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A film by Kim Longinotto
UK/India, 2013, 89 minutes, Color, DVD, Tamil, Subtitled
Order No. W131091
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.

Buy the Book: Salma: Filming a Poet in Her Village


Documentary Edge Festival, Best International Feature and Best International Director
Stuttgart Indian Film Festival, Best Documentary
Nominated, Prix Europa
International Human Rights Films Festival, Tunis, Best Film
Grierson Award, Nominated Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme - International
Berlinale, 2nd Place Audience Award
Stuttgart Indian Film Festival, German Star of India
Tempo Film Festival Sweden, Honorable Mention

  • Sundance Film Festival
  • Berlin International Film Festival, Second Place Panorama Audience Awards
  • Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
  • One World Film Festival, Prague
  • San Francisco International Film Festival
  • Documentary Edge Festival
  • Movies that Matter
  • Sarasota Film Festival
  • Seattle International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival, NY
  • Sheffield Film Festival
  • Human Rights Film Festival, London
  • Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
  • It's All True Film Festival
  • Cleveland International Film Festival
  • International Women's Film Festival Seoul
  • Flying Broom Women's Film Festival
  • Women's Film Festival Armenia
  • FEMCINE Chile
  • Films from the South
  • Docville Film Festival
  • Durban International Film Festival
  • Antenna Film Festival
  • Costa Rica Film Festival
  • Dominican Republic Film Festival
  • Rencontres Internationales de Documentaire de Montreal
  • Mumbai Film Festival

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    "3 1/2 *** Highly Recommended...This deeply emotional and inspiring portrait highlights the ongoing struggle of South Indian women to become educated and reject repressive traditions."
    M. Puffer-Rosenberg
    Video Librarian

    "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

    “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

    "It's incredibly powerful when you are left with the heaviness of a complex reality… While Salma's successes and continued influences on women's lives are powerful forces, the battle is not won. The film does a beautiful job showing that."
    Leigh Kolb
    Bitch Flicks

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    Salma is included in the following Special Collections.
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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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