Interview with Penelope Machipi, filmmaker involved with 16 Days campaign
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24 Novembre 2011
Penelope Machipi is a young Zambian filmmaker who directed “The Hidden Truth”, a documentary that tackles the issue of domestic violence and is being used as a tool for social change in local communities in Zambia.
As part of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign”, WAGGGS will be showing the documentary online on 30 November, at 15:00 GMT. The webinar (online seminar) will also give you the opportunity to take part in Q&A session with the filmmaker Penelope. Make sure you tune in to take part in the seminar.
Here, in an interview with Camfedn, Penelope speaks candidly about making and presenting this powerful film about domestic violence in Zambia.
Q: What was your initial reason for making a film about domestic violence?
For this, the Samfya Women Filmmakers’ second film, we researched topics and talked with women in the community. We learned a lot of women have been victims of domestic violence, and we wanted to make a film to help people learn about the problem and stop it.
Q: What was your experience making a film on such a sensitive, personal topic?
In fact it was very hard and at times very scary. We got threatened by men, people tried to take our camera, and we were told that we had “no respect to tell this story.”
It was interesting the reaction some men had to us with our camera and gear.
They were afraid of us—they thought we were going to get them arrested. One husband even confessed to us, and then started treating his wife better, even doing the housework once he thought he was going to get in trouble!
Q: Well thankfully you not only got the film done, you’ve screened it all over the country, in numerous settings! What kind of responses have you received from these community members regarding what they perceive as the causes of domestic violence?
Women’s responses have been that it’s because of poverty. Women are not educated and not economically independent, and they have children to look after – that’s why often they feel unable to leave, as they have no other support.
Some people believe that if your husband beats you it means that he loves you, and if you report him then you will be accused of wanting to send your husband to jail.
Now, since Hidden Truth, people are saying that women need more of an education about what path to take if they’re suffering from domestic violence.
Q: Have you seen any other evidence of changes in attitudes or behavior around domestic violence in your community since the screening?
There has definitely been a change in attitudes and behaviour since Hidden Truth. We are starting to see people living in peace. Screening the film has brought issues of domestic violence out into the open, when previously people were not comfortable discussing the topic.
The questions and answer sessions after the screenings have resulted in people talking more openly about what they have seen in the community and how they feel about domestic violence, without necessarily discussing [their own] personal issues. Lots of women have requested that the film be screened again to different people in the same area, so that more people get the opportunity to see it…women would like more sensitisation around the subject of domestic violence, along with more victim support.
Chiefs in the communities have even been requesting more screenings of the films.
Q: Did audience members in the communities have any comments about what they think needs to be done to end domestic violence?
Audiences commented that the government should empower women with information, but also economically to reduce dependency on men. The men have been saying they would like more sensitization about the effects of domestic violence. The men themselves believe that they should discuss domestic violence within community-wide meetings
Q: What were some of the most positive comments you heard from people about the film/the screenings?
Some positive comments have been that women are now making strong statements about wanting action taken when somebody perpetrates violence. More people are voicing how they believe the government should empower women. Demands have been made on the government to formulate more laws that protect women.
Q: How do you feel about the new anti-gender-based violence legislation in Zambia?
I’m extremely happy that the new law has been passed to help protect women in Zambia. In addition to the passing of the law that we’ve been fighting for, I would like to see it being enforced, so that women are protected. I believe the whole community will be very happy about the passing of this law.
Q: What do you think has to be done to translate this law into reality for women in Zambia?
I believe that the passing of this law will be a great success if the government can work with organizations to implement and enforce the law so that women can be protected.
In addition, to translate this law into reality in Zambia, they need to provide shelter for women. During the time the women are going through court with a case of domestic violence, the government should provide protection for them and their children.
Q: How do you see Hidden Truth’s role in fighting for an end to domestic violence, both in Zambia and around the world?
Hidden Truth has been a powerful tool in challenging attitudes in Zambia. I would like to continue to screen the film in the hope that it will continue to raise awareness and sensitise attitudes surrounding the issue.
Since the film, most women know about their rights and feel more protected now, but I would still like to see women gain more respect in their community. I hope to continue screening the film throughout Zambia, and eventually have the opportunity to screen it in many different countries in order to bring about positive change.
To find out more about the online screening of Hidden Truth, email firstname.lastname@example.org