5 Films for International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day, here is a list of the films at the heart of the seminar I just taught on women, gender, and religion in film.

Pray the Devil Back to Hell (Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker, 2008) — a spellbinding documentary about the struggle of Liberia’s Christian and Muslim women to rescue their nation from horrific violence. Part of PBS’s excellent “Women, War, and Peace” documenrary series. Winner, best documentary, Tribeca Film Festival.

Where Do We Go Now? (Nadine Labaki, 2011) — a brilliant, often hysterically funny fable about women who will do whatever it takes to knock sense into their Lebanese village’s warring men. Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival.

Snijeg (Snow) (Aida Begic, 2008) — a gorgeously evocative story of women’s desperation and resilience in the aftermath of war, set in a small eastern Bosnian village in the late 1990s. Winner of the critics’ week grand prize, Cannes Film Festival.

Wadjda (Haifaa Al Mansour, 2013) — the first feature-length film shot in Saudi Arabia, a beautifully textured tale of a ten-year-old girl who wants nothing more than her own bike. Winner of numerous international film awards.

Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2014) — an absorbing and haunting film about cultural identity and memory in post-Holocaust Poland. Oscar winner, best foreign language film.

The films themselves — all of which have captivated me in recent years — generated the idea for this seminar, which has offered my students and me a fresh new way to explore the enduring complexities of religious identity, gender, and power.

About Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson teaches religion, ethics, philosophy, and human rights at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. He is the author of *American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940* (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) and nonfiction essays about Bosnia for the Canadian literary magazine *Numero Cinq*. Born in 1975 in Olean, NY, he earned the Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia, where he specialized in American religious history. He writes, teaches, and lectures about religion in America, popular culture, Mormonism, and Bosnia. He lives in Exeter with his partner, Alexis Simpson, and their two children.
This entry was posted in Bosnia, Christianity, Ethics, Feminism, Film, Gender, Human Rights, Islam, Judaism, Peacebuilding, Race, Religion and Politics, Religion and Spirituality, Social Justice, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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