Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Name of the Family

Showing at Hot Docs: In the Name of the Family, written and directed by Shelley Saywell

Synopsis from the film's website:

In the Name of the Family, the latest documentary from Toronto-based Shelley Saywell, continues her list of hard-hitting films that deal with human rights issues. Winner of an Emmy Award for Crimes of Honour and a UNESCO Gandhi Medal for Kim’s Story: The Road from Vietnam, her latest documentary is similarly incisive and unsettling. The death of 16 year old Aqsa Parvez, strangled by her father in Toronto, compelled Saywell to return to the terrain she covered in Crimes of Honour: the murder of young women by their own families. She began filming at Aqsa’s vigil, planning to focus on her story. Three weeks later, teenage sisters Amina and Sarah Said were shot to death by their father in Dallas, Texas. Five months later, 19-year-old Fauzia Mohammed of Rochester NY was stabbed 11 times by her brother. She miraculously survived.

In the Name of the Family tells their stories: examining the escalating tensions that led to their death and how the community reacted to it. In eerie parallel, we meet other girls who continue to live in anxiety and fear. From South Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant families, these girls are caught between two cultures where parent-teenage clashes can lead to a specific form of domestic abuse.

Known as honour killing, this form of violence is not sanctioned by any religion, but has been culturally entrenched in some parts of South Asia, and the Middle East. In post-911 North America, this topic has become polarizing – either silenced or sensationalized. The tragedy is, there are very few safety nets here for girls in danger.

In the Name of the Family viewers meet the girls, their families and friends, and enter a normally closed world where young women wanting to bridge two worlds are victimized by the men who claim to love them the most.

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