Archive for April, 2009

Heading to Toronto for HOT DOCS

It has been a busy week in the office preparing for HOT DOCS, North America’s biggest documentary festival.  Sean has been burning DVDs like a maniac, and we’re getting very excited about the opportunity to pitch THE PROMISE OF FREEDOM.  The film was one of five selected to participate in the Good Pitch, a pitching session that features human-rights focused documentary film projects in front of high profile film funds, organizations and NGOs.   This is the first time the Good Pitch has been done on this side of the Atlantic.  Can’t wait to see all our friends from Fledgling Fund and Chicken & Egg Pictures!  We’ll be blogging and tweeting from the road, so please check back.

Afghanistan News and Analysis

CNN special reports about the resurgent Taliban, new threats to troops, public opinion, opium production increase, and historical analysis.

A(nother) Blow to Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

“It’s the Taliban all over again,” an Afghan woman said to me as I was loading my luggage in the car to head to Kabul International Airport. “It’s just unbelievable.” The disbelief and outrage is over a new law–just signed by President Karzai last week–that legalizes rape in marriage by forbidding women from refusing sex; bans a woman from leaving the home, working, or seeing a doctor without her husband’s permission; and grants child custody only to fathers and grandfathers in cases of divorce. Women must also wear makeup if their husbands demand it. “When a husband dies, women can only inherit movable property–no houses or land,” this woman told me as she quickly transferred a damning UNIFEM report onto a USB drive. This would keep me busy on my overnight layover in Istanbul. It is obvious that in an attempt to win support in the upcoming August elections, President… LEARN MORE

OTHER HAPPENINGS… Budding Documentarians…. We’ve been training students to use small HDV video cameras that we will leave behind when we head back to the States. We’ve never done something like this before – but we’re hoping that they’ll provide us with some intimate family and village life material that we would not otherwise be able to capture. There is some trepidation about handing over expensive electronics. Nadia, a third-grader who took the camera home last night, beamed as she showed us her footage this morning. But then we saw her in many of the shots. Wait a minute! Who’s filming? Her father had taken charge of the camera, she told us. Ultimately, we like the idea that the whole family buying into this project. There are three girls we’ve trained: Khodija (the orphan whose 12-year-old sister is engaged), Nadia (first in her class and one of 12 children thanks… LEARN MORE

Wedding Present for Nilab

Eighteen-year-old Nilab asked for one present from her husband when they were married: his permission to let her teach. “This is the only gift I wanted,” says Nilab—two years later—standing before her fourth grade class. “And he agreed.” Nilab’s first teaching job is here at the Zabuli School. “I plan everything so carefully, and decide each night how I will start class the next morning and precisely what I will say.” As she’s talking, I can tell she’s nervous. She pulls me aside and asks, “When you filmed me yesterday, could you hear my voice?” Yes, I tell her. “Oh, I’m so ashamed,” she said, her eyes widening. “I made some mistakes when I was speaking Pashtu. You have to delete it.” You’re trilingual, I tell her, you’re entitled. “No,” she insists, “you have to get rid of it.” For school director Zia Haidai taking care of the eight teachers… LEARN MORE