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By Therese Shechter
Female virginity. The US government has spent 1.5 billion dollars promoting it. It has fetched $750,000 at auction. There is no official medical definition for it. And 50 years after the sexual revolution, it continues to define young women's morality and self-worth.
This hilarious, eye-opening, occasionally alarming documentary uses the filmmaker's own path out of virginity to explore its continuing value in our otherwise hypersexualized society. Layering verite interviews and vintage sex-ed films with candid self-reflection and wry narration, Shechter reveals myths, dogmas and misconceptions behind this "precious gift." Sex educators, porn producers, abstinence advocates, and outspoken teens share their own stories of having - or not having - sex.
In a culture where "Be sexy, but don't have sex" is the overwhelming message to young women, the film goes through the looking glass to understand a milestone almost everyone thinks about but no one actually understands.
"Virginity is a powerful and malleable concept, as evidenced by the teenagers in Therese Shechter's smart, funny and provoking documentary." - Soraya Chemaly, The Huffington Post
"Shechter gets us talking about our V-cards (whether we've cashed them in or whether we're holding on tight) and creates an important documentary in the process." - Bust Magazine
DVD (Color) / 2013 / 66 minutes
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By Kim Longinotto
When Salma, a young Muslim girl in a south Indian village, was 13 years old, her family locked her up for 25 years, forbidding her to study and forcing her into marriage. During that time, words were Salma's salvation. She began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper and, through an intricate system, was able to sneak them out of the house, eventually getting them into the hands of a publisher. Against the odds, Salma became the most famous Tamil poet: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village.
As with her other work (PINK SARIS, ROUGH AUNTIES, SISTERS IN LAW), master documentarian Kim Longinotto trains her camera on an iconoclastic woman. Salma's extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience. Salma has hopes for a different life for the next generation of girls, but as she witnesses, familial ties run deep, and change happens very slowly. SALMA helps us understand why the goal of global education of girls is one the most critical areas of empowerment and development of women worldwide.
"SALMA feels like a dispatch from the social-justice front, a profile that in many way symbolizes women's resistance to a developing world that hasn't caught up with developments in gender equality." - John Anderson, Variety
"A beautiful and tragic film... It's evident that change for women is bubbling at the surface, and it is thanks to the work of extraordinary women like Salma who are consequently demanding that change." - Fariha Roisin, Huff Post Media
"A story of rare achievement- a Muslim woman who writes her escape out of family servitude in southern India. Given the furore over the recent Delhi rape scandal and the glaring lingering injustices of village, SALMA will travel widely." - David D'Arcy, Screen Daily
DVD (Tamil, Color) / 2013 / 89 minutes
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"I think when you are born a woman in Afghanistan," says Kabul native Noorjahan Akbar, "you are taught every day to hate yourself." But, as this film illustrates, Akbar is in no danger of falling into that self-hatred trap. The youthful activist counsels victims of misogynist brutality and has helped establish Young Women for Change, an organization dedicated to improving the lives and human rights of Afghan women. The documentary also features a profile of Trudi-Ann Tierney, an Australian producer who creates shows for Kabul's Tolo TV network. Tierney's difficulties in promoting a progressive image of women, and even in ensuring the safety of female performers, echo the ongoing hurdles Afghanistan faces as a torn and violent nation.
Note: Only available in the US and Canada.
DVD / 2012 / 27 minutes
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In Afghanistan, an old tradition allows families without a son to transform one of their daughters into a boy. These little girls, known as bacha posh, spend their early years dressed as boys and are accorded all the privileges and responsibilities of being male-but after puberty, they must revert to the female roles into which they were born. This program follows four girls who temporarily became the sons their parents longed for. Shabina has recently become bacha posh to help her disabled father and seems to be taking it all in stride. For Mariam and Naid, it's time to change back, but both are desperate to hang on to their male identities. Lastly we meet Jack, a bacha posh who refused to change back and who now heads for Europe. What new discoveries will the freedoms of the West invite?
Note: Only available in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and South Africa.
DVD / 2012 / 52 minutes
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Social and developmental psychologist and author Lynn Phillips explores the line between consent and coercion in this thought-provoking look at popular culture and the ways real girls and women navigate their heterosexual relationships and hookups. Featuring dramatizations of interviews that Phillips conducted with hundreds of young women, the film examines how the wider culture's frequently contradictory messages about pleasure, danger, agency, and victimization enter into women's most intimate relationships with men. The result is a refreshingly candid, and nuanced, look at how young women are forced to grapple with deeply ambivalent cultural attitudes about female sexuality. Essential for courses that look at popular culture, gender norms, sexuality, and sexual violence.
"Avoiding simplistic dichotomies, Phillips eloquently negotiates the tricky terrain between female pleasure and male accountability." - Rhoda Unger, Montclair State University
"A fascinating study of the ways young women grapple with the surprising paradoxes and contradictions expressed in young women's fears, fantasies, beliefs, and desires." - Sara Ruddick, Author of Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace
"Phillips has... a keen sense of the uncertainties and competing forces that shape heterosexual relationships for contemporary young women." - Psychology of Women Quarterly
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2012 / Approx 55 minutes
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By Noga Ashkenazi
THE GREY AREA is an intimate look at women's issues in the criminal justice system and the unique experience of studying feminism behind bars.
Through a series of captivating class discussions, headed by students from Grinnell College, a small group of female inmates at a maximum women's security prison in Mitchellville, Iowa, share their diverse experiences with motherhood, drug addiction, sexual abuse, murder, and life in prison. The women, along with their teachers, explore the "grey area" that is often invisible within the prison walls and delve into issues of race, class, sexuality and gender.
"This insightful and thought-provoking documentary asks us to truly see the most invisible women in the United States - women in the criminal justice system. One cannot walk away from this film untouched or unaware of the reality of incarcerated women's lives. The Grey Area challenges us to take action and advocate for the reassessment of our current policies and programs." - Stephanie S. Covington, Ph.D., Co-director, Center for Gender & Justice, La Jolla, CA
"A compelling example of the power of feminism to bridge barriers between women and to heal some of the damage they have endured." - Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, SUNY
DVD (Color) / 2012 / 65 minutes
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Directed by Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine
A powerful, moving documentary from the filmmakers of the Academy Award nominated War/Dance , Inocente delivers a rare glimpse inside the inspirational life of a homeless, undocumented fifteen-year old girl, a burgeoning artist, and the extraordinary challenges she must contend with on a daily basis.
In San Diego, a young teenage girl's eyes stare into a compact mirror. She paints a dramatic black swirl around her eye. She never knows what her day will bring, but she knows at least it will always begin with color. At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be destroyed by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years.
Color is her personal revolution and its extraordinary sweep on her canvases creates a world that looks nothing like her own dark past - - a past punctuated by a father deported for domestic abuse, an alcoholic and defeated mother of four who once took her daughter by the hand to jump off a bridge together, an endless shuffle year after year through the city's overcrowded homeless shelters and the constant threat of deportation.
Despite this history, Inocente's eyes envision a world transformed...where buildings drip in yellow and orange, where pink and turquoise planets twinkle with rescued dreams, and one-eyed childlike creatures play amongst loved babies and purple clouds. Inocente's family history is slowly revealed through her paintings.
Told in her own words, we come to Inocente's story as she realizes her life is at a turning point, and for the first time, she decides to take control of her own destiny. Irreverent, flawed and funny, she's now channeling her irrepressible personality into a future she controls. Her talent has finally been noticed, and if she can create a body of work in time, she has an opportunity to put on her first art show. Meanwhile, her family life is at a tense impasse - - if she legally emancipates herself from her mother to strike out on her own, she'll risk placing her brothers in foster care, but to stay is unbearable.
Inocente is a timeless story about the transformative power of art, the challenges facing undocumented immigrants in this country, and the new face of homeless in America: children. But it is also a coming of age story about a brave young girl's fierce determination to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings.
"This poignant film gives face to homeless children and should prompt discussions about immigration reform, homelessness, and arts education. Recommended for young adult readers...Teens will embrace Inocente and her story." - Candace Smith, Booklist
"Insanely inspiring" - Kate Kennedy, Glamour
Winner, Special Jury Prize, Arizona International Film Festival
Winner, Best Documentary Short, San Antonio Film Festival
Winner, UNICEF Special Award - EBS International Documentary Film Festival
Winner, Best Short Film, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival
Winner, Spirit Award, Awareness Film Festival
DVD / 2012 / 40 minutes
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After eight years of marriage Jhuma and her husband Niladri have not been able to conceive, and they are becoming desperate. They've decided to travel to Hyderabad, capital of India's medical and pharmaceutical industry and the home of several thriving assisted fertility clinics. This film follows the Indian couple through their clinical and emotional struggle to overcome, as they see it, the "curse" of childlessness. Viewers also meet a feisty female doctor whose fertility clinics are amazingly lucrative as well as another couple facing their own childbearing dilemma-whether or not surrogate motherhood is morally acceptable, especially when it is performed for large sums of money. Candid and often heartbreaking, this is an intimate portrait of a universal human problem embroiled in a tragic cultural conundrum.
DVD / 2012 / 56 minutes
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By Lida Chan and Guillaume Suon
The Killing Fields in Cambodia became known to the world but little is known about the struggles of the women left behind. From 1975-79, Pol Pot's campaign to increase the population forced at least 250,000 young Cambodian women to marry Khmer Rouge soldiers they had never met before. Sochan Pen was one of them. At 16, she was beaten and raped by her husband before managing to escape, though deeply scarred by her experience. After 30 years of silence, Sochan is ready to file a complaint with the international tribunal that will try former Khmer leaders. With quiet dignity, she starts demanding answers from those who carried out the regime's orders.
To tell a story little known outside Cambodia, Cambodian Lida Chan and French-Cambodian Guillaume Suon include Khmer Rouge era footage underscoring war's traumatic legacy for Sochan's generation of women. Awarded two prizes at Amsterdam's prestigious International Documentary Film Festival, RED WEDDING demonstrates the liberating power of speech and memory in the quest for justice.
"Subtly and poetically illuminates the absolute necessity of a country to shine the light on the truth about its own history." - Geneva Human Rights Film Festival
"The story of a survivor who pits humanity against an ideology and a system designed to annihilate people like her." - Foundation Alter Cine
"Combines all the elements of a great documentary: a powerful historical episode, retold from an unexpected angle, and a first-rate photography." - International Documentary Festival Amsterdam Jury
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), NTF IDFA Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary
DVD (Cambodian, Color) / 2012 / 58 minutes
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By Marcia Rock and Patricia Lee Stotter
Women make up 15 percent of today's military. That number is expected to double in 10 years. SERVICE highlights the resourcefulness of seven amazing women who represent the first wave of mothers, daughters and sisters returning home from the frontless wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Portraying the courage of women veterans as they transition from active duty to their civilian lives, this powerful film describes the horrific traumas they have faced, the inadequate care they often receive on return, and the large and small accomplishments they work mightily to achieve.
These are the stories we hear about from men returning from war, but rarely from women veterans. Through compelling portraits, we watch these women wrestle with prostheses, homelessness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma. The documentary takes the audience on a journey from the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq to rural Tennessee and urban New York City, from coping with amputations, to flashbacks, triggers and depression to ways to support other vets. An eye-opening look at the specific challenges facing women veterans with a special focus on the disabled, SERVICE can be used for courses in military studies, women's studies, peace and conflict courses and veteran support groups.
"This work is a delicately balanced portrayal of our women warriors' battles and victories over insurmountable odds...a must see!" - Lourdes Alvarado-Ramos, Director, Washington State Dept. of Veteran Affairs
"Without doubt, the most powerful film I've seen about women veterans. It tears you to pieces to watch it and restores your soul . . . All at the same time. It's a documentary about hope. It's the best film you haven't seen yet. Tell everyone you know about it." - Wendi Goodman, 18-year Army veteran, author of One Weary Soldier blog
"The film stuns. These women veterans show extraordinary character and resolve as they deal with unforgiving injuries, and a culture dull with ignorance. Hawk or dove, we need to understand and appreciate this special group." - Associate English Professor Nancy Nevins, Pierce and Glendale Colleges, CA
DVD (Color) / 2012 / 55 minutes
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In this provocative presentation, career prosecutor Anne Munch examines how societal attitudes influence legal cases involving sexual assault. Drawing on her experience prosecuting sex crimes, Munch demonstrates how rape cases frequently turn on the involvement of what she calls an "unnamed conspirator" -- the complex of myths and stories we tell ourselves as a culture about sex, gender, power, and responsibility. Using examples from real cases, and harrowing evidence from actual 911 calls, Munch shows how the assumptions that juries bring into the courtroom often stack the odds against victims, and challenges us to question how our own assumptions might reinforce victim-blaming. The result is at once a stunning look inside our criminal justice system and a cutting analysis of American culture's warped views of women's sexuality.
"In compelling fashion, Munch is able to communicate these complex issues involving sexual assault in an accessible manner that is personal, eye-opening, and timely." - Jeff O'Brien, Director, Mentors in Violence Prevention National
"The powerful message Anne Munch delivers is unequaled in terms of education and awareness. She has the ability to connect with her audience and challenge basic social norms, as well as the audience members' own belief systems, about sexual assault." - Drs. Curt & Christie Brungardt, Fort Hays State University
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2012 / 57 minutes
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Directed by Mai Iskander
From the director of multi-award-winning documentary Garbage Dreams , Words of Witness follows a 22-year-old female reporter for the independent newspaper Egypt Independent , as she covers Egypt's transition to democracy, from the heyday of Tahir Square to Egypt's first free and fair presidential election. Defying cultural and gender norms as well as family expectations, Heba takes to the streets to report, using Facebook posts, tweets, and text messages, on an Egypt in turmoil.
For thirty years, Egypt was ruled by the oppressive regime of President Hosnu Mubarak. When Mubarak resigned and transferred the power to the Army to lead the country in the transition to democracy, the Tahir Square demonstrators celebrate chanting "The Army and the people will complete the journey". However, as Heba and the nation quickly realize, the struggle for a new order has just begun.
Despite repetitive arguments with her mother who is fearing for her daughter's life and cautious of respecting women's traditional roles, Heba covers a series of historical events. She interviews parents of missing demonstrators; takes an active part in a thrilling demonstration at the State Security headquarters resulting in the discovery of thousand of classified files on public figures and ordinary citizens kept by the police; gets caught in a tense religious event protesting against the State police who are preventing the rebuilding of a church; witnesses the army, once hailed as the people's liberators, using violence and later torture and taking down demonstrators camps in Tahir Square; and, finally, documents the election process.
Words of Witness offers a fascinating account of Egypt post-revolution as the nation faces the challenges that lay ahead; as well as a moving portrait of an incredible, fearless young woman, who is now a contributor to The New York Times. Heba's story is an illustration of the critical role social media played in the Arab Spring, as nations are in the process of reinventing themselves and finding their voices.
"A crucial story of modern revolution... The ambitious, articulate Afify bucks native female tradition... as she confidently immerses herself into a series of precarious, post-Mubarak actions and protests" - The Los Angeles Times
"Raw and fascinating." - Wall Street Journal
"As a young truth-seeker, an idealist, and female, Heba is very much a heroine for the 21st century." - Slant
DVD / 2012 / 70 minutes
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By Pascale Obolo
An exuberant and inspiring ambassador for the Caribbean, Calypso Rose is the uncontested and much decorated diva of Calypso music. With more than 800 recorded songs, she continues to be a pioneer and champion of women's rights, as she travels the world making music. Journeying to Paris, New York, Trinidad and Tobago and to her ancestral home in Africa, we learn more about Calypso Rose in each place, and the many faces and facets of her life. The daughter of an illiterate Trinidadian fisherman, Calypso Rose was sent to live with relatives in Tobago at the age of 9. At 15 she wrote her first song and launched a career that took her to the top of the male dominated calypso world. This creative film is not only about memory and the exchange and discovery of world cultures, but also about the journey of a remarkable woman, an Afro-Caribbean soul and an exemplary artist.
"[T]his documentary is not only a tribute to the first female Tobagonian calypso artist but also to the Caribbean women of the African Diaspora at large, whose struggles find voice in the eight hundred calypso lyrics Rose composed drawing on the spirit of her African ancestry." - Dr. Claudia Brazzale, AAUW Fellow, Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers University
"[A]n unflinching look at the story of a woman who...found herself trapped in a cage of violence, and broke out to become a major artist and, in Rose's case, cleared a path for other women to follow." - Dr. Kim Johnson, Senior Research Fellow, University of Trinidad and Tobago
"[A]n intimate portrait about the "Grande Dame" of Calypso... Reveals her personal story, her groundbreaking musical achievements, her commitment to defend women°¨s rights, her faith, her worries and fears and above all her strong love of life and people." - Bijan Tehrani, Cinema Without Borders
DVD (English, French, Color) / 2011 / 85 minutes
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By Deepa Dhanraj
In Southern India, family disputes are settled by Jamaats- all male bodies which apply Islamic Sharia law to cases, without allowing women to be present, even to defend themselves. Recognizing this fundamental inequity, a group of women in 2004 established a women's Jamaat, which soon became a network of 12,000 members spread over 12 districts. Despite enormous resistance, they have been able to settle more than 8,000 cases to date, ranging from divorce to wife beating and brutal murders. Award-winning filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj (SOMETHING LIKE A WAR) follows several cases, shining a light on how the women's Jamaat has acquired power through both communal education and the leaders' persistent, tenacious and compassionate investigation of the crimes. In astonishing scenes we watch the Jamaat meetings, where women often shout over each other about the most difficult facets of their personal lives. Above all, the women's Jamaat exists to hold their male counterparts and local police to account, and to reform a profoundly corrupt system which allows men to take refuge in the most extreme interpretation of the Qur'an to justify violence towards women.
"An intimate and inspiring portrayal of the collective action of Muslim sisterhood. This is a particularly important film for our times in that it tells a story that runs counter to the dominant stereotypes about Muslim women." - Stephen Hughes, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
DVD (Color) / 2011 / 85 minutes
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By Ilse van Velzen & Femke van Velzen
JUSTICE FOR SALE follows Claudine, a young and courageous human rights lawyer, in her struggle against injustice and widespread impunity in Congo.
She investigates the case of Masamba, a soldier who was convicted of rape, and discovers that his trial was corrupt and unfair. He was jailed without any concrete evidence. In Claudine's journey to obtain justice, she uncovers a system where the basic principles of law are virtually ignored.
Masamba's trial also raises questions about the financial support that the international community and NGOs offer to the Congolese judicial system. Is it creating a justice that's for sale? And if so, who pays the price?
JUSTICE FOR SALE is the third documentary in Ilse and Femke van Velzen's trilogy about the Congo, after making FIGHTING THE SILENCE and WEAPON OF WAR.
"...there is always something in their films that amazes me. In this one, there is a female lawyer, who is very well chosen. She makes a very cynical remark that as these trials are paid for by NGOs, they demand to see some measure of success. So now and then punishments are given just to satisfy the requirements of these NGOs - this was one scene that I thought was remarkable." - Jannie Lagnbroek, Chairman Jan Vrijman Fund Board and IDFA Industry Office
"Since the first film, the Congo's rape record has captured the world's attention and numerous international NGOs have set up local operations aimed at bringing rapists to justice. ...[the film] looks set to prompt some interesting discussions" - See NL Magazine
DVD (French, Swahili, Lingala, Color) / 2011 / 84 minutes
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Directed by Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix
Shot on the eve of the Syrian uprising, The Light in Her Eyes is a portrait of a remarkable woman, Houda al-Habash, a conservative Muslim preacher who 30 years ago founded one of the first religious schools for girls in Syria. It provides unique insight into the women's mosque movement, a piety movement that calls for greater freedom for women and encourages them to claim space within the mosque, a space historically dominated by men, while considering the changing roles of girls, women, and Islam in the Middle East.
Every summer, hundreds of girls and teenagers in Houda's mosque immerse themselves in a rigorous study of Islam, in addition to their secular schooling. They attend intensive Qur'an classes where they learn to memorize the holy book with perfect enunciation. At the end of the summer, the program ends with two joyful ceremonies: while the young girls who are old enough to wear the hijab, the Muslim headscarf, are veiled for the first time by Houda, the older students who have succeeded in memorizing the holy book in its entirety proudly graduate from the program.
Through lectures and one-on-one dialogue, Houda teaches a complex mix of progressive and conservative values. Challenging tradition, Houda insists education for women is a form of worship that can challenge extremism. It is not Islam that has deprived women, rather "Muslims themselves have deprived women of everything". While she encourages her students to pursue higher education, jobs, and public lives, she remains strongly committed to an interpretation of Islam which prioritizes women's roles as wives and mothers.
Houda represents the new face of women's leadership in Islam. Women like her are an indication that, if and when political freedom comes to places like Syria, the local definition of freedom will likely differ dramatically from its definition in the West.
"A remarkable documentary... The Light In Her Eyes provides an inside look into the Islamic revival from the women's perspective." - The Huffington Post
" A remarkable documentary... A rare, and much needed, glimpse at the world through the eyes of modern Muslim women". - Foreign Policy in Focus
"The Light in Her Eyes is unique in that it is a documentary that allows for an unprecedented look into the rarely seen and seldom independently defined world of Muslim women. A must-see documentary that can open up an array of conversations on gender, politics and religion , and is also a film that introduces the viewer to the stories of real people, outside of the lens of judgment." - Islamic Horizons
DVD / 2011 / 87 minutes
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With the Iranian revolution of 1979 came the harsh imposition of Sharia law and the repression, persecution, state-sanctioned discrimination and murder of women. Over the last 30 years, the women's fight for freedom and equality led to an inner awakening. In 2003, Shirin Ebadi became the first Muslim woman and the first Iranian citizen to receive the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize acknowledging her courageous efforts for democracy and human rights in Iran.
Her crowning achievement inspired Iranian women to begin what has become the most powerful movement for reform in Iran's history, the One Million Signature campaign. The bravery of these women is remarkable as they risk their lives to gain freedoms under one of the world's most repressive regimes. Lion Women chronicles the untold story of the Iranian Women's Movement and its fight for democracy and human rights.
The fight culminated in Teheran's bloody streets in 2009 when the Lion Women were joined by hundreds of thousands protesting the controversial presidential election. For the first time, Iranian women reveal to the world their heartbreaking stories in this powerful documentary directed by filmmaker Gry Winther, who stood shoulder to shoulder with the Lion Women in Teheran amid the brutality and violence.
DVD / 2011 / (Senior High - College) / 52 minutes
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By Mimi Chakarova
An unprecedented and compelling inquiry into a dark side of immigration so difficult to cover or probe with depth, THE PRICE OF SEX sheds light on the underground criminal network of human trafficking and experiences of trafficked Eastern European women forced into prostitution abroad. Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova's feature documentary caps years of painstaking, on-the-ground reporting that aired on Frontline (PBS) and 60 Minutes (CBS) and earned her an Emmy nomination, Magnum photo agency's Inge Morath Award, and a Webby for Internet excellence.
Filming under cover with extraordinary access, even posing as a prostitute to gather her material, Bulgarian-born Chakarova travels from impoverished rural areas in post-Communist Eastern Europe, including her grandmother's village, to Turkey, Greece, and Dubai. This dangerous investigative journey brings Chakarova face to face with trafficked women willing to trust her and appear on film undisguised. Their harrowing first-person accounts, as well as interviews with traffickers, clients, and anti-trafficking activists, expose the root causes, complex connections, and stark significance of sexual slavery today.
"More than simply bashing patriarchy or capitalism or globalization, Chakarova instead exposes the complexities and corruptions at their intersections, taking care to humanize, rather than exploit, her brave subjects. The poignant stills, gritty undercover footage, and squirm-worthy interviews with those who surround these young women weave together a narrative that pulls few punches but demands viewers' attention. The storytelling and visual composition alone make this film absolutely captivating." - Catherine Orr, Women's and Gender Studies, Beloit College
DVD (English/Russian/Turkish/Bulgarian, Color) / 2011 / 73 minutes
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By Jessica Valenti
Throughout history, boys have been taught that the things that make them men -- good men -- are transcendent ideals like courage and honesty and integrity, while girls have been led to believe that a woman's moral compass lies somewhere between her legs, literally. In this alternately hilarious and enraging new film adaptation of her bestselling book, The Purity Myth, pioneering feminist blogger Jessica Valenti shows how this moral double standard is alive and well today thanks to a well-funded coalition of virginity-obsessed conservatives bent on vilifying feminism and rolling back women's rights.
Valenti trains her sights on what she calls the "virginity movement" -- an unholy alliance of evangelical Christians, political activists, and policy wonks who have been spreading irrational fears about women's sexuality to shape government policy, public education, and even popular culture in their own traditionalist image. And whether her focus is the exploding popularity of dad-and-daughter "purity balls," or the millions of dollars American taxpayers shell out each year for failed abstinence-only programs, Valenti's baseline target is the same: the myth that the worth of a woman depends on what she does or does not do sexually. In the end, The Purity Myth shows why commercial culture's hypersexualization of women is too serious a problem to be left to ideologues, arguing that the antidote to our pornified culture is not a set of reactionary policies that replace one form of sexism with another, but embracing women's autonomy and power.
"Fierce and funny... In-your-face feminism is what Valenti is about." - Antonia Zerbisias | The Toronto Star
"Valenti shines a bright light on the cultural misogyny that -- yes, even today -- keep women struggling for the simple justice of owning our bodies, embracing our sexuality, and fully assuming the right to own our own lives." - Gloria Feldt | Author, The War on Choice | Planned Parenthood Federation of America
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2011 / Approx. 60 minutes
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By Maria Luisa Gambale & Gloria Bremer
Rapper, singer and activist, Sister Fa is hero to young women in Senegal and an unstoppable force for social change. A childhood victim of female genital cutting (FGC), she decided to tackle the issue by starting a grassroots campaign, "Education Without Excision," which uses her music and persuasive powers to end the practice. But until 2010 there's one place she had never brought her message- back home to her own village of Thionck Essyl, where she fears rejection. Sarabah follows Sister Fa on this challenging journey, where she speaks out passionately to female elders and students alike, and stages a rousing concert that has the community on its feet. A portrait of an artist as activist, Sarabah shows the extraordinary resilience, passion and creativity of a woman who boldly challenges gender and cultural norms. It's an inspiring story of courage, hope and change.
"Highly recommended. A moving and hopeful documentary..skillfully addresses the complexities of social transformation that challenge traditions and beliefs about women's socialization." - Marianne Sarkis, Ph.D., Assistant Prof. of Int'l Development and Social Change, Clark University
"Give(s) us the exuberance and drive of a young woman artist whose brand of stardom eschews designer gowns and red carpets. She is Sister Fa. Her medium is rap and hip-hop and her message is emancipation." - Dr. Betty Levitov, African Studies, Doane College
Movies That Matter Film Festival, Winner, Golden Butterfly Award
DVD (French/German/Diola/Wolof, Color) / 2011 / 60 minutes
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By Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
SAVING FACE is a harshly realistic view of some incredibly strong and impressive women. Every year in Pakistan, many women are known to be victimized by brutal acid attacks, with numerous cases going unreported. With little or no access to reconstructive surgery, survivors are physically and emotionally scarred. Many reported assailants, typically a husband or someone else close to the victim, receive minimal punishment from the state.
Plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad left his prominent London practice to return to his home country and help the victims of such attacks. Two of these women, Zakia and Rukhsana, are victims of brutal acid attacks by their husbands and in Rukhsana's case, her in-laws as well. Both attempt to bring their assailants to justice and move on with their lives with the help of NGOs, sympathetic policymakers, politicians, support groups with other acid attack victims and Dr. Jawad. SAVING FACE also depicts a Pakistan that is changing - one where ordinary people can stand up and make a difference and where marginalized communities can seek justice.
"The '•victims' in Saving Face are some of the strongest, most impressive women you will ever come across. She showed us their scars, and we saw their true beauty. ... I dare anyone to watch this film and not be moved to tears and inspired into action.°® - Angelina Jolie, Time Magazine
"This film...has the impact of an epic. ...it takes a realistic, level-headed view of the people involved, and of the surgical process. It follows the efforts of a woman member of Parliament to introduce a bill establishing life sentences for those guilty of acid attacks, and it passes unanimously." - Roger Ebert, Film Critic
"Obaid Chinoy's film is one part of [the] education and awareness-raising effort that could help ease the suffering of women not just in Pakistan but in other countries where acid attacks happen." - CBC News
Academy Award Winner for Documentary (Short Subject)
DVD (Color, Urdu, With English, Subtitles) / 2011 / 40 minutes
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Directed By: Sut Jhally
In this new, highly anticipated update of her pioneering Killing Us Softly series, the first in more than a decade, Jean Kilbourne takes a fresh look at how advertising traffics in distorted and destructive ideals of femininity. The film marshals a range of new print and television advertisements to lay bare a stunning pattern of damaging gender stereotypes -- images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. By bringing Kilbourne's groundbreaking analysis up to date, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge a new generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, and gender violence.
"Jean Kilbourne's work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture -- advertising. We owe her a great debt." - Susan Faludi, Author, Backlash and Stiffed
"As timely and important as ever... A must for everyone who cares about media literacy and gender equity." - Susan Douglas, Author, Where the Girls Are: Growing Up With the Mass Media
"Jean Kilbourne's work is profoundly important. She's one of those people who makes a difference in how we see the world." - Arlie Hochschild, Director of the Center for Working Families | University of California, Berkeley
Academy for Eating Disorders, Special Recognition Award, 2002
Action Coalition for Media Education Media Activist National Award, 2006
Womanspace, Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award, 2008
Myra Sadker Equity Award, 2005
Germaine Lawrence, Inc., Woman of Excellence Award, 2005
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2010 / 45 minutes
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By Gillian Goslinga
In an informal survey of some 300 South Indian Hindu temples in the late 1990s, only four female poojaris or priestesses were counted. This is an intimate portrait of one such priestess, Rajathiamma, who spiritually inherited from her father at his death the post of "periya poojari" or big priest. Weaving dramatic footage of the rituals and temple life at the non Brahmanical Hindu temple with Rajathiamma's moving narration of her process, the documentary captures the conflict between her calling to serve her god and her attachment to her family.
DVD (Color) / 2010 / 66 minutes
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By Pascale Bourgaux
This hard-hitting film is the first to cover the shocking story of sexual harassment and rape of American women soldiers. The Pentagon has acknowledged receiving 3,000 reports of sexual mistreatment in one year alone. These female soldiers were not attacked by the Afghan or Iraqi "enemy," but by colleagues in their own platoons and sometimes by their own superior officers. Each year the number of reported sexual assaults has skyrocketed but not the number of convictions: only 2% of accused rapists are ever court-martialed. The double traumas of sexual persecution and combat may be why a 2008 RAND study found that female veterans are suffering twice as much depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as their male counterparts.
Very few women have been willing to speak out, but four women, all in their twenties, and their families decided to talk openly about their ordeals. Unable to stand the nightmarish daily rapes by her commander in Iraq, Suzanne refused to report back for mission and was subsequently court-martialed. Jessica was raped in the U.S. and Korea and left the service, yet hopes to return and bring her attackers to justice. Stephanie has come to regret never reporting her own rape, hence perpetuating the law of silence. Tina, who was raped in Iraq, supposedly "killed herself" although her mother claims she was murdered. This film recounts the story of their pain, revolt and uphill battle for justice.
2009 Remi Award, WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival
2010 First Prize, Documentary Section, New York International Film Festival
DVD / 2010 / (Adult) / 29 minutes
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By Renee Bergan and Mark Schuller
Told through the compelling lives of five courageous Haitian women workers, Poto Mitan gives the global economy a human face. Each woman's personal story explains neoliberal globalization, how it is gendered, and how it impacts Haiti. And while Poto Mitan offers in-depth understanding of Haiti, its focus on women's subjugation, worker exploitation, poverty, and resistance makes it clear that these are global struggles.
Marie-Jeanne details her dual struggles as a woman and worker: employed in a garment factory, she toils under miserable conditions to give her children the schooling she was denied because of education's high costs and gender discrimination. Living and braving death in Cite Soleil, Solange spells out how Haiti's current violence stems from a long-brewing economic crisis and the global apparel industry's inherent instability. Frustrated with male-dominated unions, Frisline joined a woman's organization. She offers a gendered and class analysis of Haiti's contemporary situation. Working for thirty years, Therese brings a perspective that is historical and comparative. Her ailments also highlight the critical state of public health. Pushed off her land by foreign agricultural policies, Helene leads a new grassroots campaign against violence, encouraging women to defend themselves. These five brave women demonstrate that despite monumental obstacles in a poor country like Haiti, collective action makes change possible.
Initiated by the women themselves, Poto Mitan aims to inspire solidarity activism to end injustice in the global economy. Our struggles have a common thread. Fighting for justice: for women, workers, or Haiti can't help but bring about our own liberation.
"A moving and stirring film, showing Haitian women speaking for themselves. A must see." - Edwidge Danticat
"For many years now I've been telling people that fanm se poto mitan tout sosyete (women are the central pillars of society). This wonderful film is definitely a testimony of the courage, resilience and determination of Haitian women. Needless to say that I'm very thrilled! I encourage everyone to support this great endeavour!" - Marleine Bastien, MSW, LCSW, Founder/Executive Director, FANM (Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami)
"Poto Mitan will be a valuable tool. Indeed, the value of the film for advocacy and education results not just from the quality of the story telling but also from the quality of the film itself. People will want to see this film, and?.be open to demanding change from the policymakers." - Quixote Center
Nominated for Social Justice Award, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2009
Indie Spec Best Documentary Award, Boston International Film Festival, 2009
DVD (Color) / 2009 / 50 minutes
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Directed by Diana Fabianova
When filmmaker Diana Fabianova reached puberty, she found herself irremediably trapped in menstrual etiquette. She carefully hid the evidence from her father and brother first, and later on, from most of the other men in her life. And no matter how bad she felt, she pretended she was fine. The taboo far exceeded the scope of her family: it was all around her. Periods were a "girl thing." Periods were shameful. Periods were inappropriate for public discussion. End of the story? Not quite. Something in her was reluctant to accept and suffer in silence. Why did the sign of what all societies consider a blessing -- women's ability to give birth -- happen to be described with names and expressions like "the curse" (in England), the "English war debarquement" (in France), and "to be on the rags" (in the U.S.)?
With humor and refreshing candor, Fabianova's Red Moon provides a fascinating, often ironic, take on the absurd and frequently dangerous cultural stigmas and superstitions surrounding women's menstruation. As educational as it is liberating, the film functions as both a myth-busting overview of the realities of menstruation, and a piercing cultural analysis of the ways in which struggles over meaning and power have played out through history on the terrain of women's bodies. Ideal for use in women's studies and health courses, as well as classes in anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies.
DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2009 / 53 minutes
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By Diana Paul
Once there were thousands of licensed Granny Midwives throughout the South. Now there are none. Who were they? Where did they go? Because of segregation, many Americans knew nothing about natural home birth with experienced Grannies like Margaret Charles Smith who learned from each other and could deal with breech deliveries, multiple births and other situations with no medical instruments or drugs. Miss Margaret's mother tells of saving a one-and-a-half-pound baby by making an incubator out of a cardboard box and hot water bottles.
Miss Margaret successfully attended over 3,500 home births without a single maternal death, worked a farm like a man and triumphed over the advesities of Jim Crow, poverty, lack of education and the slavery of sharecropping. "I've been through the wringer," she says of living in Greene County, Alabama, a Ku Klux Klan stronghold where, according to Ralph Abernathy, "racism was so entrenched that winning the right to vote there was more historic than man's walk on the moon."
Film crews gathered footage and interviews from Miss Margaret and her neighbors in Eutaw, Alabama in 2001 and 2002. Music, archival photos, footage from the 1950's George Stoney film All My Babies, and Miss Margaret's narrative move us through 100 years of history in a unique community far from mainstream America. In Mrs. Smith's own voice, themes of work, birth, death, and faith are explored.
Today, Eutlaw is still self-segregated, and 95% of US births happen in hospitals, 90% of babies are born on drugs, 24% of the births are by cesarean section, and most obstetricians have never attended nor even seen a natural birth. Shy and modest in service to others all her life, Miss Margaret says, "I ain't scared to tell what I know. I'll die with what I know."
DVD (Color) / 2008 / 40 minutes
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By Ines Hofmann Kanna
(un)veiled introduces the audience to ten Muslim women from various backgrounds who now live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Their discussion about hijab, the headscarf, revolves around a lecture on the same topic that was banned last minute but delivered anyway. In a time when Islam and especially Muslim women are represented as monolithic and beset by backwardness, the women in (un)veiled show the diverse, lively, argumentative debates in Muslim societies about the meanings of modernity, emancipation, and feminism.
Dubai, where the filmmaker lived for eight months, becomes a character in itself, showing the complex face of a contemporary Arab city.
DVD (Color) / 2007 / 36 minutes
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