Friday, February 25, 2011

Yemeni Filmmaker Uncovers Women’s Struggles

Yemeni Filmmaker Uncovers Women’s Struggles

By Annabella Jean-Laurent

Sana'a- February 24, 2011- The Alliance Francaise d'Atlanta presented a film screening and dialogue with Khadija-Al-Salami, Yemen's first female filmmaker, at the organization's center in Atlanta.

Al-Salami, who serves as the press counselor and director of the Communication and Cultural Center at the Embassy of Yemen in Paris, is fighting for women's rights through powerful documentaries that shed light on the plight of women in Yemen.

"In our culture, women are not allowed to express themselves freely, not even about daily life," she said.

Her latest film, A Stranger in Her Own City, is a 30-minute piece that follows the daily life of a 13-year-old Yemeni girl named Najima.

When asked why she doesn't wear the veil Najimia answered, "I want to be happy and breathe fresh air."

Al-Salami captures a young girl filled with spunk and joy and the people she encounters can't help but be intrigued by her.

"I found Najima by accident," the filmmaker said. "She fascinated me and reminded me of myself at that age."

At eleven years old, Al-Salami was forced into an arranged marriage and she later demanded a divorce. At 14, she started working at a local TV station and studied for a month at Cambridge.

Although she never forgot her country that she believes is "moving in the right direction but still has a long way to go."

The second film shown Amina was miraculously filmed inside a Yemen prison. It tells the story of the young girl who allegedly killed her husband whom she was forced to marry as a minor.

The film documents many of the women prisoners whose crimes range from running away from home as a child to being alone without a male companion.

It is these stories that Al-Salami wants the world to hear.

"I can't change things in Yemen myself, but I can force people to think about these issues and come up with solutions," Al-Salami said.

Amina is filmed alongside her two-year-old son and lives everyday thinking it's going to be her last.

"I'm only at peace on the weekends because they don't execute then," Amina said.

During a brief Q&A session, Al-Salami shares her love and hope for Yemeni women, "Education started only 40 years ago, so I think Yemen still has a long way to go. But I think what happened in Egypt is a testament to what can happen anywhere."

Source: The Signal

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