The Pixel Project Selection 2012: 16 Films About Violence Against Women

The Pixel Project’s annual selection of films, documentaries and television shows that raise awareness about violence against women has been a fixture in our annual “16 For 16” campaign from the very beginning. We firmly believe that the “Show, Not Tell” principle is one of the most powerful ways to create a connection between the movement to end violence against women and the person on the street who might not have even given this human rights issue a thought before. Film and television are some of the best tools that activists and educators have at their disposal to shape and galvanise public opinion and action to prevent and stop violence against women (VAW) in their communities remains strong.

2012 has been a bumper year for films and documentaries about violence against women, some of which have won major awards. This indicates that this major human rights issue is starting to come out of the shadows and that the wall of silence surrounding it may not be completely eradicated but is, at the very least, cracked enough to start conversations.

Yet the making of films and documentaries about VAW should not be restricted to the professionals and we hope that budding filmmakers will take advantage of the fact that technology is becoming ever more affordable and accessible to the masses, and that the influence of these audio-visual tools has also been magnified tremendously by the power of the Internet in two ways:

Firstly, access to films and documentaries is no longer just limited to people who can afford cinema tickets, televisions and cable/satellite subscriptions. Anyone, anywhere in the world who has access to decent internet speeds are now able to access any film, television series or documentary they fancy by streaming or downloading the content.

Secondly, with video-driven sites such as YouTube and Vimeo allowing budding filmmakers and artistes to upload and share their work for very little cost (or even free of charge), they are fast becoming an alternative channel for films, documentaries and public service announcements to be shared.

We hope that this year’s diverse selection will provide a thought-provoking range of resources to help you kick start discussions about VAW that break the wall of silence and taboo in your community.


Selection Number 1: A Way to Justice: Engaging Men for Women’s Rights and Gender Transformation

A Way To Justice is a 2011 feature-length documentary that follows the lives of four people in Africa aims at challenging patriarchy, end men’s violence against women and promote gender equality. Unusually among documentaries and films about violence against women, A Way To Justice focuses on the role men play in helping stop the violence and the efforts being made to get them on board the movement.

Selection Number 2: Banaz A Love Story

Banaz A Love Story is a documentary film chronicling an act of horror – the brutal honour killing of Banaz Mahmod, a young British Kurdish woman in suburban London in 2006, killed and “disappeared” by her own family, with the agreement and help of a large section of the Kurdish community, because she tried to choose a life for herself. It was a case which shocked the entire world and received enormous international press coverage. This film tells Banaz’s story, in her own words, for the first time – and tells the story of the extraordinary police team who refused to give up, and finally brought her killers to justice.

Selection Number 3: Born Into Brothels

Born into Brothels by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, is the winner of the 2004 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It puts together a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes.

Selection Number 4: From Fear to Freedom: Ending Violence Against Women

In this short documentary by the Women’s Learning Partnership, leading experts and activists from across the globe discuss the root causes of gender-based violence, share strategies to combat it, and provide inspiring accounts of the important milestones already achieved through the international women’s movement.

Selection Number 5: Girl Model

Documentary-makers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin present an account of a form of human trafficking: the modelling industry that sends underaged Russians girls to Asia as wannabe models to be exploited. The story is told through the eyes of a 13-year-old Siberian girl and the American scout who discovered her. It follows a complex global supply chain of young girls sent abroad to seek their fortunes in the unregulated and often murky world of the modeling industry.

Selection Number 6: Half The Sky

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide premiered on PBS October 1 and 2, 2012. A four-hour documentary series based on the bestselling book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, it follows Kristof and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde as they travel throughout the developing world to introduce women and girls who are living under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable—and fighting bravely to change them.

Selection Number 7: In The Time Of Butterflies

In The Time of Butterflies tells the story of the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were violently assassinated in 1960 during the Trujillo dictatorship (Rafael Trujillo 1930-1961) after repeated incarcerations for opposing Rafael Trujillo. The date of their assassination marks International Elimination of Violence Against Women Day and the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.

Selection Number 8: Opium Brides

In the PBS documentary Opium Brides, FRONTLINE correspondent Najibullah Quraishi goes deep inside the Afghan countryside to reveal how local farm families are forced to give up their daughters to drug smugglers in order to repay debts after the Afghan government destroys their opium crops. To watch the full episode online, go to:

Selection Number 9: Rape For Who I Am

Rape For Who I Am is a documentary that tackles the issue of corrective rape in South Africa. It provides insight into the lives of South Africa’s black lesbians who are raped because of their sexuality. The documentary follows four courageous survivors, Keba, Bathini, Mary, and Buhle, who refuse to become victims. Set in Johannesburg and its surrounding townships, the film interweaves the experiences of these four survivors as they prepare for an annual Gay Pride celebration.

Selection 10: SASA! A Film about Women, Violence and HIV/AIDS

Sasa! is a Kiswahili word, meaning now! It is a call to action Now is the time to make the connection between violence against women and HIV/AIDS. This 30-minute documentary film tells two women’s personal stories of violence and HIV/AIDS.

Selection Number 11: Saving Face

Every year in Pakistan, there are at least 100 people attacked with acid, the majority of whom are women. The groundbreaking documentary Saving Face is the story of two survivors of such attacks and their battle for justice and their journey of healing. This documentary is directed by Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmaker Daniel Junge and Oscar and Emmy-winning Pakistan director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Saving Face won the 2012 Academy Award For Documentary (Short Subject).

Selection Number 12: Street Dreams

Street Dreams is a documentary aiming to expose the dark world of human trafficking and child prostitution in Asia, while seeking out the heros behind the tales of hope and rescue of these enslaved victims. The documentary explores the stories of young girls in South East Asia, trapped in a world where they are exploited, their childhoods stolen from them, but who still have dreams.

Selection Number 13: The Invisible War

The Invisible War is a groundbreaking feature-length documentary about one of the U.S.’s  most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem – that a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defence estimates there were a staggering 19,000 violent sex crimes in the military in 2010. This documentary is the winner of the 2012 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and is directed by Oscar®- and Emmy®-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick.

Selection Number 14: The Price of Sex

The Price of Sex is a feature-length documentary about young Eastern European women who have been drawn into a world of sex trafficking and abuse. It is a story told by the young women who refused to be silenced by shame, fear, and violence. Emmy-nominated photojournalist Mimi Chakarova, who grew up in Bulgaria, exposes the shadowy world of sex trafficking from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Western Europe. Filming undercover, Chakarova illuminates how even though some women escape to tell their stories, sex trafficking thrives.

Selection Number 15: The Science of Violence Against Women: The Stories of Women

Two centers at the University of Kentucky including the Center For Research On Violence Against Women collaborate on a documentary using the stories of women to explain the science of studying violence against women.

Selection Number 16: Women With Altitude

On the snow-covered peaks of the Bolivian Andes seven women are undertaking an epic journey. They are the survivors and friends of survivors of domestic abuse, bound together by their experiences. Struck by rockfall, severe weather, dissension and altitude sickness, the team’s climb becomes a breathtaking and triumphant visual metaphor for finding the strength to overcome life’s most colossal ordeals. The film also explores the issue of Bolivia’s endemic domestic abuse.


Give back while giving joy this Christmas:

Searching for an affordable gift that is both empowering and uplifting for someone in need of that extra encouragement and good vibes this Christmas? Check out our “16 For 16” digital EP featuring 5 songs aimed at lifting the spirits and empowering survivors of Violence Against Women worldwide via all major online music stores including iTunes, Amazon, Google Music, Spotify and many more. Prices range from US$4.95 to US$6.45 depending on region and retailer and 100% of the proceeds go towards keeping The Pixel Project’s programmes and projects running. Just click on the buttons below to be taken to the EP’s download page in your preferred online music store:

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