FILM & TV.
DIRECTED BY SARA MANI
Khatera Golzad is a pregnant 23-year-old Afghanistan woman who was repeatedly beaten and raped by her father for 13 years. When she gave birth to one infant, her father took it from her arms and left it in the desert. After several aborted pregnancies, Khatera gave birth to a daughter. Then, when Khatera was impregnated by her father again, she decided to go public and was encouraged to continue the pregnancy as evidence against her father.
Despite Khatera's many attempts to file charges, she received no help from the police or the legal system. As a last hope, she appeared on national television in 2014 to publicly accuse her father, and she finally succeeded in bringing her case to court despite threats from male relatives and judges who labelled her a liar.
The story was made into the documentary A Thousand Girls Like Me by filmmaker Sara Mani. Khatera won her case and lives in fear of her father's threats of retaliation from prison. Khatera's mother and brothers still live in Afghanistan. Khatera now lives in France with her fiance and children.
DIRECTED BY MORRISA MALTZ
In the 1980's, Ingrid Gipson was a successful German-American fashion designer based in Texas. In her 50s, she took her knapsack and moved to the middle of the bush. Gipson slept under the stars, lit fires for warmth and scavenged from the natural world for food.
She picked stones out of the ground, and stone by stone, she built a house. Now she lives on her land. Ingrid, by filmmaker Morrisa Maltz, documents the life of this individualist who is now in her 70s. Gipson tells her story through a series of interviews as she walks us through her life. We see Ingrid take a rabbit out of a hutch, cover it in a blanket and tell the rabbit she loves it. When the rabbit is calm, she kills and skins it. She assists in the birth of a goat. She creates art. And she talks about leaving her family, as well as her life and social constructs behind.
"I had to learn what questions to ask of life. Would I want to meet myself down the road and see that woman rather than this woman?" she wonders.
The film is an existential meditation on the transcendent nature of solitude and the natural world. Ingrid was part of the 6th annual Women's Voices Now Online Film Festival. It celebrates the best social-impact films featuring women in film and women's rights issues. Women's Voices Now curates a free streaming service for feminist and social impact films in their archive. http://www.womensvoicesnow.org/
DIRECTED BY LAURA BARI
Primas, a Canadian documentary by filmmaker Laura Bari (born in Argentina), tells the story of Rocio, an Argentinian girl who at the age of 10 was abducted while riding her bicycle. Her assailant stuffed her in the back of a car and hit her over the head with a hammer. Rocio was then raped, lit on fire and left in a field.
Rocio woke up in flames and walked to the highway where a truck driver rescued her. Throughout the film, the details of her story are gradually told by Rocio herself through narration of her diary and conversations with her cousin, Aldana, who also survived abuse. Bari layers Rocio's monologue and the dialogue between Rocio and Aldana against images of the Argentinian countryside and juxtaposes images of discussions between the girls with news footage.
The film follows Rocio's life--getting fitted for a skirt, going to nightclubs, hanging out with family, friends and going to her high school graduation. The girls go on a trip to Quebec where they begin to work through their trauma through dance and theatre. This beautiful and harrowing documentary is a testament to the vitality and resilience of the human spirit, an expressionistic nightmare embroidered with an unbreakable thread of joy.
A BETTER MAN
DIRECTED BY ATTIYA KHAN AND LAWRENCE JACKMAN
In the courageous NFB documentary, A Better Man, directed by Lawrence Jackman and Attiya Khan, a former couple (Attiya Khan and her ex-boyfriend, "Steve") revisit the abuse in their relationship, at times with the help of a skilled therapist who appears in the film. After dating as teens, the two bumped into each other 20 years later, when Attiya has become a writer and advocate for victims of violence against women.
Steve is a willing participant in the film, which tells a story about spousal abuse and its lasting trauma. Steve does not defend his actions but allows Attiya and the therapist to lead the journey toward her healing. Attiya does not attack Steve, but lays out the abuse with statements like, "I wish I had said more. How could you not remember abusing me every day in that house?" She expresses incisive curiosity with questions like "Do you remember when X happened?"
Steve squirms and the pain in his face is palpable. He strangled her frequently. He says he wants to become "a better man." When asked about his concept of justice for Attiya, Steve knows he doesn't have the answers. "I want to know if she feels that justice has taken place and whatever definition she has about that."
There is no happily ever after here. But if there were a hopeful film about domestic abuse, this would be it. NFB films can be watched online https://www.nfb.ca.
BY MAUREEN MEDVED