Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In Sun Valley, lessons of the world

Lineup announced for annual Family of Woman Film Festival

Express Staff Writer

Anita Hill’s story will be told on film this spring. For more information on this and other films, visit
Courtesy photo

    At the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, my mother, and then I, was taught that a professional doesn’t show their political stripe or allegiance unless it is their job to write about such things on the opinion pages.
    When I saw my mom pull an “I Believe Anita” T-shirt over her Ann Taylor suit back in 1991, I knew something significant had happened to draw her out, especially knowing how much she hated how she looked in T-shirts.
    Revisiting that time is a new film called “Anita,” by Sun Valley resident and acclaimed feature documentary film Academy Award-winner Freida Lee Mock. The film—about Hill’s life since testifying before the Senate Judicial Committee during the confirmation hearing of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and the resulting groundbreaking legislation against workplace sexual harassment—is set to screen at the upcoming seventh annual Family of Woman Film Festival in Sun Valley.
    Scheduled for March 7-9 at the Sun Valley Opera House, the festival supports the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which works in more than 150 countries to achieve a world in which every pregnancy is
wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
    “This year’s films were selected to represent a broad range of what the festival theme, Women and Education, might mean,” said festival co-chair Peggy Elliott Goldwyn. “While Anita Hill speaks to the power of truth, a small girl in Afghanistan only has a fantasy of school, and an illiterate slum-dweller in Brazil finds life itself has given her an education.”
    Other films for the 2014 festival include “Rafea, Solar Mama” by Mona Eldaief and Jehane Noujaim, from Jordan; “Tall as the Baobab Tree” by Jeremy Teicher, from Senegal; “Bay of All Saints” by Annie Eastman, from Brazil; and “Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame” by Hana Makhmalbaf, from Iran.

The festival presents the clear need to educate and empower women and girls for the future
of the world.”
Stephanie Freid-Perenchio
Festival co-chair

    “Rafea, Solar Mama” documents the real-life story of Rafea, a Bedouin woman who struggles against tradition and society as she seeks to become the first solar engineer in Jordan. Living with her daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border, Rafea travels to India to attend the Barefoot College, where illiterate grandmothers from around the world are trained in six months to be solar engineers.
    “Tall as the Baobab Tree,” a feature-length dramatic film shot in Senegal, is a student Academy Award-nominated film by Jeremy Teicher. Rooted in reality, the film tells the story of Coumba and her little sister Debo, who are the first to leave their family’s remote African village to attend school. But when an accident suddenly threatens their family’s survival, their father decides to sell 11-year-old Debo into an arranged marriage.
    “Bay of All Saints” is a feature documentary filmed over six years by Annie Eastman in Brazil. Through an introduction by a handyman, who became an integral part of the story, Eastman met Geni, Jesus and Doña Maria, three single mothers, who, though illiterate, found their voices and roles as leaders in the ongoing fight to save their stilt community on a bay from destruction.
    “Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame” is a dramatic feature-length film from Afghanistan. Amid the rubble from statues of Buddha blown up by the Taliban, poor families live in caves at the foot of the cliffs. Baktay, a 6-year-old Afghan girl, is challenged to go to school by her neighbor’s son who proudly reads his lessons. Finding the money to buy a precious notebook and taking her mother’s lipstick for a pencil, Baktay sets out. On her way, she is harassed by boys playing games that mimic the terrible violence they have witnessed.
    “The Family of Woman Film Festival presents the clear need to educate and empower women and girls for the future of the world,” said festival Co-chair Stephanie Freid-Perenchio. “Every year for the past seven years, our films portray this mandate, the challenges women and their families face and their successes.”

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