Hidden Faces

A film by Claire Hunt and Kim Longinotto

England | 1990 | 52 minutes | Color | 16mm/DVD | Order No. 99238

SYNOPSIS

Originally intended as a film about internationally renowned feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi, HIDDEN FACES develops into a fascinating portrayal of Egyptian women’s lives in Muslim society. In this collaborative documentary, Safaa Fathay, a young Egyptian woman living in Paris, returns home to interview the famed writer and activist, but becomes disillusioned with her. Illuminated by passages from El Saadawi’s work, the film follows Fathay’s journey to her family home and discovers similar complex frictions between modernity and tradition. Her mother’s decision to return to the veil after twenty years and her cousins’ clitoridectomies reveal a disturbing renewal of fundamentalism. This absorbing documentary broaches the contradictions of feminism in a Muslim environment; a startling, unforgettable picture of contemporary women in the Arab world.

PRESS

“Extremely helpful for other women of color, while it may also bring ‘western’ feminists a step closer to understanding the struggles of women in Egypt.”

Simone Farkondeh DCTV

“Tells you more about Mubarak’s Egypt than ten formal news programs.”

The Guardian

SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS

  • Films de Femmes, Créteil, France, Public Prize and Jury Special Mention
  • Melbourne Film Festival, Best Documentary
  • Cinema du Réel, France

ABOUT FILMMAKER(S)

Claire Hunt

Kim Longinotto

Kim Longinotto (born 1952) is a British documentary filmmaker, well known for making films that highlight the plight of female victims of oppression or discrimination. Longinotto studied camera and directing at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England, where she now tutors occasionally.

Longinotto was born to an Italian father and a Welsh mother; her father was a photographer who later went bankrupt. At the age of 10 she was sent to a draconian all-girls boarding school, where she found it hard to make friends due to the mistress forbidding anyone to talk to her for a term after she became lost during a school trip. After a period of homelessness, Longinotto went on to Essex University to study English and European literature and later followed friend and future filmmaker, Nick Broomfield to the National Film and Television School. While studying, she made a documentary about her boarding school that was shown at the London Film Festival, since when she has continued to be a prolific documentary filmmaker.

Longinotto is an observational filmmaker. Observational cinema, also known as direct cinema, free cinema or cinema verite, usually excludes certain documentary techniques such as advanced planning, scripting, staging, narration, lighting, reenactment and interviewing. Longinotto’s unobtrusiveness, which is an important part of observational documentary, gives the women on camera a certain voice and presence that may not have emerged with another documentary genre. She has received a number of awards for her films over the years, including a BAFTA for her documentary PINK SARIS.

Among her more than 20 films, she has followed a teenager struggling to become a wrestling star in 2000’s GAEA GIRLS, challenged the tradition of female genital mutilation in Kenya in 2002’s THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET, and told the story of an Indian Muslim woman who smuggled poetry out to the world while locked up by her family in 2013’s SALMA. In 2015's DREAMCATCHER Longinotto looks at the life and work of a former sex worker who rescues Chicago girls from the street.

Her new film SHOOTING THE MAFIA, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (3/19)

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