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Kim LONGINOTTO, Florence AYISI
Kim Longinotto has roamed all over the globe making documentaries from her feminist viewpoint. Having focused her lens on diverse subjects such as the intersection of reality and desire of Japanese women in Dream Girls and Gaea Girls, Iranian girls fleeing from physical and sexual abuse in Runaway, and the Kenyan tribal practice of female circumcision in The Day I Will Never Forget, in Sisters in Law Longinotto takes her camera to the small village of Kumba in Cameroon.
Amina is a battered wife. In a traditional Muslim society, though it is quite dangerous for a wife to do so, Amina files for divorce from her violent husband despite the Muslim community’s threats and attempts at appeasement. Young Sonita is raped by neighbor, yet she is courageous enough to report him to the police. When 8-year-old Grace is beaten by her aunt, she doesn’t cry or run away, but instead asks for help from her neighbors. Behind these acts are two sisters practicing law: prosecutor Vera Ngassa and judge Beatrice Ntuba who encourage them to fight against the unfair violence and oppression instead of being tragic victims. In the name of the law, they punish the victimizers and in the name of sisterhood, they protect the victims.
Kumba captures the positive ripple effect of change which started from one small courtroom in a moving and liberating manner. Moreover, Longinotto once again maintains an objective distance without being dogmatic, prompting the audience to become the camera lens and experience the emotions along with the director. As we watch this film, we applaud Amina’s courage,share the plight of young Sonita and Grace, feel liberated by prosecutor Vera’s plea, and are thrilled by judge Beatrice’s sentence.
To borrow the words of Kumba-born co-director, Florence Ayisi, who believes that this film will go beyond the walls of people’s stereotypes and help the public see a new Africa, I hope the willpower and courage to make a difference the African women show in this film will have a chain effect so all the women in the world can make that kind of change. (Lim Sung-min)
Kim LONGINOTTOKim LONGINOTTO
One of the foremost documentary filmmakers working today, Kim LONGINOTTO is renowned internationally for her compelling human portraits and her sensitive and compassionate treatment of unknown topics. Her films have won international acclaim, including the World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentary at Sundance Film Festival for Rough Aunties . Highlights include perhaps one of her best known works, Sisters in Law(2005), winner of a 2008 Peabody Award and two Cannes Awards; Pink Saris (2010) won Sepecial Jury Prize in Sheffield Doc Fest.
Florence AYISIFlorence AYISI
Florence Ayisi studied producing and directing at the Northern School of Film and Television (NSTV) in Leeds, England. She co-directed the documentary Reflections, about a black British dancer-choreographer in Cardiff in 2003. She has completed a short film, My Mother to mark International Women’s Day 2005. She teaches practice-based research at the International Film School Wales, University of Wales, Newport.