I am by no means a film critic. I would barely label myself a film enthusiast. I don’t know what my relationship to movies is. It’s similar to music. I love finding weird, poignant, sad, movies that make you think. I watch them. I enjoy the moment. I think about it for maybe a day or so after. Then I forget about it and move on with my life. I just love sharing that moment with the characters.
At BIFF, I saw four films. One was a documentary. I will review them in the order I saw them. As I’m writing, I see this could get lengthy. I will divide these reviews into individual posts.
Where am I?: Beyond Girl and Woman— This is a Korean-made documentary directed by Kim Hyo-jung. It is about the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in a few African countries. I remember Kenya, and Ethiopia, and I believe Nigeria? But don’t quote me on that. FGM is the practice of cutting or removing parts of the female genitalia such as the clitoris, labia minora, or/and majora. I went to see the film for two reasons: One, I’m interested in this issue, and two I have never seen a documentary on African peoples through the eyes of Koreans.
The film itself wasn’t that great in quality. Which is fine, but the sound was really terrible at a lot of points throughout. The film opened on a ‘cutting’ ceremony for a couple young girls. They walk through their town while family, friends, and others play music, adorn them with decorations, and celebrate the moment. The film bounces back from moments in various towns and villages who still practice FGM and to girls who spend the cutting season at an Anti-FGM camp. There are other “experts” who comment on the situation throughout. They all were against FGM. They spoke to the practitioners and the girls themselves. Also to their husbands and families. I think the film did a good job of giving a voice to the women who actually undergo or who may undergo the practice. Whether they were for or against it, they were given a chance to speak and I appreciated that.
Despite the low quality, the message came through loud and clear. I even found myself crying at a couple points throughout the movie. Also, going into the film I was on the fence with the issue. I felt that it wasn’t the outsiders place to come in and tell people that they are barbaric and need to do what they’re told. I also felt that how could we condone male circumcision and criticize FGM. I think now I believe that no matter the culture this practice is brutal and has too high a chance of death. And for what? Men were saying it’s a women’s thing and women were saying its the men fault because they do it to please them. It’s all just a bunch of shaming of women’s bodies and gossip. This film is a resource in helping me form a firmer stance against the practice. It really is incomparable to male circumcision. However, I believe male circumcision should wait as well. Let the boy decide for himself.
I’m pretty sure I was the only black person in the theater at this showing. I was pretty hyper-aware of that fact. The couple next to me kept snickering at odd points in the documentary. I wasn’t sure if they were laughing at the women’s appearance or just a little uncomfortable and expressed it through a small laugh. Other than that it was insightful for me to see Koreans interested in this topic.
I would recommend this film as something to view on Netflix if it ends up there. I felt that the film could of had more interesting commentary when it came to the people they went to for factual information. One of the women simply read out of a book. It was a little odd. That and the sound quality brought the overall experience down for me.
Be sure to check out the next review soon. The film is called Paulina.