About the Documentaries


In Morocco, as in all Muslim countries, sex outside marriage is illegal and women bear the brunt of society’s disapproval. But what is the fate of the children of those single mothers? They cannot attend the better schools, are turned away from infant immunisation clinics and refused government posts. Jobs, housing and a huge range of social advantages are denied them. They are despised outcasts, condemned to a life of discrimination.

When Rabha El Haimer was ‘married’ at the age of 14, she didn’t know that the traditional ceremony had no legal status. Aged 16, and pregnant, she fled the violent man and his family. When her child was born, she discovered society regarded her as no better than any single mother and her cherished daughter, Salma, as a bastard.

But Rabha refused to allow her circumstances to make her into a victim. Instead, unable to read and write and with no family support, she devoted herself to compelling Salma’s father to face up to his responsibilities, and gaining full citizenship for her child. Helping her fight this battle was a unique and radical charity in Casablanca, L’Association Solidarite Feminine. And with her was award-winning filmmaker Deborah Perkin.

Over two years, Deborah’s camera has followed Rabha’s journey. With firsthand testimony from Rabha and others in her position, and with unprecedented access to the family court in Agadir, Bastards reveals the daunting challenge facing single mothers in Morocco today.  In the film, men and women involved speak candidly about sex, love, parenthood and money – the universal themes that concern us all.

Rabha’s story is interwoven with those of a jilted mistress fighting for child maintenance; an illegitimate student denied equal employment rights and a single mother whose boyfriend tried to sell their baby.  All are compelling in their humour, their positive energy and their willingness to change society by taking responsibility for their own fates. It is a gripping and ultimately uplifting and inspiring film.

Rabha-GOOD-and-SalmaDirected and produced by: Deborah Perkin


In January 2016 the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information published the testimonies of five women who had been raped and urged others to contribute with theirs. The editorial office received more than 170 approaches from people who were willing to share their stories. Some of the testimonies are gathered in a video montage, which is now available at whywomen.dk all of January.

All assaults are different but they share certain similarities: feelings of guilt, shame and doubt. The women participating in this project stand forward to fight those feelings. When we hear their testimonies a taboo is broken.

Testimony (Vidnesbyrd #JegBlevVoldtaget) is now nominated for Cavlingprisen – Denmark’s most prestigious award for journalists. It is awarded annually to a journalist or group of journalists who have shown a particular initiative and talent.

Skærmbillede 2016-12-27 kl. 13.58.54Photo: Sigrid Nygaard
Interviews: Lærke Cramon
Editing: Hanne Budtz-Jørgensen
Cutter: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen
Sound and music: Hanne Budtz-Jørgensen and Sandra Boss
Graphics: Rasmus Fly Filbert
Project manager: Simone Sefland
Editor: Anna von Sperling


Meet the Gulabi Gang, a group of women dressed defiantly in pink saris, railing against India’s patriarchal caste system. They are led by Sampat Pal, a former child bride who now fights the oppression and beating of women. A divisive figure, she is at once a saviour for the mistreated, as well as a shameless self-promoter acutely aware of her own celebrity.

UK filmmaker Kim Longinotto (Rough Aunties, MIFF 2008) refuses to deify Pal for her good deeds or condemn her for her faults, opting instead for an objective and complex portrayal. Social injustices collide with larger-than- life characters as Longinotto reveals a side of India too often ignored.

kunniDirected and produced by: Kim Longinotto


Wuhan is a city in central China roughly the size of London, and it is here that director Weijun Chen has conducted an experiment in democracy. A grade 3 class at Evergreen Primary School have their first encounter with elections – choosing their Class Monitor. Eight-year olds compete against each other for the coveted position, applying spin, smear campaigns and other tools one might recognise from “grown-up politics”. The purpose of Weijun Chen’s experiment is to determine how, if democracy came to China, it would be received. Is democracy a universal value that fits human nature? Do elections inevitably lead to manipulation and corruption? Please Vote for Me is a portrait of a society through a school, it’s children and their families.

3 Candidates 2 Directed by: Weijun Chen

Saving Face

Every year in Pakistan, at least 100 people are victimized by brutal acid attacks. The majority of these are women, and many MORE cases go unreported.  With little or no access to reconstructive surgery, survivors are physically and emotionally scarred, while many reported assailants – typically a husband or someone close to the victim – are let go with minimal punishment from the state.

SAVING FACE tells the stories of two acid-attack survivors: Zakia and Rukhsana, their arduous attempts to bring their assailants to justice, and the charitable work of London-based, Pakistani-born plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who strives to help these women put this horrific act behind them and move on with their lives.

Directed by Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Daniel Junge and Emmy-winning Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, SAVING FACE is an intimate look inside Pakistani society, illuminating each women’s personal journey while showing how reformers are tackling this vexing problem.

This 40 minute version is a 2012 Oscar WINNER in the category of Best Documentary Short.

savingfaceDirected by Daniel Junge & Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Produced by Davis Coombe

No Burqas Behind Bars

No Burqas Behind Bars is a documentary shot inside one of the most restrictive places on the planet, Takhar Prison in Afghanistan. Its 40 women inmates, crammed into just four cells, living their lives entirely cut off from outside society. Their stories are deeply compelling and are a testament to the strength and dignity of the human will in the face of obscene conditions.

Women are normally faceless in Afghanistan. Outside the home burqas cover them from head to toe. The all-encompassing burqas completely mask their identity, rendering Afghan women invisible. And voiceless. These are women who in public have no voice.
There are no burqas in Takhar Prison. They are not needed. There is no one from whom they must hide their faces. Just as there is no one to punish them for showing their faces. In prison, the burqa is irrelevant.

40 women in Takhar Prison. Some have murdered rapists and abusive husbands. Most have been imprisoned for so-called “moral crimes”. One woman has been imprisoned for 12 years for visiting her mother without her husband’s permission. Another woman is there because she gave shelter to a homeless girl who was subsequently discovered to have run away from an arranged marriage to a man 40 years her senior. Their visually and intellectually compelling stories, told by the prisoners themselves, is the heart of this film.

No Burqas Behind BarsDirected by Nima Sarvestani & Maryam Ebrahimi Production Nima Film

The Secret Slaves of The Middle East

Danish Middle East-correspondent Puk Damsgård, ventures into a world few in the west dare to imagine.

Maids in the Middle East live their lives locked up in private homes. Behind closed doors, they work under circumstances resembling slavery. The women have left their families in Asia and Africa dreaming of better lives for themselves and their loved ones. Instead they often become captives in Arab homes, working virtually up to 18 hours per day and experiencing violence, sexual abuse and in some cases torture.

For a year Puk Damsgaard follows the life of a Filipino maid named Mary Joy Dao-Ay. She left her 3 children in the Philippines, planning to pay for their education by earning a higher salary in Lebanon. Instead she was forced to flee for her own safety, stuck in Lebanon seeking refuge at a shelter. The secret slaves of the Middle East is the story of Mary Joys’ desperate struggle for justice, in a country with no labour laws protecting foreign domestic workers, and where the special Arab Kefala-system renders it impossible for an unskilled worker to leave the country or change their employer. It is the story of how poverty leads unprivileged women from developing countries to be deceived and trafficked into slavery.

Mellemøstens skjulte slaver4Directed by Søren Klovborg and Puk Damsgård Production DR Running time 44 min

“When I lived in Beirut, I noticed there were a lot of housemaids. My neighbour had two maids employed, they never left the house. Therefore I thought it was an interesting idea, when my colleague Søren Klovborg called and proposed that we should make this film. The film is extremely important because it shows that in 2016 there is still a huge unregulated labour market many places in the world, where everything can happen. Millions of primarily African and Asian women work as maids in private homes under conditions which should not be possible in this century. The film shows how they are trafficked and thereafter fall victim to a system that renders them extremely weak, with no possibility of taking legal action if they are victims of for example violence or rape. Every day there are maids who try to escape from their employers. The scale of the problem is enourmous. It has been very fullfilling to work intensely with this subject, because these stories need to be told”

Puk Damsgård

Søren Klovborg has more than 20 years experience as a producer, editor, scriptwriter and consultant. He has been the driving force behind award-winning documentary reports about the trade of human organs, surrogate mothers, and for a number of years he has been the editor of DR Documentaries and ”Horisont”. As editor and consultant he has been involved in many documentaries supported by the Danish Film Institute. After the Arab spring, Søren has trained journalists in the Middle East, focusing on investigative journalism, ethics and dramaturgy. Training courses have taken place in Beirut, where part of this documentary was filmed.

Puk Damsgård has been a journalist and correspondent for the past 8 years. From 2008 she was the correspondent for Jyllands-Posten in Pakistan and Afghanistan, until she in 2011 moved to the Middle East as correspondent for DR News. She has published 5 books and won numerous awards including The Readers Book Award in 2015 for the book ”Under a Crying Sun” about the war in Syria. She has received the Cavling Award for her work in the Middle East and her latest book “The ISIS Hostage”, which will be published in 9 countries.

State of The Women

A portrait of inspiring women who have devoted their lives to improve the conditions of girls and women worldwide.

Every single day 39.000 girls under the age of 18 are sold of to marriage. Every single day at least two women are acid-attacked in India. On the African continent more than three million girls and women are circumcised every year,  and circumcision is frequently practiced with either a razor blade, scissors, broken glass or lids from cans. The statistics are frightening, yet things are moving in the right direction due to the efforts of many strong advocates around the globe. State of the Women follows inspiring women during one day of their lives, providing the audience with a unique insight to their everyday lives – battles costing blood, sweat and tears. In the film you will meet the young Afghan rapper Sonita, the Chinese feminist activist Li Ting Ting, CEO of Save the Children; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, among other inspiring and strong women.

Stærke Kvinder 2Directed by Louise Unmack Kjeldsen Produced by Mette Heide, Plus Pictures
Running time: 45 min

“When dealing with the hard facts about women’s lack of rights, one can easily feel despair. That is at least how I felt when I started researching for this movie. Girls are sold as child brides, women are disfigured by acid attacks, milions of girls will never go to school because of poverty. Etc etc. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and luckily there are strong forces around the world who struggle to improve conditions for those women and girls who have no rights.
That’s what makes this film important. It is a film about hope and the will to change. In the movie “Strong Women” we have portrayed seven inspirational women who are striving to make the world a better place for girls and women”

Louise Unmack Kjeldsen

Louise Unmack Kjeldsen is a documentary film director and journalist born in 1964. She graduated from The Danish School of Journalism in 1997. Lately she has created the series ”Rebel from the ghetto” (DR3) about the secret lives of ethnic minorities. The documentary ”Screwed in Nakskov” (TV2/DFI)  which won the 2015 Danish TV Award. She was also nominated in three categories in 2014, for her series ”Selfies” (DR3). She has directed numerous documentaries such as ”A cursed year” til TV2/DFI , ”The wounded” (DR/DFI) and ”Big girls don’t cry” for TV2/DFI. She has previously won the Danish TV-award for best factual programme in 2008 with the documentary ”My best teacher” (TV2) and in 2000 for ”Mothers in reality”.

Mette Heide is an award-winning executive producer and owner of +plus pictures ApS. She has worked as an executive producer for the past 20 years and has produced more than 50 films. Currently she is working on a feature length documentary about Amanda Knox. The film will launch on Netflix in 2016 as a Netflix original. She has also produced titles such as Jehane Noujaim’s SOLAR MAMAS, part of the Peabody award-winning series WHY POVERTY, Lauren Greenfield’s Sundance-winning ”Queen Of Versailles”, the award-winning series WHY DEMOCRACY that included Alex Gibney’s Academy Award-winning ”Taxi To The Dark Side”. She is a three-time winner of the Danish Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Crown Princess Mary’s Mission

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark has become a strong advocate for gender equality and women´s rights globally. As protector for the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), she works tirelessly among powerful heads of state as well as on the ground in some of the world’s poorest areas.

In this program we venture with HRH Crown Princess Mary in the field, when she visits the poverty-stricken west-african nation of Burkina Faso, where she is joining the efforts of local women to gain the right to self-determination over their own bodies. We also revisit HRH’s visit to Senegal last year, where she was involved in the campaign against Female genital mutilation – a painful practice causing harm to millions of women in Africa and some parts of Asia. She reveals the details of her work in the struggle for women’s rights and for empowering disenfranchised women across the globe.

Kronprinsesse Mary

Directed by Lene Johansen and Helle Slejborg Production: DR  Running time: 28 ½ min

“I have previously worked with female genital mutilation when I was doing “Courageous Women” in Kenya. It is deeply distressing that this debilitating intervention is still common in many regions. In Burkina Faso we met a 15-year old girl, who was hospitalized with complications from a circumcision. It is very painful to witness. Often these things happen due to ignorance. In her case, her parents believed she would not be capable of having children unless she was circumcised – often it ends the opposite way. It means a lot to me that I can help spread the word, both at home and internationally, to support the great work that takes place. It’s crazy that many women are not allowed to decide simple things for themselves; whether they should go to the doctor or whom they should marry. Equality creates a more just world, and it means a lot to me to support these women by putting a spotlight on their issues”

Lene Johansen

Lene Johansen, one of Denmark’s most famous presenters and television journalists, has followed Crown Princess Mary on her trip to Burkina Faso. Lene Johansen is a journalist with 25 years experience in radio, television and the press – books, newspapers and magazines. She has hosted the evening news and the documentary series “Death to Downs”, “Seduced by a Fraudster” and has also been behind the series “European Divas” on European actresses over 60 years with Karen Widding and the series “Courageous Women” about women all over the the world who put their lives at risk for a greater cause. She is known as a skilled and clever interviewer, capable of uncovering complicated cases as well as personal stories of both famous and unknown people.

Helle Slejborg is one of Denmark’s most experienced television producers. With great journalistic flair and commitment, she has facilitated both entertaining and factual in-depth TV programmes over the past 15 years. Helle Slejborg has organized a vast range of well-known TV concepts such as “This is Your Life”, ” Happy Report” and ”Legal Aid”. She has repeatedly proven her ability to create compelling stories, whether the protagonist is the country’s prime minister or a welfare recipient.

Solar Mamas

Rafea is the second wife of a Bedouin husband. She is selected to attend the Barefoot College in India that takes uneducated middle-aged women from poor communities and trains them to become solar engineers.

The college’s 6-month programme brings together women from all over the world. Learning about electrical components and soldering without being able to read, write or understand English is the easy part. Witness Rafea’s heroic efforts to pull herself and her family out of poverty.


Directed by Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim Produced by Mette Heide, Plus Pictures Running time 58 min

Welcome to the World

130 million babies are born each year, and not one of them decides where they’ll be born or how they’ll live. In Cambodia, you’re likely to be born to a family living on less than $1/day. In Sierra Leone chances of surviving the first year are half those of the worldwide average. Brian Hill takes a worldwide trip to meet the newest generation – In the US Starr’s new baby could well be one more of 1.6 million homeless children now living in the streets.


Directed by Brian Hill Running time: 52 min

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World

West Lake Restaurant in South China’s Changsha can safely call itself the biggest Chinese restaurant in the world, with its staff of 1,000 working 5,000 tables and serving no fewer than 150 ducks per day and 200 snakes per week.

The words of the restaurant’s staff and guests are used in the film to paint a picture of modern China: the proprietress, one of the city’s 20 self-made millionaires, speaks candidly about her failed marriage; a bridegroom-to-be who is celebrating at the restaurant explains the modern Chinese customs associated with the wedding party; and a waitress visits her poor parents in the countryside. Through these scenes, we gain insight into the unique combination of the ancient religious values and the new capitalist values with which China is stepping into the 21st century. What becomes very clear is that not everyone is set to benefit from the economic boom.

Manager Xiao

Directed by Weijun Chen Running time: 50 min


After surviving a 14-year civil war and a government riddled with corruption, Liberia is ready for change. On January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated President – the first freely elected female head of state in Africa. Having won a hotly contested election with the overwhelming support of women across Liberia, Sirleaf faces the daunting task of lifting her country from debt and devastation. She turns to a remarkable team of women, appointing them in positions such as police chief, finance minister, minister of justice, commerce minister and minister of gender.

With exclusive access, directors Daniel Junge and Siatta Scott Johnson follow these “Iron Ladies” behind the scenes during their critical first year in office as they tackle indolent bureaucracy, black markets and the omnipresent threat of violent riots. Highlighting the challenges that African countries currently face, this film provides an uplifting example of women who have become the backbone of change. As the filmmakers explore a historic transition from authoritarianism to democracy, the viewer is treated to a joyous, inspirational testimony of the political power of women’s leadership and diplomacy.

Iron LadiesDirected by Daniel Junge and Siatta Scott Johnson Running time: 52 min


Banned in India since its completion earlier this year, Leslee Udwin’s film is the story of an exceptional and inspiring young woman, the 23-year-old medical student Jyoti Singh, now publicly known as “India’s Daughter.” In December 2012, Jyoti was gang-raped by 6 men on a moving bus in Delhi, thrown naked and bleeding onto the highway, and died 13 days later. The film documents her short life, and the explosive cultural and political climate surrounding her brutal rape murder which led to an explosion of public outrage, mass street protests, and India’s biggest social mobilization since the country’s fight for independence. The savage rape of Jyoti Singh raised the fury of Indians and shook the social fabric of the country, and the world, to the core. A moving and illuminating film, INDIA’S DAUGHTER bears witness to the truth about rape in global society, and the shift in attitudes that looms on the horizon. Unveiling the world leadership of the Indian people in demanding the right of women to live free from sexual violence, whilst simultaneously decrying the patriarchal mindset which encourages abuse of women and girls, the film has been hailed as sparking a movement for change for women in India and around the world.

Indias Daughter

Directed by Leslee Udwin Running time: 63 min

Leslee Udwin was voted by the NY Times the No 2 Most Impactful Woman of 2015 (second to Hillary Clinton), and has been awarded the prestigious Swedish Anna Lindh Human Rights Prize (previously won by Madeleine Albright). She has also been named Safe’s Global Hero of 2015, Global Thinker by Foreign Policy, and has won the Best Producer Award (Women in Film & Television) for her ground-breaking documentary “India’s Daughter”.

Leslee’s first documentary feature and her debut as a director, multi-award winning “India’s Daughter”, has been critically acclaimed around the globe, provoked a global discussion about gender equality and violation of the rights of women and girls, and sparked a movement.

The perspective and insights yielded by the 2½ journey whilst making “India’s Daughter”, have led Leslee to be founder and CEO of an NGO (UK and US based) – Equality Studies Global Initiative “Think Equal”. The intiative aims to bring the missing 3rd dimension to the world’s school-going population: human rights education in values, respect, empathy, on a compulsory basis and from the first day of a child’s journey at school. Leslee is working with the United Nations Human Rights Office on this global human rights education mission.


This film follows Claudine, a young and courageous human rights lawyer, in her struggle against injustice and widespread impunity in Congo.

She investigates the case of Masamba, a soldier who was convicted of rape, and discovers that his trial was corrupt and unfair. He was jailed without any concrete evidence. In Claudine’s journey to obtain justice, she uncovers a system where the basic principles of law are virtually ignored. Masamba’s trial also raises questions about the financial support that the international community and NGOs offer to the Congolese judicial system. Is it creating a justice that’s for sale? And if so, who pays the price?

JUSTICE FOR SALE is the third documentary in Ilse and Femke van Velzen’s trilogy about the Congo, after making Fighting the Silence and Weapon of War.



Ilse van Velzen together with her sister Femke van Velzen are internationally recognized, award-winning filmmakers. The twin sisters expose injustice and give oppressed people a voice. Since 2002, they direct and produce independent documentaries as IFPRODUCTIONS, using an unique mixture of cinematographic style with a journalistic approach.

They worked in the Congo for seven years making ‘Fighting the Silence’; about the consequences for rape victims and ‘Weapon of War’; confessions of rape by rebels and military. ‘Justice For Sale’, their latest film, emerged as a natural “next step” in the progression of the unintentional series. They currently work on their new documentary in South Sudan ‘A Haunting History’.

The formula of the two passionate and driven filmmakers researching, scripting, directing, producing and marketing their own films have led to ten successful years and multiple award-winning documentaries. The strength of the company lays in the 200% commitment the filmmakers put into their chosen stories. Attached to every documentary are outreach- and impact strategies to facilitate awareness raising, education/information and discussion.

The filmmakers are proud that their work reaches a worldwide audience. They are committed to capture the attention of policymakers and politicians. As part of their commitment to local communities they portray, they offer their films as educational tools through travelling Mobile Cinemas.

 For more information about the film, please visit:
www.ifproductions.nl // http://www.facebook.com/IFDocumentaries

Rough Aunties

Fearless, feisty and resolute, the “Rough Aunties” are a remarkable group of women unwavering in their stand to protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. This latest documentary by internationally acclaimed director Kim Longinotto (SISTERS IN LAW, DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE) follows the outspoken, multiracial cadre of Thuli, Mildred, Sdudla, Eureka and Jackie, as they wage a daily battle against systemic apathy, corruption, and greed to help the most vulnerable and disenfranchised of their communities.

Despite the harsh realities of violence, poverty, and racism in the women’s work at the Bobbi Bear child welfare organization and in the heartaches of their personal lives, the portraits that emerge on screen are filled with grace, wisdom, friendship, and a deeply stirring conviction. Neither politics, nor social or racial divisions stand a chance against the united force of the women. Once again Longinotto has managed to bring us an intimate portrait of change from Africa, this time from post-apartheid South Africa, a nation being transformed with hope and energy into a new democracy.

Rough Aunties

Directed by Kim Longinotto Produced by Teddy Leifer & Paul Taylor Running time 45 minutes

Kim Longinotto is one of the preeminent documentary filmmakers working today, renowned for creating extraordinary human portraits and tacklingcontroversial topics with sensitivity and compassion. Her films have wonmany international awards including, the Prix Art Essai at Cannes for SISTERS IN LAW and a BAFTA for DIVORCE IRANIAN STYLE. Her other Awardwinning work includes, DREAM GIRLS, THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET, SHINJUKUBOYS, GAEA GIRLS & HOLD ME TIGHT LET ME GO.