abruptly calls into question issues of "insider/outsider" status in a portrait of an assimilated Navajo struggling to use a "white man's" medium to capture the remnants of her cultural past. Excellent for film studies as well as those interested in Native American culture.
Learn more

Black Women of Brazil

Despite official jargon to the contrary, Brazilians live in a racially segregated class system. This upbeat, sensitive and elegantly composed documentary, produced by Lilith Video Collective, looks at the ways Black women have coped with racism while validating their lives through their own music and religion.
Learn more

Miss Universe in Peru

Shot during the Miss Universe contest hosted by Peru in 1982, this documentary juxtaposes the glamour of the pageant with the realities of Peruvian women’s lives, while providing a critique of multinational corporate interest in the universal commodification of women. Grupo Chaski is a collective engaged in video production in Peru and is deeply committed to women’s equality and participation in society.
Learn more

Naked Spaces

Shot with stunning elegance and clarity, NAKED SPACES explores the rhythm and ritual of life in the rural environments of six West African countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkino Faso, Togo, Benin and Senegal). The nonlinear structure of NAKED SPACES challenges the traditions of ethnographic filmmaking, while sensuous sights and sounds lead the viewer on a poetic journey to the most inaccessible parts of the African continent: the private interaction of people in their living spaces.
Learn more

Reassemblage

Women are the focus but not the object of Trinh T. Minh-ha’s influential first film, a complex visual study of the women of rural Senegal. Through a complicity of interaction between film and spectator, REASSEMBLAGE reflects on documentary filmmaking and the ethnographic representation of cultures. “With uncanny eloquence, REASSEMBLAGE distills sounds and images of Senegalese villagers and their surroundings to reconsider the premises and methods of ethnographic filmmaking. By disjunctive editing and a probing narration this ‘documentary’ strikingly counterpoints the authoritative stance typical of the National Geographic approach.” — Laura Thielan
Learn more

Mother of Many Children

Composed of a series of vignettes featuring Native women from different first nations, this classic work by Alanis Obomsawin, an Abenaki, reflects a proud matriarchal culture that for centuries has been pressured to adopt the values and traditions of white society. By tracing the cycle of Native women's lives from birth to childhood, puberty, young adulthood, maturity and old age, the film shows how Native women have struggled to regain a sense of equality, instilled cultural pride in their children and passed on their stories and language to younger generations. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada.
Learn more
Shopping Cart