Morocco, men are rigidly patriarchal and domineering of woman, yet they often
expect their wives and sisters to provide for them. That is a nasty catch-22 to reconcile. The divorced Khadija does her best as a
wedding videographer, but it is never good enough for her freeloading
family. Karima Zoubir documents her
daily grind in Camera/Woman (trailer here), an Al Jazeera
co-production screening as part of the 2013 Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
is a man’s world, but women like Khadija do all the house work and evidently pay
most of the bills. After her divorce,
she and her young son moved back in with her parents and her lazy
brothers. At least her mother does some
cooking. The rest of the family seems incapable of doing anything besides
passing judgment on her. Yet, it is her
jobs videotaping weddings (where everyone looks happy except the brides) and
circumcision ceremonies that pays their rent. Unfortunately, that means she
must work evening hours, which essentially makes her a prostitute in the eyes
of her brother Abdel. Why, he can barely
find the magnanimity to gorge on the food she buys.
Khadija’s conflict with her family reaches a critical point, remaining
unresolved when Zoubir’s film ends. If
she made good on her promise to cut them off financially, there is an excellent
chance they have all starved to death since then.
C/W is brought to you in part by Al
Jazeera and, no, the film never digs too deeply into the socio-religious
institutions responsible for the rampant sexism and exploitation Khadija and
her fellow divorcees endure. Still, the
women mince no words, decrying: “In our society there’s no mercy. It’s
ruthless.” Likewise, it is clearly a
disastrous Ramadan celebration when the family resentments come to a head.
is far from a perfect film. Khadija’s friends are not well established
and most of her family is understandably camera shy. Nonetheless, it vividly illustrates the misogynist
nature of traditional Islamist society. Camera/Woman is the sort of film that
instills outrage and a feeling of helplessness in viewers. Presented on a double bill with Going Up the Stairs, it makes a
convincing case women’s rights are several millennia behind the times in the
Middle East. One of a handful of
eye-opening selections at this year’s HRW Film Fest, Camera/Woman screens this coming Sunday (6/16) at the IFC Center
and the following Tuesday (6/18) at the Francesca Beale Theater.
Labels: Documentary, HRWFF '13, Moroccan Cinema