Sisters in Law & Women with Open Eyes

Project descriptionPlease see the movies called Ayisi?s Sisters in Law and Folly?s Women with Open Eyes. Here are some questions to reflect on for that discussion. You are required todiscuss the film here. Be sure to read the copies of reviews of these films ( I will upload them). Then, answer any/some/all of the questions that follow. Be awarethat others may respond to your comments, as you might, theirs.1. In their review of Sisters in Law, Maher and Moorman observe tensions between ?husbands and wives? and between ?young children and the adults?. What tensions arethey talking about? Please explain using the stories of Manka and Amina.2. If you could summarize the story of Amina and Ladi or the story of Manka and Sonita in Sisters in Law, what would you say about them and the groups they represent?Jugding from these cases, what challenges do the represented groups face?3. In many African countries, ?common law? marriages are allowed and in a customary law court, the children of such marriages would belong to both parents. Is itrealistic and fair that the statutory court in Sisters in Law takes the child away from the father without consulting the traditional court? Please explain.4. What issues are addressed in Anne-Laure Folly?s Women with Open Eyes? And, what message about tradition does Folly want us to take away from the film? Pleaseexplain.5. Sheila Petty probably would identify several instances of oppression in Sisters in Law and Women with Open Eyes. What about you? Please identify and explain any twoinstances of oppression you noted in the two films.6. According to Anne-Laure Folly?s Women with Open Eyes, what is the best way to frame the issue of female circumcision? Please explain.A Black Camera Movie Review: Sisters in Law Sisters in Law by Florence Ayisi; Kim Longinotto Review by: Jennifer Maher and Marissa Moorman Black Camera, Vol. 22/23,Vol. 22, no. 2 ? Vol. 23, no. 1 (Spring, 2008), pp. 120-122 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27761711 . Accessed:28/08/2012 13:52Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. Weuse information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please [email protected] University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Black Camera.http://www.jstor.orgBlackCamera120Movie ReviewA BlackCameraSistersJennifer Maherin Lawand Marissa MoormanSISTERS IN LAW, Directed by Florence Ayisi and Kim Longinotto (2005), 104 minutes, distributedbyWomen Make Movies.Sisters in Law (2005), directed by Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi, tells the story oftwo women, VeraBeatrice Ntuba, whoand preside overNgassa courtandprosecutecasesin Kumba, Cameroon. Both of these women see themselves as advocates for thewomen in thistown, women who havediscriminated against by patriarchal views of women and family (as we learn toward the end of the film, there hasn?t been a domestic violence conviction inKumba for 17years). It is no accident that theopening scene is of a family standing infrontofMadame Ngassa?s desk inorder to settle the following dispute: A mother is advocatingfor the returnof her child who has been taken by her husband, without her knowledge and without her consent, with the blessings of her father.One child on her back,thedistraughtwoman pleads her case despite the fact thatunder customary law she and theirchildren are the property of her husband (he had paid bridewealth to herfather formalizing the union under customary law). Ngassa orders the child to be returned immediately, chastises both the husband (?This iswhat you men do, you harvestchildren everywhere.?) and the father (?This iswhat you do for 80,000 francs and a pig!??) Within this one case a variety of subjects central to the film coalesce:patriarchal culture as represented by themale ?plaintiffs,? the imposition of a colonial system of rules and regulations as seen in Ngassa?s Western court attire andher reliance on been a system based inBritish jurisprudence, individual identityand desire weighed against community imperatives. The documentary revisits these issuesvia a variety of cases, including the physical abuse of a 6-year-old girl at the hands of her aunt, a woman tryingto gain a divorce and prosecute her husband afteryears of marital rape and abuse and against the advice of a male-run family council, and the rape of a 9-year-old girl by a Nigerian immigrant residing in the townwhoclaimslongto have been immersed inhis Bible when the alleged assault occurred. Clearly, this documentary?s force comes from the ?characters? of Ngassa and Ntuba, Ngassaespecially. Both are strong, funny,and astute, naturals in court and in frontof the camera. Though the description on theDVD, distributed byWomen Make Movies, isinsulting in itspitch to121BlackCamerabehavior. In this respect, the film is a welcome corrective to hegemonic representations of ?Third World? women as indelibly victimized and helpless. When Aminasucceeds and returns to theHausa quarters in town and to thewomen who have supported her, their enthusiasm and optimism is infectious, their laughter triumphantand ajoy towatch. At the same time, though, thefilm, despite what are clearly the best of intentions, in somemake thefilm accessible by referringtoNgassa and Ntuba as ?African Judge Judy?s,? thewomen?s charisma is undeniable. Speaking mainly inEnglish and pidgin (the film isalso subtitled), they take no prisoners as they create them, consistently reminding their charges that African women in the 21st century have and deserve equal rights,thatuntil women likeAmina and Ladi (both seeking divorces from abusive husbands) stand up for themselves in a court of law,men will not change theirWales, Newport, who originally hails fromKumba. Her other films, such as Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Shinjuku Boys (1995), take care to avoid the sort ofethnographic style oft-criticized by means forSisters inLaw (which has won numerous awards and post-colonial feminism.What this near universal critical approbation),as a narrative, however, ismore problematic. The film providesways enacts the very rubrics it criticizes. To be sure, there is no male Nanook-esque narrative voiceover (in fact, the film has no external narrative at all).Longinotto, a critically acclaimed feminist director who teaches at the International Film School in Wales, has a long feminist track record, collaborating with otherscholars, artists, and activists from the cultures within which she films. For instance, co-directorAyisi is both a filmmaker and a lecturer infilm at theUniversity ofsystem (British/German/French rule and colonialism more generally)? Further, does the ?invisible? filmmaker refute the traditional ethnographic power dynamic or simplyreinforce it? In otherwords, does the erasure of voiceover or dialogue on the part of thefilmmaker reifya pre-supposed (white)next to no context for the events taking place: What is the history of Cameroon? Where does it stand in relation to the rest ofWest Africa historically andpolitically? How did Ntuba and Ngassa get into the positions they currently hold? Where and how did they go to school? Who are the see glimpses of?What about acriticism of a structure otherwomen?police officers, guards?we that,while it clearly benefits thewomen involved here, still arose from an inherently repressivewe see Cameroonian women, differencewithout othering it.One of thefilm?s achievements is that in this case Ngassa and Ntuba, as well as otherwomen employed at thecourt,working to educate bothwomen and men about Cameroonian law and theirrights.This is not aboutWestern heroics (no Madonna, Angelina Jolie, or even a well-meaningAlice Walker and Prathiba Parmar here) righting the lives of victimized African women. Without acknowledging it (or perhaps even being aware of it), the film parallelsrecent work by historians who study court cases in the early 20th century to understand the lives of men and women invariousWest African societies during colonialrule. This historiography demonstrates that African women have long used the courts to contest abusive spouses, non-consensual marriages, paternity,and their right toproperty and the fruitsof their labor.And itdebunks the over-simplified tradition/modernity dichotomy by showing that customary law (?tradition?) was produced at thesame time as statutory law (?modernity?) as colonial officials and male elders often collaborated to constrain the movements ofwomen and junior men. This work thusoverturns the preconception thatcastsAfrican women as helpless, centuries-old victims. Indeed, ithas helped to specify the ways inwhich conditions forwomen often tooka turnfor theworse with the institutionof colonial rule, despite its civilizing and liberating rhetoric. The film?s tightfocus on thepresentmay inadvertentlynurturethenotion that Cameroonianobjectivity and ?view from everywhere?? Longinotto and Ayisi do not address these concerns, opting instead to let the court cases and situations speak forthemselves.While, obviously, any filming or framing constitutesmediation, Sister inLaw?s lack of context, omniscient narration, or voice-over is not simply an argumentfor humanism or universal feminism. Rather, it can be read as an anti-exoticist position that assertsBlackwomenCamera122are age-old victims of patriarchal oppression. That said, its snapshot nature and the consistent lack of added historical or contextual informationdemand that theviewer ask questions and refrain frommaking assumptions. At the same time, thismethod strives to assure the viewer that she can understand the situation these womenare in. Whether American viewers will do so is another question. But, at the very least, they are sure to find an ?Africa? here that is refreshing in itsunfamiliarity, i.e., it is not theAfrica of disorder and disaster, but of everyday life, town streets, court offices with piles of papers, men dusting desks andwashing windows in the officesof female professionals, family tensions, and people learning to stand up for themselves and face their limitations. The film?s most disturbingmoments have, in fact,little to do with women per se and more to do with girl children. Both Sonita (the 9-year-old raped by a neighbor) andManka (the moments in court. 6-year-old abused byher aunt) are subject towhat must have been very difficult Sonita is so near her accused as to be able to hear him mutter as she makes her formal accusationand wives, but also between young children and the adults who ostensibly exist to protect and care for them complicates a film that could otherwise be read as aparable of ?traditional? African answer to to made Western and courts. feminism the masculinity Instead, Sisters inLaw asks us to empathize with a range of situationsand people. While Sonita?s rapist clearly deserves the punishment he receives forhis crime, he is less the imposingmonster rapist of our imaginations and more anemotionally isolated (if vicious) man with sloped shoulders and no family. Similarly, when Ngassa visits Manka?s aunt in prison, she promises to bring the frailwomanmedicine, adding that prisoners are not ?animals? and we ?don?t hate you.? This combination of present-tense narrative and multiple identificationsmakes for a filmthat universalizes experience without co-opting it, a fine line thatSisters inLaw manages towalk with itshead held high.before the judge, andManka?s body is repeatedly, almost obsessively, exposed at various points in the legal process as evidence of her aunt?s cruelty.Even when courtsand judicial activists succeed in dispensing justice, the burdens of evidence are still borne by the victims. This choice on the part of thefilmmakers to highlight notonly tensions between husbandsTo coincide withNelson Mandela?s visit toLondon and concertfor the fundraising Mandela Children?s Fund, the Museum ofLondon will be presentingan exhibition onMandela?sfirstvisit toLondon in 1962.At thattime, Mandela was wanted by theSouthAfrican authorities,and leftthecountry illegally tobuild supportfor the African NationalCongress overseas. During his 10-day stay inLondon, he met a number ofLabour Partypoliticians. Shortlyafterhis return to SouthAfrica, hewas and would as a prisoner. 27betrayed, arrested, years ultimately spend The Museum of London?s exhibition will use a number of photos and documentationfrom thePeterDavis Collection at theBFC/A.Order for a custom written PAPER now and one of our online writers will write your assignment from scratch within your deadline! Category: Essay Writing

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