Both films shown on Day Two of “Women, Media, Revolution” profile several women, but in two very different countries and two very different moments in their histories. “The Sari Soldiers,” directed by Julie Bridgham, follows six prominent Nepali women from various backgrounds as they navigate the political and social landscape after the Nepali king virtually closes the country and shuts down the government, nearly a decade into the civil war with the Maoists.
“Peace Unveiled,” the third episode in the five-part series Women, War & Peace, trails several women in Kabul and Kandahar, Afghanistan, during a time of heightened violence from fundamentalist groups including the Taliban. Director Gini Reticker shows their struggle for political inclusion in national politics and the peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban in 2010 and 2011. The danger for the women is palpable throughout the documentary: “I never know if I’ll be coming home or not.” The film was finalized a mere three weeks ago and ends on an ominous statement from the narrator, Tilda Swinton: “For women, peace has never looked so threatening.”
Post-viewing discussions with the filmmakers focused largely on how the films are being used internationally, but more importantly, on the local level in both countries. In the case of Nepal, Bridgham sought and secured the final permission from all six women before finalizing the film. In a meeting in Kathmandu, the women came together to meet one another and view it as a group. Since then, the women travel in pairs or as a group to sites around the country – it has been shown in 25 districts so far – to share their insights and how, despite their sometimes clashing views on politics and the direction of their country, they have developed new respect for one another’s viewpoints through the making of this film.
Reticker related that the day after the premiere of “Peace Unveiled” on PBS, the featured Afghan women will host an online interactive discussion from Kabul to offer feedback on the film and answer viewers’ questions. The documentary will be shown locally in San Diego on KPBS on October 28 at 11 p.m.