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Women's Studies


Women's Studies



93QUEEN

By Paula Eiselt

93QUEEN follows Rachel "Ruchie" Freier, a no-nonsense Hasidic lawyer and mother of six who is determined to shake up the boys club in her Hasidic community by creating Ezras Nashim, the first all-female ambulance corps in NYC.

In the Hasidic enclave of Borough Park, Brooklyn, EMS corps have long been the province of men. Though the neighborhood is home to the largest volunteer ambulance corps in the world known as Hatzolah, that organization has steadfastly banned women from its ranks. Now Ruchie and an engaging cast of dogged Hasidic women are risking their reputations, and the futures of their children, by taking matters into their own hands to provide dignified emergency medical care to the Hasidic women and girls of Borough Park. In a society where most women don't drive - and a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death - how do female EMTs transport themselves to the scene of an emergency? And how does Ezras Nashim combat a behemoth like Hatzolah, which possesses political clout throughout New York City?

With unprecedented and exclusive access, 93QUEEN follows the formation and launch of Ezras Nashim through the organization's first year on the ground. We witness the highs and lows of creating an organization against incredible odds, as well as the women's struggles to "have it all" as wives and mothers. And in the midst of this already ground-breaking endeavor, Ruchie announces that she had decided to take her burgeoning feminism even further when she enters the race for civil court judge in Brooklyn's 5th Municipal Court District. Through it all, we see Ruchie and the other women grappling to balance their faith with their nascent feminism, even as they are confronted by the patriarchal attitudes that so dominate Hasidic society. As Ruchie observes, while making dinner at 3 a.m., "I sometimes wonder why God created me a woman. If I'd have been born a Hasidic man, I don't think I would have half the problems I have."


DVD (Color) / 2018 / 90 minutes

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JAMILIA

By Aminatou Echard

This mesmerizing film, shot in Kyrgyzstan on richly saturated Super-8 footage, is a search for Jamilia, the title character in that country's famous novel by Chinghiz Aitmatov, about a young woman who rebels against the strict rules of her society.

Over the course of its haunting narrative, director Aminatou Echard introduces contemporary Kyrgyz women who, in talking about this literary heroine, reveal their own private lives and desires, the social rules they chafe under and their ideas of freedom.

Jamilia portrays Kyrgyzstan through the prism of these women's stories. They describe what their lives are like in a country where the patriarchal system may see them kidnapped by would-be suitors, and curbs their freedom to work, desire, love, live and dream.

Jamilia lets the women speak for themselves - about resistance and the freedom they find in unexpected places, despite the restraints and limitations imposed upon them. With dreamy pacing and a shifting relationship to time, the film gives viewers access to its subjects' desire for adventure, rebellion, independence and sensuality.


DVD (Kyrgistan, Russian, Uzbek, English, With English Subtitles, Color, Closed Captioned) / 2018 / 84 minutes

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PRIMAS

By Laura Bari

PRIMAS is an evocative and poetic portrait of two Argentine teenage cousins who come of age together as they overcome the heinous acts of violence that interrupted their childhoods.

When Rocio was 10 years old, she was dragged from her bike by a stranger, raped, set on fire and left for dead. Now a teenager, she still grapples with memories of the nightmarish assault that left her body scarred. Together with her cousin Aldana, who was sexually abused for years by her own father, she lives, laughs and shares her story. Traveling through Argentina and Montreal, the two cousins embark upon a program of theater, dance, and circus that helps them process complex emotions. Little by little, they manage to rebuild the lives that were so brutally stolen from them and free themselves from the shadows of their past.

A humanistic exploration of familial love, creativity, and courage in the wake of sexual violence, PRIMAS is a moving tribute to the deep strength of resilient women.


DVD (Color, Spanish) / 2018 / 95 minutes

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REST I MAKE UP, THE

By Michelle Memran

The visionary Cuban-American dramatist and educator Maria Irene Fornes spent her career constructing astonishing worlds onstage and teaching countless students how to connect with their imaginations. When she gradually stops writing due to dementia, an unexpected friendship with filmmaker Michelle Memran reignites her spontaneous creative spirit and triggers a decade-long collaboration that picks up where the pen left off.

The duo travels from New York to Havana, Miami to Seattle, exploring the playwright's remembered past and their shared present. Theater luminaries such as Edward Albee, Ellen Stewart, Lanford Wilson, and others weigh in on Fornes's important contributions. What began as an accidental collaboration becomes a story of love, creativity, and connection that persists even in the face of forgetting.


DVD (Color) / 2018 / 79 minutes

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THOUSAND GIRLS LIKE ME, A

By Sahra Mani

A THOUSAND GIRLS LIKE ME is an awe-inspiring verite documentary that tells the story of a young Afghan woman's fight for justice after experiencing years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father.

Khatera Golzad was brutally raped by her father for thirteen years, resulting in numerous pregnancies, most of which ended in forced abortions. But two reached full term. Despite her many attempts to file charges, neither the Afghan police nor the legal system helped her. In 2014, she appeared on national television to publicly accuse her father, finally succeeding in bringing her case to court despite threats from male relatives and judges who labelled her a liar.

A THOUSAND GIRLS LIKE ME sheds light on the broken Afghan judicial system and the women it seldom protects. In a country where the systematic abuse of girls is rarely discussed, Afghan filmmaker Sahra Mani presents a story of one woman's battle against cultural, familial, and legal pressures as she embarks on a mission to set a positive example for her daughter and other girls like her.


DVD (Color) / 2018 / 52 minutes

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YOURS IN SISTERHOOD

By Irene Lusztig

YOURS IN SISTERHOOD is a performative, participatory documentary inspired by the breadth and complexity of letters that were sent in the 1970s to the editor of Ms.- America's first mainstream feminist magazine. The film documents hundreds of strangers from around the U.S. who were invited to read aloud and respond to these letters written by women, men and children from diverse backgrounds. Collectively, the letters feel like an encyclopedia of both the 70s and the women's movement- an almost literal invocation of the second-wave feminist slogan "the personal is political." The intimate, provocative, and sometimes heartbreaking conversations that emerge from these performances invite viewers to think about the past, present, and future of feminism.


DVD (Color) / 2018 / 101 minutes

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62 DAYS

By Rebecca Haimowitz

62 DAYS is an emotional short film that tells the story of a brain-dead pregnant woman whose family was forced to keep her on life support against their will. Marlise Munoz was 33 years old and 14 weeks pregnant with her second child when she suffered a pulmonary embolism and was pronounced brain-dead in a hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. She and her husband Erick had discussed their end-of-life wishes and Marlise was clear: she did not want to be on mechanical support under any circumstances. But Marlise was kept alive because of a little-known law that states "a person may not withdraw or withhold life-sustaining treatmentíK from a pregnant patient." The film reveals that this is not an anomaly: there are currently 32 states (and counting) with similar or identical pregnancy exclusion policies.

The Munoz' story is the jumping-off point for an urgent examination of a growing trend of laws that seek to control a pregnant woman's body. Following this family as they journey from private loss, to unwanted media attention, and finally towards activism as they fight to change this law, 62 DAYS powerfully addresses critical issues surrounding bodily integrity and women's health.


DVD (Color) / 2017 / 29 minutes

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BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY

By Civia Tamarkin

BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY is the real-life version of "The Handmaid's Tale." In America today, a radical movement has tightened its grip on state power, seeking to control whether and how women bear children. In this crusade, pregnant women are subject to state control, surveillance, and punishment. Even women who don't want an abortion face shocking risks - like the pregnant woman in Alabama who faced criminal charges for taking half a Valium. Or like the grieving woman in Nebraska who, already devastated by a bleak diagnosis at 22 weeks, was forced to continue an unviable and dangerous pregnancy because of a new "fetal pain" law. BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY tells these stories of women caught up in a frightening new legal system, which criminalizes and physically violates women, threatens our lives, and challenges our constitutional protections.


DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2017 / 100 minutes

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BREAKING SILENCE

By Nadya Ali

Three Muslim women share their stories of sexual assault - and, in a deeply personal way, they challenge the stigma that has long suppressed the voice of survivors. Throughout America, many Muslim communities persist in stigmatizing all discussion of sex-related subjects. Even though sexual assault and abuse are widespread, conversations about it are rare - and the pressure for victims and their families to "keep it a secret" helps perpetuate abuse. BREAKING SILENCE takes a radical and humanizing approach to the emotional scars of sexual assault, giving women the space to share their voices without shame. Deepened by the perspectives of Imam Khalid Latif of The Islamic Center at NYU, the film challenges stereotypes and cultural beliefs held by both Muslims and the non-Muslim public. It is indispensable for those dealing with sexual assault and abuse in academic and non- academic settings, courses on Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and Women's Studies, and for any discussion of violence against women.


DVD (Color) / 2017 / 40 minutes

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BREAST ARCHIVES, THE

Director: Meagan Murphy

Real women reveal their breasts and uncover personal truths in this gently provocative documentary exploring embodiment, womanhood, and the power of being seen.

The Breast Archives features nine women's personal stories of empowerment. Baring their breasts and their hearts, the women share the unique journeys they've made with their bodies, from their formative years of hiding, shame, and disconnection to adulthood and the discovery of what it means to be a powerful woman. As the women slowly reconnect with their body-based stories they find a reservoir of strength and wisdom that lies within their breasts.


DVD / 2017 / 57 minutes

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GEEK GIRLS

By Gina Hara

Nerdy women - the "hidden half" of fan culture - open up about their lives in the world of conventions, video games, and other rife-with-misogyny pop culture touchstones. While geek communities have recently risen to prominence, very little attention is paid to geek women. Filmmaker Gina Hara, struggling with her own geek identity, explores the issue with a cast of women who live geek life up to the hilt: A feminist geek blogger, a convention-trotting cosplayer, a professional gamer, a video-game designer, and a NASA engineer. Through their personal experiences in the rich cultural explosion of nerdom, GEEK GIRLS shows both the exhilaration of newfound community and the ennui of being ostracized. These women, striving in their respective professions and passions, face the cyberbullying, harassment, and sexism that permeate the culture and the industry at large. A rich conversation-starter for any class on Pop Culture and Feminism.


DVD (Color) / 2017 / 83 minutes

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HAPPY HOUR

By Ryusuke Hamaguchi

A powerful affirmation of the immersive potential of cinema. HAPPY HOUR is a slow-burning epic chronicling the emotional journey of four thirtysomething women in the misty seaside city of Kobe. As they navigate the unsteady currents of their work, domestic, and romantic lives a sudden, unexpected rift opens between that propels each to a new, richer understanding of life and love. Filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi's wise, precisely observed, compulsively watchable drama of friendship and midlife awakening runs over five hours, yet the leisurely duration is not an indulgence but a strategy to create a novelistic space for everyday moments to become charged with possibility that yields a subtle emotional intensity rarely possible in a standard-length film. HAPPY HOUR is far more than just an ordinary melodrama. It is a spectacularly complex and fiercely poetic rendering of the details of daily life in which ideas and feelings are swayed by the unseen forces of friendship and love and buffeted by the weight of deception, loyalty and tradition.

Winner of awards at major international festivals - including Locarno, where stars Sachie Tanaka, Hazuki Kikuchi, Maiko Mihara and Rira Kawamura shared the Golden Leopard for Best Actress - HAPPY HOUR has brought new attention to the work and career of one of Japan's most talented young directors.


DVD (Japanese, With English Subtitles) / 2017 / 317 minutes

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MADEMOISELLE PARADIS

Director: Barbara Albert

Set in 18th century Vienna, this is the true story of Maria Theresia von Paradis, a gifted piano player and close friend of Mozart, who lost her eye-sight as a child. Desperate to cure their talented daughter, the Paradis entrust Maria to Dr. Mesmer, a forward-thinking-physician who gives her the care and attention that she requires. With the doctor's innovative techniques of magnetism, Maria slowly recovers her sight. But this miracle comes at a price as the woman progressively starts to lose her gift for music. Faced with a heavy dilemma, Mademoiselle Paradis will have to choose: an ordinary life in the light or an extraordinary life in darkness, as a virtuoso.


DVD (German & French with English subtitles) / 2017 / 97 minutes

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MAMA COLONEL

By Dieudo Hamadi

Colonel Honorine Manyole, commonly known as "Mama Colonel," works for the Congolese police force and heads the unit for the protection of minors and the fight against sexual violence. Having worked for 15 years in Bukavu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she learns she is transferred to Kisangani. There, she finds herself faced with new challenges.

Through the portrait of this extraordinarily brave and tenacious woman, who fights for justice to be done, this film addresses the issue of violence towards women and children in the DRC and the difficulty of overcoming the past war.


DVD (English, French, Color, With English Subtitles) / 2017 / 72 minutes

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NOTHING WITHOUT US: THE WOMEN WHO WILL END AIDS

By Harriet Hirshorn

NOTHING WITHOUT US tells the inspiring story of the vital role that women have played - and continue to play - in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. Combining archival footage and interviews with female activists, scientists and scholars in the US and Africa, Nothing Without Us reveals how women not only shaped grassroots groups like ACT-UP in the U.S., but have also played an essential part in HIV prevention and treatment access throughout sub-Saharan Africa. From beauty parlors in Baton Rouge to the first HIV clinic in Burundi, this film looks boldly at the unaddressed dynamics that keep women around the world at high-risk for HIV, while introducing the remarkable women who have the answers to ending this 30-year old pandemic. As the history of AIDS activism is being written, women, particularly women of color, are being written out of it. This documentary will be a step in restoring women's crucial role in the history and present-day activism around HIV as well as bolstering the work of women everywhere still fighting for their lives.


DVD (Color) / 2017 / 67 minutes

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OHERO: KON - UNDER THE HUSK

By Katsitsionni Fox

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 Ohero: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 Ohero: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.


DVD (English, Mohawk, Color) / 2017 / 27 minutes

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TRACKING EDITH

Director: Peter Stephan Jungk

When she wasn't working as a Soviet agent, she was taking photos of workers and street children in Vienna and London, documenting poverty and social deprivation. Being a secret agent doesn't seem to have come naturally to the photographer Edith Tudor-Hart. But she did manage to recruit Kim Philby, and act as one of the architects of the Cambridge Five, the Soviet Union's most successful spy ring in Great Britain.

Edith was director Peter Stephan Jungk's great aunt, his mother's cousin; in Tracking Edith he tries to unravel the truth about his great aunt's life - a spy with a conscience and hidden family secrets.


DVD / 2017 / 92 minutes

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WIDOWED WITCH, THE

By Cai Chengjie

Winner of the top prize at the Rotterdam Film Festival, director Cai Chengjie's debut feature is, like its titular protagonist, defiantly low-fi, unexpectedly powerful and fiercely unpredictable.

Deemed cursed by the local villagers, three-time widow Er Hao (played by Tian Tian) has her hands full with a rogue fireworks explosion, a tagalong teenager, and a veritable army of crazed local men who can't keep their hands off her. Turned away when she seeks shelter from her neighbors and forced to take up residence in a cold camper van, Er Hao's future looks as bleak as the stark, snowy countryside.

But a series of fluke changes in fortune causes Er Hao to embrace the mystical identity her villagers have assigned to her. As a sort of modern shaman, she steers superstitions into small subversions, helping others who once shunned her and proving that to survive as a woman is a kind of magic.

THE WIDOWED WITCH fearlessly addresses the power of religion in China which, according to the dictates of Communism, is effectively banned. It also conveys the cruelty that can come with village life, and counters the Western narrative of China as a superpower by showing a place where the rule of law is all but nonexistent. Not only is there no recourse or safety net, even the rape that Er Hao suffers goes unpunished. Abused and shunned, Er Hao gains power over the men who have wronged her - but can she find a place in a misogynist, patriarchal and deeply lonely social structure?

With a stunning array of visual styles and a genre-exploding approach to storytelling, THE WIDOWED WITCH is a simultaneously idealistic and despairing film - a bleak view wrapped in a fabulist aesthetic, and one that encompasses both magic realism and crushing social satire.


DVD (Mandarin with English Subtitles, Color, Black and White) / 2017 / 118 minutes

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MRS. B., A NORTH KOREAN WOMAN

By Jero Yun

"There are five kinds of families that buy us," says Mrs. B over dinner and drinks with fellow North Korean exiles living in China. "The first type, either the father or the mother is missing and the son can't get married. Then there are the very poor families, like my husband's. In the third type, the man is handicapped... mentally handicapped too. They're all poor. We're sold to families like that."

Mrs. B (we don't learn her real name) is something of an expert when it comes to the trafficking of North Koreans. In 2003, at age 37, she left her husband and two sons behind in North Korea, crossed the icy Tumen River into China, and was sold into marriage. When we meet her a decade later, she's running a robust trafficking business from her home on a small farm in northern China. While her husband fixes equipment and brings in the harvest, she's on her cellphone negotiating with people smugglers, bringing in karaoke girls, and advising newly smuggled clients on how to avoid detection and deportation.

MRS. B, A NORTH KOREAN WOMAN is a closely observed verite portrait of a world-weary woman who finds herself between countries, between worlds, and between families. Unable to bring her North Korean family to China, Mrs. B eventually arranges to get them into South Korea (where her husband was originally held under suspicion of espionage). Now, she plans to return to Seoul herself, seek refugee status, see her Korean husband and sons again, and then send for her Chinese husband and his octogenarian parents.

Director Jero Yun runs considerable risks, jammed into the back of a car with Mrs B as she welcomes a newly smuggled young mother into the country, and joining her and a group of women as they travel all the way across China to Thailand - by bus and car, and on a long night-time trek through fields with a crying baby - seeking a better life.

By focusing so tightly on one person, Yun offers a powerful look at the mundane realities of life for both trafficker and trafficked, overturning cliched notions about a necessarily mysterious trade.


DVD (Color) / 2016 / 71 minutes

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SPEED SISTERS

Director: Amber Fares

The Speed Sisters are the first all-woman race car driving team in the Middle East. Grabbing headlines and turning heads at improvised tracks across the West Bank, these five women have sped their way into the heart of the gritty, male-dominated Palestinian street car-racing scene. Weaving together their lives on and off the track, Speed Sisters takes you on a surprising journey into the drive to go further and faster than anyone thought you could.


DVD (Arabic and English with English subtitles) / 2016 / 80 minutes

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TWO FACES OF A BAMILEKE WOMAN, THE

By Rosine Mbakam

Rosine Mbakam left Cameroon at 27 to live in Belgium. Seven years later-having studied film and married a European-she returns, accompanied by her son. Motivated by a desire to better understand her past and the place she grew up, Rosine is nonetheless surprised by the revelations her mother and other women make in startlingly intimate conversations.

THE TWO FACES OF A BAMILEKE WOMAN opens with Rosine making what she calls a journey into darkness-to the village of her birth, and later to the capital city of Yaounde, where her mother now lives most of the year. In the village of Tonga, her mother, Ma Breh, shares memories of the horrors of the war against French colonizers, and of daily life for a Cameroonian woman in an arranged marriage-a fate Rosine herself barely escaped, leaving the family of an angry ex-fiance behind.

Rosine accompanies her mother, aunts, and other women while they go about daily tasks: cooking fish, serving kokistew to a crowd, and selling goods at a thriving market stall. Like many immigrants, she finds herself distant from her home country, yet drawn to its rituals and memories. She goes through a dusty suitcase of her late father's documents, asks if she has damaged family traditions by marrying a white man, teaches her son to say "I love you grandma" in Bamikele, and asks her mother to do a traditional post-birth ritual several years after the fact.

As she spends more time with her mother and the women around her, Rosine reveals the strength of their solidarity and their ability to face adversity-whether hiding for their lives from French soldiers or being committed to a man for marriage at age eight. This world of women's work and women's struggles is one that surrounded her in her early years, but she couldn't recognize it-or its complexity-until she had been away from the social structures of her country.

THE TWO FACES OF A BAMILEKE WOMAN is a sharply observed, nuanced and powerful feature documentary debut that captures the relationship between a woman and her mother-and subtly expresses the dislocation of emigration.


DVD (French, Bamileke, With English Subtitles, Color) / 2016 / 76 minutes

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AFTER TILLER

Directed by Martha Shane, Lane Wilson

Sheds a humanistic light on the heated abortion debate by going inside the lives of the last four doctors in America who openly provide third-trimester abortions.

Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in May 2009, there are only four American doctors left who openly provide third-trimester abortions. AFTER TILLER paints a complex, compassionate portrait of these physicians--Dr. LeRoy Carhart, Dr. Warren Hern, Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella--who have become the new number-one targets of the anti-abortion movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to do work that many believe is murder, but which they believe is profoundly important for their patients' lives.

The film weaves together revealing, in-depth interviews with the doctors with intimate verite scenes from their lives and inside their clinics, where they counsel and care for their anxious, vulnerable patients at an important crossroads in their lives. By sharing the moving stories of several of these patients, AFTER TILLER illuminates the experiences of women who seek late abortions and the reasons why they do so.


DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2013 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 88 minutes

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GUERRILLA GRANNIES: HOW TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD

By Ike Bertels

As a student in the 1960s, Dutch filmmaker Ike Bertels became captivated by an image she saw in a documentary about Mozambique's war for independence: three young members of the Women's Detachment of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) sitting on the grass and cleaning their rifles.

Almost two decades later, in 1984, she tracked down the three women: Monica, Amelia, and Maria, who were now living through the civil war that followed Mozambique's independence. Monica now served as a member of a Central Committee of the ruling FRELIMO party. Maria was in school and taking care of her five children, and Amelia worked as a seamstress. Ten years later, Bertels returned to Mozambique to document these women once again, as they navigated the new society that emerged after the conclusion of the civil war in 1992.

GUERILLA GRANNIES depicts Bertels' third encounter with these remarkable women, all three now grandmothers in their 60s, and narrates the filmmaker's long friendship with them. Today Mozambique has a growing industrial economy and stable political system. It also ranks among the top 25 countries in the world for women, according to a 2012 World Economic Forum report, thanks largely to the efforts of pioneers like Monica, Amelia, and Maria. Their success in helping transform the county has sapped none of their ambition, and the film reveals their tireless efforts to create a better life for their children and grandchildren.

Ruminating on her decades-long relationship with these three women, Bertels catalogues everything she has learned from them, realizing that they taught her "how to live in this world." The filmmaker's loving portrait of these women shows us the powerful cross-cultural relationships that can develop between a filmmaker and subject over decades of dedicated documentation, and an unsensational side of African life to which the cinema rarely grants us access.


DVD (Color) / 2012 / 80 minutes

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LIFE 8: TRAWLER GIRL

A female trawler captain in Namibia exemplifies goals set forth for women in the Millennium Development Goals.

Johanna is Namibia's first female trawler captain. She trained with the Namibian Maritime Fisheries Institute and became skipper after eight years service as an officer and chief mate. Now in command of a crew of 23, she finds that men are not used to a woman at the wheel. Namibia signed up to the Millennium Development Goals that aim to cut poverty by half in 2015. These goals include specific targets for women on education, reproductive health and equality. Johanna is an example of targets fulfilled--but what about her friends and relatives back home?


DVD / 2010 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 27 minutes

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LIFE 8: SILK CEILING, PART 1

Ritu Bhardawaj is an Indian TV reporter who has broken through the silk ceiling which narrows the prospects for so many women in the Asia Pacific region.

In New Delhi, Ritu Bhardawaj is a star to the neighborhood children. Not only does she help with their homework, but she's also a glamorous TV reporter. For young Indian girls like Kiran and Monika, she's a role model in a society that doesn't favor ambitious girls. We follow Ritu as she makes her next big report - a documentary about the "silk ceiling" which hangs over the lives of many women in the Asia Pacific region, narrowing prospects and frustrating talent. Do politics and the law mean they're all fighting against impossible odds?


DVD / 2009 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 26 minutes

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LIFE 8: SILK CEILING, PART 2

Indian TV journalist Ritu Bhardawaj goes to Bihar to investigate the invisible barrier that confronts so many Asian women.

Indian TV journalist Ritu Bhardawaj reckons that the dancing girls have a special insight into the plight of women. That's because they're really men, dressed up for the Navratri festivities in the Indian state of Bihar. Ritu is visiting Bihar to continue her report on the invisible barrier which confronts so many Asian women. And if Anand and Shrish are right, women are still too often regarded as sex objects. But supposedly backward Bihar also offers a role model in Kiran Devi, a young housewife elected as village head, or sarpanch. Among her duties is judging local disputes, and so far she's settled at least 200 cases. When men, who are seen as protectors and providers, walk out of marriages, women can be left in legal limbo. But is it wise to press for reforms when Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise?


DVD / 2009 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 26 minutes

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LIFE 6: NO COUNTRY FOR YOUNG GIRLS?

Directed by Nupur Basu

A young Indian woman has to choose-stay with a husband who doesn't want female children, or make it on her own.

Twenty-seven year old Vyjanthi lives in the Indian city of Agra, in the shadow of the Taj Mahal built in honor of a beautiful woman. Already mother to one three-year old girl, when she became pregnant again her husband and in-laws forced her to have a scan to determine the sex of the foetus. Told she was carrying a girl, they tried to pressure her to have an abortion, and after a major argument she fled to her parents' home. But she felt bad, went back to her husband, got pregnant again, and the same thing happened all over again.

Now she's living with her parents, with two young daughters-and undecided whether she can make it on her own, or will have to go back to her husband again. Sex-selective abortion is illegal in India, but so widespread that there are many more boys than girls, especially in India's more prosperous states. Vyjanthi wants to know if things are really as bad for girls in the rest of India as in her own neighborhood. Isn't India now one of the world's booming economies, thanks to its embrace of globalization?

Life takes Vyjanthi on a journey through India, and films as she makes a disturbing discovery. Just because a country's becoming richer, doesn't actually mean life's going to be better for most people. In fact the status of women in India is falling behind that of women in many other countries, even in South Asia, and the newly prosperous middle class are particularly likely to abort female foetuses.

Will Vyjanthi decide that India can offer her and her daughters a fair and prosperous future on their own? Or will she decide that India is no country for young girls, and go back to her husband?


DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2008 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 25 minutes

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LIFE 6: THREE SISTERS

Eritrea's women fought in the war. Should they now liberate themselves from harmful traditional practices?

Young Eritrean women like Commander Belainesh have fought in two wars-and been pioneers for women's rights. From the early 1970s, tens of thousands of girls from poor, conservative Muslim and Christian families-previously powerless in their communities-were enlisted by the Eritrean People's Liberation Front and integrated into the ranks as bona fide fighters.

A third of the guerrilla army were women. For 35 years they fought on the frontline and were treated as equals, serving as platoon commanders, tank drivers, barefoot doctors and engineers. By the late 1970s EPLF women fighters had come to personify an image of progress and liberation from oppressive traditions. But from 2002 on, thousands of them were demobilized.

Now they face life in villages where girls must be circumcised, wives must obey their husbands, and children are married off as young as 12. Reports suggest that half the women who fought on the front lines are now estranged from their families and live in abject poverty. Despite a new constitution intended to protect women's rights, the old ways-from bride prices to female circumcision-continue to be practiced.

Across the world, women soldiers like Belaniesh who've literally fought for their rights are struggling to hold on to their gains now that men don't need them. Their plight reflects a growing, controversial academic view that almost all "liberation struggles" fail to realize their dream. On this count, Eritrea stands as a monument to the futility of taking arms to win rights which economic growth can more effectively fulfil.

For Commander Belainesh, it's time to decide whether her dreams of liberation have failed-and whether it's time to move on.


DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2008 / (Grades 7-12, College, Adult) / 25 minutes

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