Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Family of Woman beckons

Film festival benefits the United Nations Population Fund

Express Staff Writer

    “Women and War,” the theme of the sixth annual Family of Woman Film Festival, March 1-3, will not only open eyes to the issues of the global family of women but could offer a glimpse into the power that film can have over political policy.
    The festival, now in its sixth year, is held to support the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which works in more than 150 countries to ensure healthy, desired pregnancy and a social structure to support children as they grow.
    This year’s festival at the Sun Valley Opera House brings a selection of documentary and dramatic films, including two Academy Award-nominated films.
    “The Invisible War,” nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, will be the opening film, Friday, March 1, at 6 p.m. The film exposes widespread instances of sexual assault against U.S. servicewomen by their fellow servicemen.
    After revelations of such assaults against Air Force recruits by their instructors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Gen. Mark Welch, the Air Force chief of staff, met with all of the Air Force’s wing commanders and had them watch the film with him, according to an Air Force spokesman, as cited by The New York Times.
    The Times went on to say that the film “has been credited with both persuading more women to come forward to report abuse and with forcing the military to deal more openly with the problem.”
    “We are honored to be presenting a film that has the power to influence public policy,” said Peggy Goldwyn, co-chair of the festival.
    Co-chair Stephanie Perenchio added that “after seeing the film, we wanted to share the proceeds of the evening with Higher Ground because of the important role they are playing in helping both men and women in the military.”
    Erin Rheinschild, director of donor outreach for Higher Ground, said the organization seeks to help women in the military overcome adversity and improve their quality of life.
    “Our program in Sun Valley has helped rehabilitate women with military sexual trauma  through innovative methods, including coping strategies and outdoor sports therapy,” she said.
    In addition to film screenings, the Family of Woman Film Festival will present a talk by Kate Gilmore, deputy director of UNFPA, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Community Library in Ketchum.
    Gilmore, an Australian, is also assistant secretary general of the United Nations. She recently assumed her post at UNFPA after first serving as national director of Amnesty International Australia and then executive deputy secretary general of Amnesty International in London. In that global role, she was responsible for 500 professional staff in headquarters and 10 regional offices, with responsibility for Amnesty’s global strategy.
    Gilmore will also answer questions after the screening of “Weapon of War,” a documentary about rape as a tool of war in the Congo, which will be presented at the Sun Valley Opera House on Saturday, March 2, at 3 p.m.
    “War Witch,” nominated for a 2013 Academy Award as Best Foreign Film, closes the festival at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 3. The drama has been hailed for its realistic portrayal of a young girl who was kidnapped to become a child soldier, as well as for its artistic quality and sensitivity.
    “This specialization gives UNFPA a unique perspective on the needs of women in both wartime and other refugee situations, such as with natural disasters,” Perenchio said.
    Goldwyn said that besides the threat of rape, there are many other hardships that women face, such as going into labor while fleeing for their lives. UNFPA has created an emergency birthing kit small enough to easily carry.
    “The World Before Her,” will be presented by the filmmaker, Nisha Pahuja. This award-winning film from India presents a unique perspective on the ambitions of young women.
    Finally, “Words of Witness,” from Egypt, continues the story of women involved in the Arab spring. This feature-length documentary is an inside and cutting-edge look at a young woman reporter covering the Egyptian revolution in Cairo.
    Tickets are $15 per film or $60 for all festival films. Tickets are available at Chapter One Bookstore and Iconoclast Books in Ketchum. Tickets for all films will be available at the Sun Valley Opera House on the day of the screenings.
    For members of the festival’s Founder’s Circle, a $250 ticket includes priority seating at all films, an invitation to a reception with filmmakers and acknowledgement of support.
    For more details, see

2012 Schedule:

What: “Women and War,” a free public lecture presented by Kate Gilmore, deputy executive director of UNFPA, immediately followed by an invitation-only reception for sponsors and Founders Circle Members with filmmakers and speakers.
When and where: Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. at the Community Library.
What: “The Invisible War,” a feature-length documentary and 2013 Oscar nominee (USA) presented by filmmaker Amy Zeiring and one of the subjects of the film, Trina McDonald. An invitation-only reception will follow immediately for sponsors and guests of Higher Ground with filmmakers and speakers.
When and where: Friday, March 1, at 6 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House.

What: “Weapon of War,” a feature-length documentary (Democratic Republic of Congo) followed by question-and-answer session with Kate Gilmore, deputy executive director of UNFPA.
When and where: Saturday, March 2 at 3 p.m. Sun Valley Opera House.

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

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

What: “War Witch,” premiere of feature-length drama and 2013 Oscar nominee (Canada/Democratic Republic of Congo)
When and where: Sunday, March 3, at 7 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House.


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