This August AfriDocs celebrates the spirit of women through stories both large and small. The role of African women in civic and political spaces has never been easy, and AfriDocs shares films that bring to life the struggles and successes of brave women standing up for their rights and that of others.
A highlight is Strike a Rock, is a counterpoint to Rehad Desai’s Miners Shot Down. This 2017 film tells the story of two mothers, Primrose Sonti and Thumeka Magwangqana, who lead their community in a fight against seemingly insurmountable odds for equality, justice and dignity. The film won Audience Award, Best Local Film, Encounters Documentary Festival.
Director Aliki Saragas says: “Leading up to the 5th anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, we will never forget that justice has been denied. Not only for the families of those who were killed and the injured and arrested mineworkers but also for the community that lives around Lonmin Plc. Our hope is that our documentary will put the women of Marikana’s struggle on the world stage.”
“My aim was to weave together the perspectives of the women using a sensitive, unobtrusive and intimate camera. The film takes the viewer on a journey through trauma, history, loss, friendship, and the fear of being further forgotten as Thumeka and Primrose survive each day. After over 3 years of creating this documentary the journey is only really beginning now as we use the film to build on a movement focusing on extractive practices and their socio-economic and environmental impacts in Sa and Southern Africa regionally.”
Screened at over 120 film festivals world-wide and winner of the Prix Art et Essai at the Cannes Film Festival, Sisters in Law has become an African classic. A cross between Judge Judy and The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Sisters in Law has audiences cheering when justice is served.
Between Rings is the story of Zambia’s Esther Phiri 7-time world boxing champion. She lived with her grandmother, selling groceries in the market. She dropped out of school and became a single mother at 16. But a turning point in Esther’s life came about when NGO Africa Directions started a youth-centered HIV-awareness project, combining health education and sport. Esther was the only girl in a physical training program that focused on boxing.
Sisters in Law | Kim Longinotto, Florence Ayisi | Cameroon | 2005 | 104 min
A fascinating and often hilarious look at the work of one small courthouse in Cameroon where 2 women determined to change a village are making progress that could change the world. The tough-minded state prosecutor, Vera Ngassa and court president, Beatrice Ntuba work to help women in their Muslim village find the courage to fight often-difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from their family and community to remain silent.
* Audience Award, Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival 2005
Between Rings | Salla Sorri & Jessie Chisi | Zambia | 2014 | 82 min
Esther Phiri has literally had to fight to carve out an independent life on her own terms. In her native Zambia, the world boxing champion became an icon. In Between Rings we understand why: she is a deeply charismatic woman with the courage of her convictions. And she can knock anybody out! Esther first renounced her education to support her family. But since then she has also renounced the expectations of marriage and family to invest in her meteoric career as a boxer.
Strike a Rock | Aliki Saragas | South Africa, 2017 | 87 min
By foregrounding the political career of Primrose Sonti and the activism of Thumake Magwangqana, this creates a strange sense of optimism in the face of a terrible crime, while damning the exploitation and collusion between the mining houses and the ANC. A fascinating document of SA’s long overdue political maturation.
Audience Award, Best Local Film, Encounters Documentary Festival, South Africa 2017
The Witches of Gambaga | Yaba Badoe | Ghana | 2010 | 55 min
The Witches of Gambaga is the extraordinary story of a community of women condemned to live as witches in Northern Ghana. Painful experience and insight come together to create an intimate portrait of the lives of women ostracised by their communities.
* Winner Best Documentary – Black International Film Festival, 2010