Wednesday, January 2, 2013

‘Women and War’

Family of Woman film fest takes shape

Express Staff Writer

The plight of women is often determined by the influences of war. This year’s film festival will focus on Women and War. Courtesy photo

    Even with a global information network, the experiences of individual soldiers fighting abroad often get scrambled, overshadowed by other news or reduced to sound bytes. But this winter two organizations are putting war on the forefront of Sun Valley residents’ mind in 2013.
    The Family of Woman Festival has chosen to focus on the theme “Women and War” for its sixth annual season, which starts Feb. 28. The theme dovetails with a multidisciplinary exhibit at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts called “Home Front,” which focuses on the realities of returning soldiers. It will be on display Feb. 23 to May 3 in Ketchum, and includes a reading of “Time Stands Still,” a play by Donald Margulies about a photojournalist and her reporter boyfriend who have returned to the states after covering war in Iraq.
    The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works in more than 150 countries, pursuing a mission of creating a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. The organization, led by Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, under-secretary general of the United Nations, promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. Friends of UNFPA advances this global effort by mobilizing funds and action for UNFPA’s lifesaving work.
    The Family of Woman Festival was founded in 2007 by Friends of UNFPA board member and Sun Valley resident Peggy Elliott Goldwyn, and is co-chaired by Stephanie Freid-Perenchio, also a Friends of UNFPA board member and Sun Valley resident.
    Along with documentaries and dramas highlighting the status of women in the developing world, the program will include presentations by filmmakers and guest speakers from UNFPA. It will begin with a lecture at the Community Library on Feb. 28 and continue through March 3 in the Sun Valley Opera House.
    Goldwyn said Osotimehin will be present at the festival to help with the educational effort, along with more filmmakers than ever.
    “The Invisible War” is in the round of 16 for Best Documentary at the Academy Awards. It is a powerful subject: American servicewomen raped by their own troops.
    “We not only have the filmmaker, but one of the subjects,” Goldwyn said.
    Because of Higher Ground, formerly Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, has had servicewomen in its Wounded Warriors program suffering from PTSD from these rapes, the festival is connecting with them on opening night for a benefit cocktail party. Freid-Perenchio will host a special gallery walk including work by wounded warriors as well as UNFPA photos of women in war-torn countries.
    “The World Before Her” won Best Documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. It contrasts the lives of young women in India competing in the Miss India contest with other young women attending a Hindu fundamentalist boot camp, where they are taught martial arts and how to handle automatic weapons. Both groups feel they are being empowered; both are also being used.  Nishua Pahuja, the filmmaker, will be here for that film.
    “War Witch” is Canada’s nominee for Best Foreign Film. Shot in French in the Congo, the film tells the story of a young girl whose parents are killed along with the other adults in her village, and she is taken as a child soldier.
    “It is so vivid that I forgot I was watching a piece of fiction until I realized if it were real, the cameraman would be dead by now,” Goldwyn said of her selection. “It is considered as a strong possibility as a finalist and the remarkable young girl won best actress at Sundance.”
    “Weapon of War” explores the psychology of the men who perpetrate violence against women during wartime.
    “There are some remarkable scenes,” Goldwyn said, “including a man who suffers from PTSD himself because he is haunted by what he has done and wants to seek out his victims and beg forgiveness.”
    “Words of Witness” is a story of the women of the Arab Spring. It follows a brave young woman journalist in Cairo through the revolution and election.
    For more information and to get up-to-date information, visit

2013 Lineup:
What: “Women and War,” a free public lecture presented by the United Nations Population Fund, followed by an invitation-only reception for Sponsors and Founders’ Circle members with filmmakers and speakers.
When: Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m.
Where: The Community Library

What: “The Invisible War,” a feature-length documentary (USA) presented by filmmaker Amy Zeiring. Special appearance by Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA and under-secretary general of the United Nations. Invitation-only reception follows for sponsors and guests of Higher Ground with filmmakers and speakers.
When: Friday, March 1, at 6 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Opera House

What: “Weapon of War,” a feature-length documentary (Democratic Republic of Congo), followed by question and answer with UNFPA humanitarian relief official.
When: Saturday, March 2, at 3 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Opera House

What: “The World Before Her,” a feature-length documentary (India), presented by filmmaker Nishua Pahuja.
When: Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Opera House

What: “Words of Witness,” a feature-length documentary (Egypt).
When: Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Opera House

What: “War Witch,” the premiere of a feature-length drama (Canada/Democratic Republic of Congo), presented by filmmaker Kim Nguyen.
When: Sunday, March 3, at 7 p.m.
Where: Sun Valley Opera House


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