New Directions: Women of Zimbabwe

A film by Joanne Burke

France/Zimbabwe | 1997 | 145 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 00649

Available only as part of the series New Directions.


From award-winning documentarian Joanne Burke's series about women's empowerment in developing countries, WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE focuses on a group of five daring women who have taken up the challenge of creating their own future in the traditionally male field of carpentry. At its center is Fatima Shoriwa, an inspiration to many of her countrywomen. Owner of a thriving carpentry business, she also openly advocates education, family planning, safe sex practices, and economic self-sufficiency for women. The group's other four members are Fatima's apprentices, who range in age from seventeen to twenty-three. Shown at work as mutually supportive members of a collaborative team, at home with their children, and on visits to their families in rural Zimbabwe, all five offer unique insights into the choices and changes in their lives as well as the traditional customs and roles that have shaped their experience.


“An uplifting and hopeful story…powerful source material for both academic and labor education about globalization and its impact on poor countries.”

Labor Studies Journal

"This inspiring story of how one woman has used entry into a nontraditional work area to achieve empowerment for herself and others offers lessons for all of us interested in women's self-employment and gender equality. While the example is from Africa, the principles that emerge are widely applicable."

Joanne Sandler UNIFEM

"An impressive and also highly enjoyable film, on a heartening theme. Brilliantly captures the characters and personalities of the women and their efforts to build better lives."

David Cope Ashoka Foundation, U.K.

"Joanne Burke's 'Women of Zimbabwe' is poetry in motion and clearly an affirmation of life."

Tricia Danielle Keaton Education Department, University of California, Berkeley


Joanne Burke

Joanne Burke is a documentary film and video producer with long years of top-level experience. She has directed nine documentaries, including an hour-length film on jazz great Mary Lou Williams, MUSIC ON MY MIND (1990), broadcast on PBS, CBS, LaSept/Arte and other European channels.

She produced and directed a series of half-hour video documentaries entitled NEW DIRECTIONS on innovative women in developing countries. WOMEN OF ZIMBABWE was completed in 1996, WOMEN OF THAILAND in 1998, WOMEN OF GUATEMALA in 2000, and SPEAKING OUT: WOMEN, AIDS, AND HOPE IN MALI in 2002. She has also produced two short documentaries on the history of Americans in France during the First World War, THE LAFAYETTE ESCADRILLE (1995) and ANNE MORGAN: AN AMERICAN IN FRANCE (1997). Joanne Burke has edited more than twenty long-form documentaries for CBS, NBC and PBS, many of them winners of major awards, such as Tom Spain's multiple Emmy-winning ANY PLACE BUT HERE and Harry Morgan's FATHERS AND SONS for CBS News. She has also edited three feature films for Sidney Lumet, including THE ANDERSON TAPES with Sean Connery, and co-edited GIMME SHELTER, the Maysles Brothers and Charlotte Zwerin's documentary feature on the Rolling Stones. She also taught film editing for five years at NYU and eight years at the School For Visual Arts.

Her latest production is a compilation of six short documentaries, WHEN AFRICANS AMERICANS CAME TO PARIS, released in 2012. She is now working on PARIS NOIR, AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE CITY OF LIGHT, an hour-length documentary about African American writers, artists, jazz musicians, and Josephine Baker in France in the period from 1918 to 1940. All the films of the Paris years have been independently produced in partnership with her writer/cameraman husband David Burke. (03/19)


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