Sarabah

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.
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Sweatshop Cinderella: A Portrait of Anzia Yezierska

In the forefront of early twentieth-century American literature about immigrant women’s lives, Anzia Yezierska’s work includes short fiction, novels, and essays, and her output spans 50 years. SWEATSHOP CINDERELLA, by award-winning filmmaker/historian Suzanne Wasserman, vividly depicts this Jewish immigrant writer’s amazing story. Arriving from Poland around 1890, Yezierska’s family settled on the Lower East Side, where she toiled in sweatshops and laundries, studying English at night. Defying her parents, she pursued her education and became a teacher. Twice married and divorced, she also had a daughter. At the urging of philosopher John Dewey, with whom she fell in and out of love, Yezierska devoted herself full-time to writing stories and novels in Yiddish-English dialect that won awards and rave reviews. Soon Hollywood, which turned two of her works into movies, beckoned her to write screenplays. When disenchantment with that world set in, she returned to New York, writing and publishing her best work between 1922 and 1950. Using archival stills and footage, silent film excerpts, letters, newspaper clippings, and interviews, this is a major contribution to our understanding and appreciation of Yezierska and her work.
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Latching On

After filmmaker Katja Esson’s sister gave birth in Germany, she was able to breastfeed her baby anywhere and at any time. Returning home to New York, Esson found that breastfeeding was rarely practiced and largely unseen. Academy Award® Nominee Esson (Ferry Tales) turned her quirky eye on the subject and set out to learn why this was so. Her wide-ranging, frequently funny documentary highlights the intersecting economic, social, and cultural forces that have helped replace mother’s milk with formula produced by a billion dollar industry, and reveals the challenges and rewards for women who buck the trend. Latching On draws on lively first-hand accounts from mothers of diverse ethnicities and economic backgrounds, as well as candid observations by pediatricians, healthcare providers, lactation specialists, and the proprietor of New York’s first breastfeeding boutique. Including data about paid maternity leave, hospital post-delivery policies, and workplace accommodations for nursing mothers, the film compares current US practices with standards adopted elsewhere. Tensions around public breastfeeding and "breast is best" promotion campaigns highlight society's perceived interest in regulating women's reproductive behavior, as well as the power of culture to assign sexual and moral meaning to mothers' bodies. Entertaining and insightful, Latching On is an important analysis of the politics of breastfeeding, illuminating the complexities behind a simple, natural act.
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Pushing the Elephant

In the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo lost her family and home to the violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo. She emerged advocating forgiveness and reconciliation. In a country where ethnic violence has created seemingly irreparable rifts among Tutsis, Hutus and other Congolese, this remarkable woman is a vital voice in her beleaguered nation’s search for peace. When war came to Rose’s village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. Rose managed to escape with nine of her ten children and was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. Over a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the US where they must face the past and build a new future. As mother and daughter get to know one another, they must come to terms with a painful past, and define what it means to be a survivor, a woman, a refugee and an American. Through this intimate family portrait unfolding against the wider drama of war, we explore the long-term and often hidden effects of war on women and families, particularly those in traditional societies—financial despair, increased susceptibility to rape, and social ostracism. PUSHING THE ELEPHANT captures one of the most important stories of our age, a time when genocidal violence is challenged by the moral fortitude and grace of one woman’s mission for peace. This is a powerful first-person portrait of an indomitable woman dedicated to peace and the healing power of forgiveness. A moving, joyful and hopeful chronicle of refugee experience and acculturation in the U.S. today, PUSHING THE ELEPHANT is also an insightful portrait of the changing face of immigration in our increasingly diverse society.
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Orchids: My Intersex Adventure

Gen X filmmaker Phoebe Hart always knew she was different growing up – but she didn’t know why. This award-winning documentary traces Phoebe’s voyage of self-discovery as an intersex person, a group of conditions formerly termed hermaphroditism. Learning only in her teens that she was born with 46XY (male) chromosomes, Hart now seeks to understand her own story and the stories of others affected by this complex and often shameful syndrome. With help from sister Bonnie (born with the same condition) and support from partner James, Hart drives across Australia, interviewing individuals whose struggles and victories mirror and differ from her own. Some advocate systemic change ending shame and controversial genital surgeries, while others debate coming out or staying closeted with a stigmatized secret. Questioning rigidly defined constructs of gender, sexuality, and normality, often with lively good humor, ORCHIDS is the first film to look at intersex from a positive perspective. Its engaging portrait of survival, courage and reconciliation will speak to a variety of audiences and spark lively discussion about what it means to be perceived as "different."
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Voices Unveiled: Turkish Women Who Dare

Can Islamic values co-exist with full equality for women? VOICES UNVEILED examines this timely issue through portraits of three women pursuing life paths and careers of their own choosing in present-day Turkey. Each has defied social expectations in a democratic, secular nation where religious fundamentalism has re-emerged as a political force and patriarchal values still prevail. Well-known textile artist Belkis Belpinar, whose work combines science and kilim rug traditions, resisted her father’s wishes that she study engineering. Dancer and psychologist Banu Yucelar braved family opposition to modern dance, widely perceived as a form of prostitution. Women’s rights activist Nur Bakata Mardin helps women in underserved communities, where old beliefs hold sway, form small business cooperatives. As engaging as its subjects, VOICES UNVEILED punctuates its in-depth portraits with insights from other Turks and lively discussions that include intergenerational debates over veiling. The film is a valuable companion to WOMEN OF TURKEY, which offers a different take on gender roles that embrace modern lifestyles and Islamic culture.
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Sisters in Arms

Canada is one of a handful of countries that permit women to fight in ground combat. In January 2013, the Pentagon lifted its ban on women in combat roles. In 2016, for the first time in American history, women will be permitted to train as combat soldiers. Sisters In Arms reveals the untold stories of three remarkable women in the most difficult and dangerous military professions: facing combat on the frontlines in Afghanistan. Corporal Katie Hodges is a determined infantry soldier; Corporal Tamar Freeman, a trained medical professional; and Master Corporal Kimberley Ashton, a combat engineer and mother who has left behind three young daughters. Using video diaries filmed by the soldiers in Afghanistan and intimate personal interviews, Sisters in Arms tells their stories of loss and inspiration from a uniquely female perspective, challenging our perceptions of what constitutes a soldier.
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Pink Saris

“A girl’s life is cruel...A woman’s life is very cruel,” notes Sampat Pal, the complex protagonist at the center of PINK SARIS, internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto’s latest foray into the lives of extraordinary women (SISTERS IN LAW, DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE, ROUGH AUNTIES). Sampat should know – like many others she was married as a young girl into a family which made her work hard and beat her often. But unusually, she fought back, leaving her in-laws and eventually becoming famous as a champion for beleaguered women throughout Uttar Pradesh, many of whom find their way to her doorstep. Like Rekha, a fourteen year old Untouchable, who is three months pregnant and homeless – unable to marry her unborn child’s father because of her low caste. Fifteen year old Renu's husband from an arranged marriage has abandoned her, her father-in-law has been raping her and she's threatening to throw herself under a train. Both young women, frightened and desperate, reach out for their only hope: Sampat Pal and her Gulabi Gang, Northern India’s women vigilantes in pink. PINK SARIS is an unflinching and often amusing look at these unlikely political activists and their charismatic leader; in extraordinary scenes, we watch Sampat launch herself into the centre of family dramas, witnessed by scores of spectators, convinced her mediation is the best path for these vulnerable girls. Her partner Babuji, who has watched Sampat change over the years, is less certain...
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Umoja

UMOJA (Kiswahili for “unity”) tells the life-changing story of a group of impoverished tribal Samburu women in Northern Kenya who turn age-old patriarchy on its head by setting up a women-only village. Their story began in the 1990s, when several hundred women accused British soldiers from a nearby military base of rape. In keeping with traditional Samburu customs, the women were blamed for this abuse and cast out by their husbands for bringing shame to their families. Learning of their plight, Rebecca Lolosoli, a tireless women’s rights advocate, helps the banished women establish a new village, Umoja, on an unoccupied field in the grass­lands. No men are allowed. Soon the women turn their fate around, launching a handicrafts business targeting the tourist trade. Their success and increasing fame incurs the men’s jealousy and wrath, setting off an unusual, occasionally hilarious, gender war. But in this award-winning documentary, which deftly blends fast-paced reportage with serious social critique, women who have reclaimed their lives clearly emerge the victors.
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Maria in Nobody's Land

MARIA IN NOBODY'S LAND is an unprecedented and intimate look at the illegal and extremely dangerous journey of three Salvadoran women to the US.
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In the Name of the Family

Schoolgirl Aqsa Parvez, sisters Amina and Sarah Said, and college student Fauzia Muhammad were all North American teenagers—and victims of premeditated, murderous attacks by male family members. Only Muhammad survived. Emmy® winner Shelley Saywell examines each case in depth in this riveting investigation of "honor killings" of girls in Muslim immigrant families. Not sanctioned by Islam, the brutalization and violence against young women for defying male authority derives from ancient tribal notions of honor and family shame. As friends and relatives trace escalating tensions leading to the crimes, IN THE NAME OF THE FAMILY explores community reactions to the tragic events. The film also delves into the dual, precarious existence of other young Muslim women struggling to bridge two worlds, along with Muslim women’s efforts to help girls at special risk. With consummate documentary skills and a passion for human rights, Saywell puts a much needed human face on a subject that is all too often silenced or sensationalized in post-9/11 North America.
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Made in India: A Film about Surrogacy

In San Antonio, Lisa and Brian Switzer risk their savings with a Medical Tourism company promising them an affordable solution after seven years of infertility. Halfway around the world in Mumbai, 27-year-old Aasia Khan, mother of three, contracts with a fertility clinic to be implanted with the Texas couple’s embryos. MADE IN INDIA, about real people involved in international surrogacy, follows the Switzers and Aasia through every stage of the process. With its dual focus, this emotionally charged, thoroughly absorbing film charts obstacles faced by the Switzers and presents intimate insights into Aasia’s circumstances and motivation. As their stories become increasingly intertwined, the bigger picture behind offshore outsourcing of pregnancies—a booming, unregulated reproductive industry valued at $450 million in India alone—begins to emerge. So do revealing questions about international surrogacy’s legal and ethical implications, global corporate practices, human and reproductive rights, and commodification of the body.
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Dish

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

TEA & JUSTICE chronicles the experiences of three women who joined the New York Police Department during the 1980s—the first Asian women to become members of a force that was largely white and predominantly male. In this award-winning documentary, Officer Trish Ormsby and Detectives Agnes Chan and Christine Leung share their fascinating stories about careers and personal lives, as well as satisfactions and risks on the job, the stereotypes they defied, and how they persevered. Intrigued by the image of Asian women in a non-traditional profession, filmmaker Ermena Vinluan explores her own mixed feelings about cops while honoring the challenges Ormsby, Chan and Leung embraced, and the far-reaching changes they helped bring about. Interviews with ordinary New Yorkers, leading advocates of law enforcement reform, and anti-police abuse activists consider proposed changes in police culture and explain how women’s preventive policing style, based on communication, contrasts with more reactive, physically forceful methods used by men. Humorous cartoons, lively graphics depicting cultural icons of strong Asian women, and original music enhance this nuanced study of race, gender, and power.
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Mother, Lebanon & Me

A visually striking meditation on loss and a perceptive political critique, this deeply personal work has two subjects: filmmaker Olga Naccache’s ailing mother and the chaotic country where Naccache was raised. Both fell sick in 1975, the onset of incurable depression for one and a bloody civil war ushering in deep divisions for the other. In this sequel to LEBANON: BITS AND PIECES (1994), Naccache ponders the plight of the country she clearly loves while honoring the mother dear to her. Her montage draws on conversations with Naccache's mother toward the end of life, along with footage of this beautiful, accomplished woman and ardent secularist in more physically robust times. Stunning scenes of tranquil Beirut and southern Lebanon contrast with close-ups of a nation under siege from within and abroad. Recent interviews with two longtime friends—a leftist teacher of philosophy in a Christian village school and a Shiite Muslim viewing Hezbollah as Lebanon’s only hope—raise crucial questions about the nation’s identity and precarious future.
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THE HERETICS

Tracing the influence of the Women’s Movement’s Second Wave on art and life, THE HERETICS is the exhilarating inside story of the New York feminist art collective that produced “Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics” (1977-92). In this feature-length documentary, cutting-edge video artist/writer/director Joan Braderman, who joined the group in 1975 as an aspiring filmmaker, charts the collective’s challenges to terms of gender and power and its history as a microcosm of the period’s broader transformations. On the road with her camera crew from New Mexico to Italy, Braderman reconnects with 28 other group members, including writer/critic Lucy Lippard, architect Susanna Torre, filmmaker Su Friedrich, and artists Ida Applebroog, Mary Miss, Miriam Schapiro, and Cecilia Vicuña. Still funny, smart and sexy, the geographically dispersed participants revisit how and why they came together and the extraordinary times they shared—supporting and exploring women’s art and demanding the right to be heard. Enlivened by striking digital motion graphics, THE HERETICS intercuts interviews with archival film clips, video and stills from the period, texts and images from “Heresies” magazines, and footage of completed artworks and works-in-progress. An exuberant, multi-layered collage, the film brings the Heresies collective—and its strategies for unlocking the potential in women’s lives—vividly to the screen.
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Africa is a Woman's Name

AFRICA IS A WOMAN’S NAME provides an opportunity for three of Africa’s leading filmmakers to tell their own country’s stories through the lives of the powerful women working to create change. Veteran filmmakers Wanjiru Kinyanjui, from Zimbabwe, and Bridget Pickering, from South Africa, join Kenyan Ingrid Sinclair, director of the critically acclaimed feature film FLAME, to profile three diverse women who eloquently demonstrate the power of women. Amai Rose, a Zimbabwean housewife and businesswoman, Phuti Ragophala, a dedicated school principal in one of South Africa’s poorest communities, and Njoki Ndung’u, a human rights attorney and member of Kenya’s parliament, tell their individual stories, reflecting upon their own achievements and failures as well as needed initiatives for women and children in their respective societies. Their richly textured self-portraits reveal the gender revolution under way among sub-Saharan women of different backgrounds and origins who are determined to transform their daily realities and the conditions of their lives.
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Arresting Ana

Sarah, a French college student runs a “pro-Ana” blog, part of a global online community of young women sharing tips on living with anorexia. Valerie Boyer is a passionate French National Assembly legislator proposing a groundbreaking bill to ban these online forums, issuing hefty fines and two-year prison sentences to their members. Eye-opening and extremely timely, ARRESTING ANA is the first film on a burgeoning movement promoting self-starvation. Pro-Ana websites are in countries around the world, but France is the first to suggest regulating them. Combining in-depth interviews of medical and academic experts with video diaries by Sarah— for whom “Ana”, short for anorexia, is a support system, friend, and motivation to stay alive—ARRESTING ANA offers unprecedented access into anorexia’s hidden underground while seeking effective solutions to ending this serious disease. This well-made documentary, which features an engrossing soundtrack and pro-Ana sites’ shocking quotes and images, is crucial for students and teachers of media studies. It also provides important insight for psychologists, social workers, sociologists, and educators on who controls women’s body issues, how young people interpret eating disorders today, and how legal and free-speech issues are contested in a new media landscape.
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Wired for Sex, Lies and Power Trips

An inside look at the culture of sexual harassment and bullying widespread among many teens today, this unique and compelling program examines the price that adolescents, especially girls, pay to be cool, hip and popular in our brave new wired world. Questioning and confronting their own and each other’s stereotypes and assumptions, three different groups of culturally diverse teenagers share personal stories of navigating their hyper-sexualized, high-tech environment, where the online posting of racy photos, raunchy videos, and explicit gossip and lies, is as commonplace as bombardment by provocative media messages that degrade and objectify women. In its unflinching exposé, the film takes us on a journey that includes candid personal interviews and diary excerpts, images from computer screens and youth nightclubs, and clips from short fictional films that the three group’s members have made about sexual and social pressures on their lives. Told through the authentic voices of teens, this essential tool for promoting awareness and change is must-see viewing for school and youth groups, media studies and women’s studies educators, educators, counselors, parents, and health care professionals.
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Mountains that Take Wing: Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama

Thirteen years, two radical activist all-stars-one conversation. Internationally renowned scholar, professor and writer Angela Davis and 89-year-old grassroots organizer and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Yuri Kochiyama spent over a decade conversing intimately about personal histories and influences that shaped them and their overlapping experiences. MOUNTAINS THAT TAKE WING offers the gift of these two remarkable women’s lives, sharing the pair’s recorded exchanges in 1996 and 2008. The film’s unique format honors the scope and depth of their knowledge on topics ranging from Jim Crow laws and Japanese American internment camps, to Civil Rights, anti-war, women’s and gay liberation movements, to today’s campaigns for political prisoners and prison reform. Intercut with compelling period footage, Davis and Kochiyama’s cogent observations, keen analyses, and steadfast resolve to create a more equitable, humane world offer inspiring lessons in empowerment and community building for current and future generations.
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My Toxic Baby

This eye-opening, often amusing documentary by the director of Tiger Spirit, winner of Canada’s prestigious Donald Brittain Gemini Award, records the filmmaker’s quest for safe, sane and affordable ways to raise her child in a world embedded with toxic threats and still lead a normal life. Although new mother Min Sook Lee breast fed her daughter from birth, she used baby bottles too, only to discover that they leached a chemical byproduct linked to impaired health and serious diseases. This set in motion a journey that exposes hidden dangers in infant bath soaps, diaper rash creams, teething toys and many everyday products from an industry largely unregulated by law. For Lee, it also uncovers risks posed by our own homes and chemical contaminants we carry within our own bodies. Her search introduces us to others, including nursing mothers and parents helping to build youngsters’ natural immune systems, who are seeking alternative choices themselves and finding healthier, environment-friendly ways to rear their children. A personal essay that packs a punch, MY TOXIC BABY throws a spotlight on non-hazardous options that are available in our chemically saturated world, and further emphasizes women’s particular concerns about environmental hazards and health.
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