Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Alchemy of woman

Film festival illustrates the transformation of the undervalued to the incredible

Express Staff Writer

Photo by Kristen Kaiser

     Education is a broad term that includes lessons scholastic, practical and painful. When the seventh annual Family of Woman Film Festival opens this week, celebrating women and education, the lineup will undoubtedly elevate audiences to an unexplored level of understanding of the global issues of women.
    Running from today, March 5, through Monday, March 10, in Sun Valley, the festival includes speakers and a variety of films. Tickets are available at Iconclast Books and Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum for $15 or $60 for all five films.
    “This year’s films were selected to represent a broad range of what the festival theme, women and education, might mean,” said Peggy Elliott Goldwyn, festival co-chair. “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.”
    The festival supports the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which works in more than 150 countries to “achieve a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”

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.”
Peggy Goldwyn
Co-chair of the
Family of Woman Film Festival

    Barbara Morgan, former astronaut and distinguished educator in residence at Boise State University, will make opening remarks on Friday, March 7, at 7 p.m. Annie Eastman will present her film, “Bay of All Saints,” after.
    Morgan’s first job in education was teaching remedial reading and math and special education on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. She went on to teach in Quito, Eduador, and in the small mountain town of McCall, Idaho, where she was selected by NASA in 1985 as backup to “Teacher in Space” Christa McAuliffe, and trained with the crew of the space shuttle Challenger. After the Challenger accident, Morgan returned to the classroom and continued working for NASA until she was selected to the astronaut rookie class of 1998. She flew on the space shuttle Endeavor in 2007, to help construct the International Space Station. In 2008, Morgan retired from NASA to become the distinguished educator in residence at Boise State University.
Films to be shown at the Sun Valley Opera House include: “Anita” U.S. (2013) by Freida Lee Mock; “Rafea, Solar Mama” (2012) by Mona Eldaief and Jehane Noujaim, Jordan; “Tall as the Baobab Tree” (2012) by Jeremy Teicher, Senegal; “Bay of All Saints” (2012) by Annie Eastman, Brazil; and “Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame” (2007) by Hana Makhmalbaf, Iran.
“Anita” is an acclaimed feature documentary film by Academy Award-winner and Sun Valley resident Freida Lee Mock. Now a distinguished law professor, Anita Hill appeared before the Senate Judicial Committee in 1991 during the confirmation hearing of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.  Public reaction to her testimony helped create groundbreaking legislation against workplace sexual harassment. Mock will introduce the film Sunday, March 8, at 7 p.m. 
    “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. Meagan Carnahan Fallone tells the tale of how Rafea—who lives with her daughters in one of Jordan’s poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border—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” is a feature-length dramatic film shot in Senegal and is the remarkable result of 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. Teicher will hold a free viewing of his first film, “This is Us,” and discuss filmmaking at the Sun Valley Opera House on Saturday, March 8, at 11 a.m. “Baobab” will show at 3 p.m.
    “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 the 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 Stephanie Freid-Perenchio, festival co-chair. “Every year for the past seven years, our films portray this mandate—the challenges women and their families face and their successes.”
    Speakers add an important dimension to the festival, and their message is getting more reach because of an affiliation between the festival and Boise State University.
    Fallone’s “Rafea: Solar Mama” is screening tonight, March 5, in Boise. Fallone is the head of Global Strategy for Barefoot College, India. She is responsible for international coordination of the Women’s Barefoot Solar Engineering program and has been a field presence in more than 26 countries. Championing women in the developing world, she speaks regularly on the power of women as agents of sustainable change and poverty reduction.
    Fallone will also be the inaugural speaker for the newly established Family of Woman Film Festival Bonni Curran Memorial Lecture for the Health and Dignity of Women on Thursday, March 6, at 6 p.m. at The Community Library in Ketchum. “Rafea:  Solar Mama” will screen at 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 9, at the Sun Valley Opera House as the closing film for the 2014 festival, with Fallone present.
     The festival is also pleased to announce a discussion about the United Nations Population Fund in Action, featuring Anzaira Roxas, a nurse-midwife from the Philippines and winner of Friends of UNFPA’s 2013 International Award. Roxas will speak about UNFPA’s recent typhoon relief work in the Philippines and the special needs of women in crisis situations at The Community Library in Ketchum on Monday, March 10, at 6 p.m. to end the festival. Roxas will also speak on Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at the Lookout Room in the Boise State University Student Union Building.  
    Presented by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, The Women’s Center and Friends of UNFPA, Roxas will discuss her work with UNFPA and her personal experiences: advising youth on their reproductive health, delivering maternal-health supplies after humanitarian disasters, and advocating for the passage of the Philippines’ Reproductive Health law.
    Roxas is the deputy project coordinator at UNFPA’s partner, the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines. She is active in the Youth Peer Education Network pioneered by UNFPA and, along with her fellow youth advocates, was instrumental in the passage of a national reproductive health law in 2012. After the devastating typhoon in the Philippines, she has been providing health education to young people, lactating mothers and pregnant women.
    Learn more about Roxas at
     For complete details, visit

Freebies and tickets
Events run through March 10. All lectures are free at The Community Library in Ketchum. Tickets to all screenings at the Sun Valley Opera House are available at Chapter One Bookstore and Iconoclast Books in Ketchum. Individual tickets are $15 or $60 for all five films. For more information, visit

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