Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Women of the world unite

Film festival highlights global challenges

Express Staff Writer

Daniel Junge, the twice Oscar-nominated filmmaker will be coming to Sun Valley to present his film “Saving Face,” along with Pakistani plastic surgeon, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who is featured in the documentary. Courtesy Family of Women Festival

There is a spirit of endurance that women possess that both frightens and fascinates. And as is the case in most things one is able to do, consciously or unconsciously, it defies explanation.

It just is.

But it is the role of storytellers to drive these questions to the forefront, and, if not to solve the inherent problem, then at least to expose them to discussion—to inflame, inspire and perhaps, effect a solution.

Such is the basis for the films that Sun Valley resident Peggy Goldwyn seeks for the Family of Woman Film Festival, now in its fifth year. Goldwyn is on the board of the United Nations Population Fund, an entity that as an international development agency promotes the rights of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA gathers population data to help determine policy and programs for the reduction of poverty, unwanted pregnancy and disease while raising the status of women and girls worldwide to the basic level of dignity and respect.

"There's nothing like a film for storytelling," Goldwyn said. "People stagger out saying, 'I had no idea.' If it moves three of them, that's great."

Goldwyn said her work has established without a doubt that when women are educated, they marry later, have children later and find mates who aren't opposed to who they are as women.

Children who are born unwanted and left to orphanages or the street are ripe for terrorism recruitment, she said.

It's not that our country is not flawed and deserving of focus, but that in a global community, the issues can't be isolated geographically.

"There is an interconnectedness," Goldwyn said. "If you get to understand what's going on in other countries, you see our country differently."

The films

Cairo 6.7.8: The story of three Egyptian women, each with a trauma, whose lives intersect. There's a conservative mother who has to endure groping as she rides the bus to work every day, an artist caught in a post-football wilding episode and molested by men in celebration and a young woman who was dragged by her chest alongside a man's truck and her story of refusing to give up the lawsuit against him.

Boxing with Her: It's Tunisia's "Million Dollar Baby" times 10 as this film shadows female boxers from Tunisia who have won African and world titles. The camera follows them from the ring into their lives at work and home and with the men in their lives as they shatter stereotypes with their champion fists and determined hearts.

Salaam Dunk: Basketball is more than a game in Iraq—it's an oddly level playing field where women from all ethnicities and sects at the American University connect under the direction of a loving coach from America.

The Price of Sex: Bulgarian filmmaker Mimi Chakarova achieves unprecedented access to the underground criminal network of human trafficking, even posing as a prostitute to finesse the story that travels through Bulgaria, Moldavia, Cairo, Dubai and Instanbul.

Saving Face: This documentary follows Dr. Jawad, an internationally renowned plastic surgeon in London, who travels to his native Pakistan where he works to help women who have been victims of acid attacks.

The Family of Woman Film Festival

When: March 2-4

Where: Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley Opera House

What: Five feature-length films exploring and exposing the condition in countries overseen by the United Nations Population Fund.

Tickets: $15 per film, $60 for all. Can be purchased at Chapter One Bookstore and Iconoclast Books and at the box office on film day.

For more on the festival:

For more on the United Nations Population Fund:

Highlights this year: Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA and undersecretary general of the United Nations will be present at the festival.

Filmmakers will be present to answer questions after each film.

Community Library event: Thursday, March 1, at 6 p.m. Free public lecture by Dr. Henia Dakkak, of the United Nations Population Fund Human Resource Division. Dakkak will speak on the role of women in the Arab Spring and will answer questions after screenings of the films from Egypt, Tunisia and Iraq.

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