By Abeer Zeibak Haddad
Women of Freedom (2016) follows the stories of women who were murdered in the name of “honor” in Arab and Palestinian society. The documentary aims to unravel the social and political circumstances that may lead to this troubling phenomenon. Having witnessed such tragedy in her own life, the director embarks on a journey in which she wanders through Israel and Palestine and collects the stories of victims, survivors, and the killers themselves. By presenting these various testimonies and narratives, the film provides a sensitive and substantive look at a terrible phenomenon that continues, seemingly without an end in sight. The painful depiction of violence, social indifference, and the failure of the rule of law in Israel, “whose government turns a blind eye to the tragedies in service of its own agenda,”* wishes to encourage a discussion on this silenced and controversial problem that remains prevalent in many societies of today.
Reviews have praised the film as powerful, mesmerizing, and touching.
Women of Freedom was part of the Haifa International Film Festival and the official selection of the Human Rights Film Festival Barcelona, in November 2017. It was presented in the United Kingdom at the Chichester International Film Festival and the London Feminist Film Festival, both in August 2017; in the United States at the Arab Film Festival and the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF), both in October 2017; and in Africa, it was presented in Harare, Zimbabwe, at the International Images Film Festival for Women (IIFF) in August 2017.
Abeer Zeibak Haddad is a Palestinian filmmaker, theater director, and actress. Born in Nazareth, Abeer lives in Jaffa and currently teaches at Beit Berl College near Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv. She obtained a BA with honors in the history of theatre from Hebrew University and pursued an MA in theater arts from Tel Aviv University, before she embarked on a career in the arts. Among the theatrical works that Abeer has written, produced, and acted in are the plays Aunt Reem, and Chocolates, both of which have won numerous awards at the International Children’s Theatre Festival in Haifa. She also produced the monodrama Mister Ibrahim and the Quran’s Flowers for the Habima Theatre and the Masrahid Theatre Festival in Akko, where it won first prize. Abeer is the author of an important book about Palestinian theater, titled The Palestinian Theatre in the Galilee, and has served as a member of the international jury at the Religion Today Film Festival in Trento, Italy.
In 2011, Abeer produced and directed Duma, the first documentary film about sexual abuse of women in Arab and Palestinian society. Duma received the award for the best television and video professional production at the Urban TV 2012 Festival in Madrid. For more information on this film, please visit TWiP’s archive at http://archive.thisweekinpalestine.com/details.php?id=3758&ed=208&edid=208.
* 21st Arab Film Festival 2017, review available at http://fest.arabfilmfestival.org/2017/films/women-of-freedom/.