FEMINIST FRIDAY: Films About Women Of Color Who Are Making The World A Better Place

‘Kamali’ image: Palm Springs International Film Festival

Welcome to our first Feminist Friday column of 2020! Our favorite way to end each work week is by sharing three videos we can’t get enough of right now, and this week it’s all about elevating stories about women of color around the globe who are making a difference and breaking barriers.

First up is a short film called ‘Kamali’, a 24-minute documentary by New Zealand director Sasha Rainbow, which is being distributed by RYOT Films in partnership with HuffPost. Kamali is a 10 year-old girl from Mamallapuram, India, who has been making waves in her community and beyond with her deft skateboarding skills. Daughter to single mother Suganthi who is the source of Kamali’s drive and determination, this film has qualified for the Academy Awards’ 2020 shortlist!

Kamali’s mother tells TheHindu.com how initially her community mocked her for supporting her daughter in such an endeavor, but she refused to give in to their pressure and now she is receiving admiration for this.

“I did not force her to live my dreams, I let her live hers instead,” she said.

“Initially, everyone knew me as Moorthy’s (her mother) daughter. Now I am known by my daughter’s name, as Kamali’s mother. It gives me immense pride,” she added.

Sasha Rainbow told the newspaper how she hopes her film will inspire the world to let young girls be free to choose their destiny, no matter where they are from.

“It is because of mothers like Suganthi, brave enough to open the doors to their world and let us in, and shine light on the hope that is Kamali: a true example of the change that can happen when we let little girls play and explore their dreams,” she said.

The second video in this week’s column is the first in a 4 part-documentary series from maternal health organization Every Mother Counts, founded by supermodel Christy Turlington. The series was released in 2014 but is just as relevant today as women’s health globally still needs a lot of work, especially in developing and disaster-affected regions. 

One such region is Haiti, where midwives work in a landscape that sees high maternal mortality rates. Juslene is a young Haitian woman beginning her year long midwifery training with Midwives for Haiti in a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the western hemisphere. Every Mother Counts and Midwives for Haiti teamed up to increase the number of skilled birth attendants available to assist pregnant women in Haiti. EMC’s grant supports the training of 17 midwives for one year. Each midwife will go on to provide prenatal care to nearly 1,225 women and deliver 180 babies each year.

All four videos showcase different Haitian midwives as they go about their daily work, outlining the barriers, the families and the issues they deal with. Watch part 1 below and check out the fill playlist by clicking here. You can also check out more important maternal health documentaries from Every Mother Counts by visiting their website

The final video this week is the trailer to a feature film called ‘Made In Bangladesh’ not to be confused with a documentary of the same name from 2015. In director Rubaiyat Hossain’s feature, the audience gets to see a personalized view of the garment workers to enable massive fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara to exist the way they do, but at what cost? 

In ‘Made in Bangladesh’, we get to know outspoken and tenacious young Shimu (Rikita Nandini Shimu) — as she makes the bold decision to unionize her factory floor, trying to get her fellow employees to do the same. The process is steeped in threats, red tape and a system clearly stacked against the worker, and yet Shimu persists, even if her own husband no longer has her back. 

It’s a topic that has plagued the fashion industry for a number of years now, and it’s great to see films and media content being produced to bring wider awareness to something that must be changed for the better. Watch the trailer to ‘Made in Bangladesh’ below:

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