As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it can feel harder to connect with others and the wider world. Thankfully, there are several enlightening films that both educate and entertain, especially as the daily struggles of women living in conflict-torn nations continue during this global emergency. Watching these films is a great way to stay informed about some of the most pressing issues women face around the world, while highlighting the courage they show every day. Here are a few we recommend:
In the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, Rwandan theater director Kiki Katese said of the country’s economic recovery, “People are not like roads and buildings... how do we rebuild a human being?”
Katese first idea to rebuilding was Rwanda’s first and only women’s drumming troupe, formed in a culture where women were forbidden to play or even touch the drum. A documentary, Sweet Dreams follows the evolution Katese’s second idea, as the troupe brings their energy and performance to open Rwanda’s first and only ice cream shop. The film demonstrates the power of women, business, and music to help communities bridge divides and heal.
On Thursday, April 23rd, our UK team held an online screening of Sweet Dreams, followed by an insightful discussion with the film’s co-director and producer, Lisa Fruchtman, and our Country Director in Rwanda, Antoinette Uwimana, about women in conflict-torn nations and how the film’s story relates to women in Rwanda today. Watch the discussion here.
The Whistleblower tells the story of Kathryn Bolkovac, an American police officer recruited by the United Nations to help restore peace and stability to post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. While there, Bolkovac discovers an international-scale sex and human trafficking ring kept under wraps by political and business leaders. Inspired by real events, this film teaches the importance of persistence and justice, even when no one agrees to listen.
Available on: Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and iTunes
A testament to the unique lives of women trapped by conflict, this documentary features how the lives of a mother and her daughter change as their neighborhood in the Aleppo, Syria succumbs to civil war. As both women face incredible choices and challenges, For Sama explores conflict from the unique perspective of women, and shows how life can still blossom in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Available on: PBS (United States) and Channel 4 (United Kingdom)
The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo
Providing a first-hand account of the impact of sexual harassment and assault as a tool of war, The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo brings to light the effect of gender-based violence during conflict. By interviewing Congolese survivors of sexual violence, activists, physicians, and even self-confessed rapists themselves, this documentary shows a provocatively raw look into how women are manipulated as conquests of war, but also how survivors begin to preserve through trauma.
Available on: HBO, with more streaming platforms coming soon
Girls of the Sun
Girls of the Sun is a wartime drama detailing the efforts of a small group of women who have banded together against extremist attacks in the Kurdistan town. As each woman has her own story to tell, their bond to each other and to the common cause of their liberty demonstrates the impact of cooperation, especially when women can work together.
Available on: Vudu, Amazon Prime Video
Based on Marjane Satrapi’s massively successful autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis features the coming-of-age story of one young girl as she explores more about the world around her, all as the Iranian Revolution looms in her neighborhood. With its black and white animated charm, Persepolis is a rich tale with something everyone can learn from—whether that be how life changes during the most extreme of challenges, or just how life changes while growing up.
Available on: Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, iTunes, and Google Play