|DVD REVIEWS | fall 2008
feminist films available for home viewing
Jafar Panahi, director
Panahi, an Iranian whose films are banned in his own country,
is known for exposing injustice and persecution. His
latest film, shot on the actual day of Iran’s 2005 World Cup
qualifying match against Bahrain, focuses on six young
women who are die-hard soccer fans. Because women in
Iran are officially banned from attending men’s sporting
events, they must disguise themselves as men to enter the
soccer stadium. The half-dozen are eventually rounded up
and placed in a holding pen just out of view of the field, so
they—like us—manage to see only glimpses of the game.
This lighthearted and humorous film, imbued with the
illusion of cinema vérité, condemns Iran’s oppressive treatment
of women, but also shows how the gender divide can
be tossed aside in the throes of victory. Widely available.
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, directors
Adapted from Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel, this
animated feature uses stark black-and-white drawings to tell
a rich and nuanced coming-of-age story. Set in Iran against
the backdrop of the Islamic Revolution and the subsequent
war with Iraq, the film follows young Marjane as she contradicts
her fundamentalist teacher, scoffs at a decidedly
overdressed woman model in a life drawing class and barely
escapes arrest while buying an Iron Maiden cassette.
Ultimately sent to Europe to escape Tehran’s oppressive
educational system, Marjane grapples with the universal
adolescent feelings of alienation. Satrapi’s art translates
seamlessly to cinema, with the abstract quality of her images
allowing viewers to project their own experiences into her
poignant yet humorous narrative. Widely available.
Arne Johnson and Shane King, directors
This lively documentary follows four youngsters at a girlsonly,
weeklong rock ’n’ roll camp as they learn to compose,
play their instruments and, above all, rock out.
Imagine the privilege of having Beth Ditto, lead singer of
the Gossip, as vocal coach and Carrie Brownstein, guitarist
and vocalist of Sleater-Kinney, as a camp counselor. On
the downer side, animated interludes provide dismal statistics
about women in music and show how girls are underencouraged
to make music. Viewers may be amused by the
girls whom their co-campers find most excruciating,
including Palace, whose mom describes her as “the only 8-
year-old who’s concerned about being marketable.” But
Palace has a point: Today’s rock audiences usually value
female musicians more for their appearance than their creativity.
Available from www.girlsrockmovie.com.
The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo
Lisa F. Jackson, director
Jackson’s documentary is a shocking exposé of the decadeold
epidemic of kidnapping, rape and torture in the civilwar-
torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. Along the
way she introduces spellbinding real-life characters, from
menacing Congolese soldier-rapists to heroic doctors,
humanitarian workers and policewomen. Jackson, who was
herself gang-raped in the U.S. many years before, shares her
story with Congolese victims (who can’t believe her country
wasn’t at war when she was sexually assaulted); they respond
by recounting the atrocities carried out with impunity by
armed militias. Jackson gives voice to some of the 250,000
women who, in the aftermath of sexual violence, have suffered
silently, ashamed to tell what has happened to them
and shunned by their communities. She also captures their
courage and grace. Available from www.wmm.com.