(San Francisco, CA) – SISTERS IN LAW, the acclaimed documentary by Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi, will have its broadcast debut on the Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by Terrence Howard on Tuesday, November 27, 2007, at 10pm (check local listings).
Winner of two awards at the Cannes Film Festival, including the prestigious Prix Art et Essai, SISTERS IN LAW is a fascinating, moving and often hilarious look at the work of one small courthouse in Cameroon where two woman determined to change a village 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 their family and their community to remain silent. We meet six-year-old Manka, who is covered in scars and has run away from an abusive aunt; Amina, who is seeking a divorce to put an end to brutal beatings by her husband; and the pre-teen Sonita, who has daringly accused her neighbor of rape.
With fierce compassion, Ngassa and Ntuba dispense wisdom, wisecracks and justice in fair measure, handing down stiff sentences to those convicted. Inspiring and uplifting, SISTERS IN LAW presents a strong and positive view of African women and captures the emerging spirit of courage, and the very real possibility of change.
To learn more about the film and the issues explored, visit the SISTERS IN LAW companion website (pbs.org/independentlens/sistersinlaw/) which features detailed information on the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.
About the Filmmakers
Internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto (Director/Producer) is one of the preeminent documentary filmmakers working today, renowned for creating extraordinary human portraits and tackling controversial topics with sensitivity and compassion. Longinotto's films have won international acclaim and dozens of premiere awards at festivals worldwide. Highlights include the Amnesty International DOEN Award at IDFA and Best Doc UK Spotlight at Hot Docs for The Day I Will Never Forget; The Grand Prize For Best Documentary at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival for Divorce Iranian Style; Best Documentary at Films De Femmes, Creteil for Dream Girls; and Outstanding Documentary at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival for Shinjuku Boys. Longinotto studied camera and directing at England’s National Film School, where she made Pride of Place, a critical look at her boarding school, and Theatre Girls, documenting a hostel for homeless women. After graduating from the NFS, she worked as the cameraperson on a variety of documentaries for TV including Cross and Passion, an account of Catholic women in Belfast, and Underage, a chronicle of unemployed adolescents in Coventry.
In 1986, Longinotto formed the production company Twentieth Century Vixen with Claire Hunt. Together they made Fireraiser, a look at Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris and the bombing of Dresden during World War II; Eat The Kimono, about the controversial Japanese feminist performer Hanayagi Genshu; Hidden Faces, the internationally acclaimed, collaborative documentary with/about Egyptian women; and The Good Wife Of Tokyo, about women, love and marriage in Japanese society. Throughout this time, she made a series of ten broadcast and non-broadcast videos on special needs issues, including Tragic But Brave for Channel 4. With Jano Williams, Longinotto directed the audience-pleaser Dream Girls, a BBC-produced documentary on the spectacular Japanese musical theatre company; and Shinjuku Boys, about three Tokyo women who live as men. Next, she made Rock Wives for Channel 4 about the wives and girlfriends of rock stars, followed by Divorce Iranian Style with Ziba Mir-Hosseini, about women and divorce in Iran. She then made two short films for the Best Friends series on Channel 4: Steve & Dave, about two friends who work as a drag act and Rob & Chris, about two homeless young men. Her next film, Gaea Girls made with Jano Williams was about women wrestlers in Japan. Runaway was also made with Ziba Mir-Hosseini and was set in a refuge for girls in Tehran. Her film The Day I Will Never Forget, about young girls in Kenya challenging the tradition of female circumcision, premiered in the U.S. at Sundance in 2003. She is currently researching a new film in Africa. SISTERS IN LAW and Kim’s other films are distributed by Women Make Movies (wmm.com).
Florence Ayisi (Co-Director) studied producing and directing at the Northern School of Film and Television (NSTV) in Leeds, England. In 2003, she co-directed the documentary Reflections, about a black British dancer/choreographer in Cardiff. She also completed a short film, My Mother: Isange, to mark International Women’s Day 2005. She teaches practice-based research at the International Film School in Wales.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10pm on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history. Further information about the series is available at pbs.org/independentlens. The series producer is Lois Vossen.
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