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March 27, 2015


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Delighted to report that Bastards  has been selected by two Turkish women’s film festivals, the International Filmmor Women’s Film Festival on Wheels, and the Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival in Ankara in May. Filmmor started 12 years ago “by women and for women” with the words “women make movies”, sets out on its journey for the 13th time on the 13th of March, Friday, in Istanbul. “Women’s Cinema, Women’s Resistance, Cinema of Resistance” will be on screen in 6 cities until the 27th of April. See its website Focusing on the theme “Women’s Cinema, Women’s Resistance, Cinema of Resistance” this year, International Filmmor  Women’s Film Festival on Wheels will kick off on the 13th of March, Friday, in Istanbul. The festival will take place in Istanbul between March 13-22,...


March 2, 2015


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Bastards continues to enjoy screenings in the UK and around the world. Two screenings on International Women’s Day, and more coming up …. Sunday 8 March     Broadway Cinema, Nottingham, UK Sunday 8 March     Arab Women’s Film Festival in The Hague, Holland Thursday 12 March    Pembrokeshire Women’s Festival in Haverfordwest, UK Wednesday 25 March   Salisbury Arts Centre, in conjunction with Amensty International May date TBC     Flying Broom Women’s Film Festival, Ankara, Turkey If you haven’t yet seen Mark Kermode’s review on BBC Radio 5 Live, do take a look here. He says it’s “more tense, more gripping than many films in mainstream cinemas out now”. Let me know what you think, and remember that in the UK anyone can watch it anytime on iTunes or Amazon Instant. All festival selections and...


September 11, 2014


On the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 it’s a good moment to report on the interfaith haven that is the International Festival of Muslim Cinema, taking place now in Kazan, the capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan. Whatever the fearsome history of the Tatars (whom we know as the bloodthirsty Tartars) their republic is now a peaceful place with a population half and half Muslim and Christian. I have just returned from Kazan where my feature documentary “Bastards”, about illegitimate children in Morocco, is the only British film at the festival. Nearly 60 films are being screened from 57 countries including Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Malaysia, Latvia, Brazil, Germany, and Russia (Crimea), but the dominant country is Iran, where cinema is clearly flourishing. There are documentaries about a female...


July 6, 2014


It was a great honour for my film Bastards to be selected to open Morocco’s international documentary festival Fidadoc in April. Lamia Faridi, the heroic lawyer who features in the film, came with me to the screening in front ot the French Consul, the Mayor of Agadir, filmmakers from all over the world, and the Moroccan public. So that was the red carpet moment, but what I enjoyed most was showing the film to an audience of very ordinary women in a small village outside Agadir. They were stunned to see someone like themselves fighting through the Moroccan family courts, and there were tears and whoops of joy at the Q+A afterwards. One woman rushed up and kissed me on the lips at the point in the film where my...


March 21, 2014


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In all the discussion of World War I, its heroism and its futility, a word is often used to describe the soldiers who died. They are the fallen. Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) memorably describes them in his poem For The Fallen: With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free. When it comes to women, though, the fallen are not the country’s heroines. Their flesh has been used in a different way altogether. They are women who have dared to have a sexual experience outside marriage. In Biblical terms, the fallen woman has fallen from grace and into sin. As it has been from time immemorial, there...


January 28, 2014


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…says Shereen El Feki in her excellent TED talk. http://www.ted.com/talks/shereen_el_feki_a_little_told_tale_of_sex_and_sensuality.html I recommend it!


December 6, 2013


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A citizen of the world. A secular saint. An icon of reconciliation. The father of a nation. A profoundly good human being. Madiba. Who can find the words to describe Nelson Mandela? Archbishop Tutu perhaps.Who doesn’t feel a sense of loss at his death? Racist bigots perhaps. I want to record my own memories in tribute to him – very small and insignificant memories, but dear to me. As a student at university 1977 to 1982, and especially as Vice President of the University of London Union (ULU) 1979 to 1980, I was continually involved in campaigning against apartheid in South Africa. With my fellow activists in the Anti-Apartheid Movement, I marched, shouted, raised money and boycotted South African products. Banking at Barclays was unthinkable, as that bank was considered...


November 20, 2013


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Sorry about the corny headline, but it does seem appropriate as tomorrow I fly to Casablanca, where the British Council in Morocco will be hosting a private screening of “Bastards”. Charities, human rights organisations, think tanks, academics and lawyers have been invited, to discuss the issues raised by the film. It’s a personal story, of Rabha El Haimer’s fight through the courts to get her illegitimate daughter recognised by the father, a real life court room drama, and it highlights so many problems in today’s Morocco – illiteracy, domestic violence, access to education, rural poverty, child marriage (now outlawed for under 18s but still possible for 15 year olds with the dispensation of local judges) and teenage pregnancy. It also shows that the Moroccan justice system is open to single...


November 17, 2013


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Thrilling to read a 29 October report about the United Nations Population Fund hosting an event in Morocco, to talk about the taboo of sex outside marriage, exactly the subject of my film “Bastards”. The women in the photo are wearing masks to hide their identities, but in my film all but one of the women is brave enough to speak out openly to the world – though it’s telling that only Rabha is willing to show her face in Morocco. http://www.unfpa.org/public/home/news/pid/15480?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ungen+%28UN+gender+equality+news+feed%29 “Bastards” follows the story of Rabha El Haimer, a Moroccan child bride who was rejected by the husband’s family, and so became a teenage single mother. Ten years later this illiterate young woman, now 24, uses Morocco’s reformed sharia law to get justice for herself and her illegitimate...


October 17, 2013


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TV is a rough and tumble business where there are more great ideas than slots to be filled, and development hell really does exist if your great ideas don’t fit in with what the commissioners are looking for. When you get lucky and you get that hard-won commission (at least in the BBC documentary world where I used to work) you get the money you need to make the film, a guarantee that it will be shown to an audience, and publicity, even if that is only a mention in the TV listings of the daily and weekly press. Out here in the world of independent documentary making, none of those things is certain. I invested my own money to shoot my first feature documentary, “Bastards”. The legal case I...