International Women's Day
Saturday 07 March 2015 10:30 to Sunday 08 March 2015 14:00
British Council Colombo Library

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatrical performances, fashion parades and more.

All featured documentaries are films by and about women

Saturday 07 March 2015

Pink Saris | 10.30 a.m. 

“A girl’s life is cruel...A woman’s life is very cruel,” notes Sampat Pal, the complex protagonist at the center of PINK SARIS, internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto’s latest foray into the lives of extraordinary women (SISTERS IN LAW, DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE, ROUGH AUNTIES). Sampat should know – like many others she was married as a young girl into a family which made her work hard and beat her often. But unusually, she fought back, leaving her in-laws and eventually becoming famous as a champion for beleaguered women throughout Uttar Pradesh, many of whom find their way to her doorstep. Like Rekha, a fourteen-year-old Untouchable, who is three months pregnant and homeless – unable to marry her unborn child’s father because of her low caste.

Fifteen-year-old Renu's husband from an arranged marriage has abandoned her, her father-in-law has been raping her and she's threatening to throw herself under a train. Both young women, frightened and desperate, reach out for their only hope: Sampat Pal and her Gulabi Gang, Northern India’s women vigilantes in pink. PINK SARIS is an unflinching and often amusing look at these unlikely political activists and their charismatic leader; in extraordinary scenes, we watch Sampat launch  herself into the centre of family dramas, witnessed by scores of spectators, convinced her mediation is the best path for these vulnerable girls. Her partner BaFbuji, who has watched Sampat change over the years, is less certain....

Rough Aunties | 2.00 p.m.

Fearless, feisty and resolute, the “Rough Aunties” are a remarkable group of women unwavering in their stand to protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. This documentary by internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto (SISTERS IN LAW, DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE) follows the outspoken, multiracial cadre of Thuli, Mildred, Sdudla, Eureka and Jackie, as they wage a daily battle against systemic apathy, corruption, and greed to help the most vulnerable and disenfranchised of their communities. 

Despite the harsh realities of violence, poverty, and racism in the women’s work at the Bobbi Bear child welfare organization and in the heartaches of their personal lives, the portraits that emerge on screen are filled with grace, wisdom, friendship, and a deeply stirring conviction. Neither politics, nor social or racial divisions stand a chance against the united force of the women. Once again Longinotto has managed to bring us an intimate portrait of change from Africa, this time from post-apartheid South Africa, a nation being transformed with hope and energy into a new democracy.

Sunday 08 March 2015

Sisters–in–law | 10.30 a.m.

SISTERS IN LAW is a totally fascinating, often hilarious look at the work of one small courthouse in Cameroon. The tough-minded state prosecutor Vera Ngassa and court president Beatrice Ntuba are helping women in their Muslim village find the courage to fight often-difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from family and their community to remain silent. With fierce compassion, they dispense wisdom, wisecracks and justice in fair measure—handing down stiff sentences to those convicted. A cross between Judge Judy and The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, SISTERS IN LAW has audiences cheering when justice is served. In signature style, Longinotto’s unobtrusive camera captures an abundance of colorful characters, allowing their powerful stories to unfold effortlessly without need for narration. Both insightful and uplifting, SISTERS IN LAW presents a rare strong and positive view of African women—and captures the emerging spirit of courage, hope and possibility for change.

The only documentary selected for the 2005 Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes and a selection of the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, SISTERS IN LAW is the latest film from internationally acclaimed director and festival favourite Kim Longinotto, co-directed by Florence Ayisi. Longinotto’s award-winning films include the 2005 Emmy-nominated film THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET, which premiered in the U.S. at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE, DREAM GIRLS and SHINJUKU BOYS, among others.

Salma | 2.00 p.m.

When Salma, a young Muslim girl in a south Indian village, was 13 years old, her family locked her up for 25 years, forbidding her to study and forcing her into marriage. During that time, words were Salma’s salvation. She began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper and, through an intricate system, was able to sneak them out of the house, eventually getting them into the hands of a publisher. Against the odds, Salma became the most famous Tamil poet: the first step to discovering her own freedom and challenging the traditions and code of conduct in her village. 

Salma’s extraordinary story is one of courage and resilience. Salma has hopes for a different life for the next generation of girls, but as she witnesses, familial ties run deep, and change happens very slowly. SALMA helps us understand why the goal of global education of girls is one the most critical areas of empowerment and development of women worldwide.

Please contact the British Council Colombo library on  (0)11 7521 521 or (0)11 4521 521 to reserve your seat