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SUNDANCENOW DOC CLUB LAUNCHES RETROSPECTIVE OF VETERAN, BRITISH FILMMAKER KIM LONGINOTTO IN CONJUNCTION WITH HER UPCOMING DOC NYC AWARD


 

All Films Featured in the Collection Are Now Available to Stream Exclusively atDocClub.com

 

New York, NY (November 5, 2015) - SundanceNow Doc Club, the advertising-free boutique SVOD service dedicated solely to documentaries, announced today that it is presenting a retrospective of eight films, available to stream now exclusively on Doc Club, from veteran, British filmmaker Kim Longinotto, who was recently named this year's recipient of DOC NYC's Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence. Longinotto is well known in the UK for making films that highlight the plight of female victims of oppression or discrimination.

 

The retrospective is the culmination of a banner year for Longinotto. In addition to her DOC NYC Award, her most recent documentary DREAMCATCHER earned her a Directing Award for World Cinema Documentary at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and it is one of the films competing for this year's Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

 

Of the retrospective, Doc Club resident curator Thom Powers said, "Kim Longinotto has quietly amassed a body of work that places her among the greatest of documentary filmmakers. She has an uncanny ability to find characters full of hope, humor and persistence against the most forbidding circumstances. It's an honor to present this collection of her films."

 

Longinotto added: "Each of my films are journeys that take me into completely different situations than I'd imagined at the outset. People ask me why so many of my films focus on women. They are not so much about women as they are about rebels. On the whole, when I look at the world, it seems that the people who have the most to gain from challenging traditional ways of thinking are women. If men were shot in the head for going to school or kept in the house or locked up at puberty, I think I'd be making films about men. Women have the most to gain from change and are out there trying to change their circumstances. This is why I choose the stories I do."

 

The films featured in the collection, alongside Longinotto's personal comments on each film, are:

 

PINK SARIS (2010)

Winner - Special Jury Award at Sheffield International Documentary Festival

Winner - Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Documentary at Hong Kong International Film Festival

 

"A girl's life is cruel... A woman's life is very cruel," notes Sampat Pal, the complex protagonist at the center of PINK SARIS, internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto's latest foray into the lives of extraordinary women. Sampat should know - like many others she was married as a young girl into a family which made her work hard and beat her often. But unusually, she fought back, leaving her in-laws and eventually becoming famous as a champion for beleaguered women throughout Uttar Pradesh, many of whom find their way to her doorstep. Like Rekha, a fourteen year old Untouchable, who is three months pregnant and homeless or fifteen year old Renu, whose father-in-law has been raping her. Both young women, frightened and desperate, reach out for their only hope: Sampat Pal and her Gulabi Gang, Northern India's women vigilantes in pink.

 

"The reason I wanted to make this film was because Sampat Pal seemed incredible. Many women who, like her, were married young and were beaten, showed up to her doorstep for help. I liked that she was a rebel, didn't go to school, and couldn't read and write because of the conventions of the village and yes she had found the courage to fight back. It's been hard to keep in touch with Sampat because she doesn't speak any English and she's not on the internet. After I finished making the film, she briefly went into politics even though she said she wasn't going to - she tried to get elected, but it didn't happen. She continues to speak out against cruelty to women."

 

 

ROUGH AUNTIES (2008)

Winner - Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary at Sundance Film Festival

 

Fearless, feisty and resolute, the "Rough Aunties" are a remarkable group of women unwavering in their stand to protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. The outspoken, multiracial cadre of Thuli, Mildred, Sdudla, Eureka and Jackie wage a daily battle against systemic apathy, corruption and greed to help the most vulnerable and disenfranchised of their communities. Neither politics, nor social or racial divisions stand a chance against the united force of the women.

 

"This one is one of the very few films where the subjects of the film came to find me. Jackie, one of the women from Operation Bobbi Bear who protect and care for raped and abused children in Durban, South Africa, had been filmed a bit in South Africa by local TV crews but hadn't had a good experience with it. The TV crews were very bossy and quite manipulative. The team saw my film Sisters In Law and thought I'd be a good person to make a film about them. After meeting with Jackie in London, I went to South Africa and met the other rough aunties and fell in love with Mildred. It was like the first day of school when you feel like "I want to be friends with that person." I knew immediately the film would be mostly about her. We're still in touch all the time."

 

 

HOLD ME TIGHT, LET ME GO (2007)

Winner - Special Jury Prize at International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam

 

A vérité look at Oxford's Mulberry Bush School for emotionally disturbed children. Mulberry's heroically forbearing staff greets extreme, sometimes violent behavior with only consolation and gentle restraint. Kim Longinotto's unblinking camera captures an arduous process and a nearly unhinged environment, but it also records the daily dramas of troubled kids trying to survive and the moments of hope they achieve with Mulberry's clear-eyed staff.

 

"Originally I really didn't want to make this film about Oxford Mulberry Bush School for emotionally disturbed children, because I hated my school and I had a very low opinion of teachers. The producer Roger Graef said, "Just spend a morning at the school." I did, and immediately thought the teachers were just amazing, especially the male teachers. There was such a gentleness in the way they worked with the kids. I wanted to show there is a different way of teaching that isn't just punishment, but rather trying to understand the children. The teachers don't get told often enough how wonderful they are. I wanted the film to be a celebration of people who do that kind of work."

 

 

SISTERS IN LAW (2005)

Winner - Peabody Award

Winner - CICAE Award at Cannes Film Festival

 

In one small courthouse in Cameroon two women are determined to change a village, and are making progress that could change the world. The tough-minded state prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba are working to help women in their Muslim village find the courage to fight often-difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from family and their community to remain silent. With fierce compassion, they dispense wisdom, wisecracks and justice in fair measure--handing down stiff sentences to those convicted.

 

"One of the things that amazed me the first time I made a film in Africa was that there were all of these women and girls who were challenging tradition and we never hear about them. I wanted to go back there to make another film, but wanted to do so where people speak English so I could make myself understood. When I met Vera Ngassa, the state prosecutor who helps women in her village to get justice, I thought this is the woman I want to make a film about. Since filming, Manka Grace, the girl who was beaten by her aunt, has been adopted by someone who saw the film and is living in England as a regular teenager, going to school and doing really well."

 

 

THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET (2002)

Winner - Amnesty International DOEN Award at International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

Winner - Best Doc UK Spotlight at Hot Docs

 

A personal look at the hotly debated issue of female genital mutilation. Longinotto presents several different Kenyan women with the opportunity to speak out about their experiences. Nine-year-old Fouzia stands in a white dress to recite The Day I Will Never Forget, an autobiographical story she wrote about her mother forcing her to go through with a traditional circumcision. Interviews with several elders explore the importance of continuing the ritual, while other young women describe their own painful memories. Nurse Fardhosa is introduced as a woman who travels through Nairobi villages educating people about the physical and emotional destruction caused by the tradition. Also included is a group of runaway girls who try to use the court system to protect them from being forced into circumcisions.

 

"This was a very painful film for me to make. I had wanted to make it for a long time because one of my close friends who is Egyptian underwent the genital mutilation operation when she was 8. The people she loved most in the world, her aunts and her mother, were the ones who did it to her and it traumatized her. But I don't like making films about victims, I like making films about rebels, people who change things. When making this film, I knew I needed to find a group of girls who were changing things."

 

 

RUNAWAY (2001)

Nominee - Gold Hugo Award for Best Documentary at Chicago International Film Festival

 

RUNAWAY examines an unusual halfway house in Tehran for young women who have fled their homes due to domestic discord. While the women who operate the home provide shelter and support for girls from abusive families, they also provide counseling and try to find out the truth about the situations that have brought the women to the shelter, and sometimes send home girls who have misrepresented the severity of their problems. Co-directed by Ziba Mir-Hosseini.

 

"This film is about girls in Tehran, Iran who were saying we can't put up with the abusive power of their fathers, brothers and stepfathers. I loved the idea that there was this safe haven for young girls in the middle of this hostile city. They often talked about men being wolves. These little girls ran to this house that would be this one place in the world where they would be safe and could maybe start a new life."

 

 

DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE (1998)

Winner - BAFTA Flaherty Documentary Award

 

A fascinating and surprising look at Iran's divorce laws. Studiously avoiding the stereotypes of Islamic fanaticism often associated with modern Iran, the film centers on three cases as they come across the tiny office desk of Judge Deldar, who generously allowed the directors to film every aspect of the cases. The first centers on Jamileh, who tells the judge that her husband mistreats her. Sixteen-year-old Ziba's husband is a good man, but she wants to be free to resume her studies, something she cannot do if she is married. Maryam wants a new husband because she claims her current husband cannot provide her with a child. The film spends several weeks following the complainants in and outside of court as they go to great lengths to convince the patient judge to free them. Despite the fact that Islamic law contains strict, daunting guidelines for marital break-ups, Judge Deldar proves himself to be fair and even liberal in regards to making decisions for the unhappy couples. Co-directed by Ziba Mir-Hosseini.

 

"The reason I wanted to make this film was that there'd been a lot of very rough, negative documentaries made in Iran showing Iranian people as fanatics. At the same time there were these beautiful fiction films coming out made by Iranian filmmakers like Kiaristomi, who made Where is My Friend's Home and Through the Olive Trees - and then Jafar Panahi. They featured female characters and used fiction to be critical of their society. I thought how strange that both these kinds of films were coming out of the same country, how Europeans were showing Iran as this very fanatical culture, and how these fiction films were showing this gentle, poetic culture. I wanted to show how ordinary people could relate to and identify with people wanting a divorce. And I wanted to talk about this change in the culture in a gentle way, like fiction films are doing."

 

 

SHINJUKU BOYS (1995)

Winner - Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary Feature at LA Outfest

Winner - Silver Hugo Award at Chicago Film Festival

 

A film about love and gender, this documentary is set in the New Marilyn night club in Tokyo, Japan - where the hosts are women who have chosen to live as men. They can only make their living as hosts in a nightclub with other 'wannabes' like them. The young women who come there often have relationships with them but the underlying fear is whether such a relationship can withstand the pressures on a girl to get married and have children. All three boys deal with this in different ways. These three hosts, the Shinjuku Boys, take us into their lives. Co-directed by Jano Williams.

 

"This film was huge fun for me. We went to this bar The New Marilyn Club and asked 'Who wants to be in a film?' These three women who live as men stepped forward and said, "We do." They chose us and we chose them. The experience was very pleasurable because they asked us to come along with them on their dates and adventures. I felt very close to the Shinjuku boys and proud of them that they were so honest and open. People had said nobody will be able to be open and intimate with you in Japan, but we had the opposite experience. What attracted me to these boys were they were going against all traditions, saying we're different, we want to be different and we're going to live very different lives from everyone else."

 

 

ABOUT KIM LONGINOTTO:

Kim Longinotto is a British documentary filmmaker, well known for depicting the plight of female victims of oppression or discrimination. Longinotto studied camera and directing at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England, where she now tutors occasionally.

 

After a period of homelessness, Longinotto went on to Essex University to study English and European literature and later followed friend and future filmmaker, Nick Broomfield to the National Film and Television School. While studying, she made a documentary about her boarding school that was shown at the London Film Festival, since when she has continued to be a prolific documentary filmmaker.

 

Longinotto is an observational filmmaker. Observational cinema, also known as direct cinema, free cinema or cinema verite, usually excludes certain documentary techniques such as advanced planning, scripting, staging, narration, lighting, reenactment and interviewing. Longinotto's unobtrusiveness, which is an important part of observational documentary, gives the women on camera a certain voice and presence that may not have emerged with another documentary genre. She has received a number of awards for her films over the years.