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  The World Before Her trailer
Saturday, March 8, 2014

Two riveting films by women directors

4:00 pm, The World Before Her
followed by post-film discussion.
6:00 pm, Reception for director Mariette Monpierre
7:00 pm, Le Bonheur D'Elza
followed by Q&A with the filmmaker.

Advance Tix $10 each film, $16 for both, online / (859) 957-3456
    Elza Trailer
CWC presents two thought-provoking films that examine universal issues:
  • The struggle to be recognized as independent women in a repressive environment.
  • The contrast of commercial modernism with patriarchal family tradition.
  • The cultural nuances of class distinction, skin color and the role of families.

    Documentary. Director Nisha Pahuja, India/Canada, 2012, rated PG, 90 minutes, in English and Hindi with English subtitles.

    On the runway Nisha Pahuja's crisp, insightful documentary focuses on the contrasts between tradition and modernity and how this plays out on the lives of Indian women.

    Moving between conflicting visions of India and the private lives of principal characters Ruhi Singh and Prachi Trivedi, The World Before Her non-judgmentally creates a lively, provocative portrait of the world's largest democracy at a critical transitional moment.

    In the lobby of a modest Bombay hotel, 20 young women from across India arrive for an intense, month-long beauty boot camp. They are the hand-picked contestants for the Miss India pageant, the ultimate glamour event in a country that has gone mad for beauty contests. Winning the coveted title means stardom, a lucrative career path and, for some girls, freedom from the constraints of a patriarchal society.

    Orange Sashes Controversies and protests have followed the growing popularity of the pageants. Hindu fundamentalists view pageants and their "international" beauty standards as immoral and an abhorent symbol of the Westernization of India.

    Through unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, The World Before Her pulls back the curtain to reveal the intimate stories of young women determined to win the crown, and as well, to reveal the forces that oppose them.

    As the contestants move through beauty boot camp, Pahuja travels to another corner of India to visit a boot camp for young girls run by the Durgha Vahini, the women's wing of the militant fundamentalist movement. Through lectures and physical combat training, the girls learn what it means to be good Hindu women and how to fight against Islam, Christianity and Western influences.

    At the camp, never filmed until this moment, we meet a dynamic DV youth leader, Prachi, who has already fought on the front lines and says she is willing to die for her beliefs. Yet her passionate desire to work for the cause sparks constant household friction: Her father insists she will marry and soon; Prachi must choose between personal freedom and acquiescence.

    While these young women represent opposing cultural viewpoints there are unexpected parallels and they share a common goal: to help shape the future of India as she meets the world before her.

    Nisha Pahuja by Patricia von Ah A seasoned documentary filmmaker who understands the social and political power of stories well told, Nisha Pahuja was born in New Delhi and moved to Canada as a child. With a degree in English literature she started off as a researcher for some of Canada's brightest documentary talents and learned filmmaking under their mentorship.

    Pahuja's Bollywood Bound, about four Indo-Canadians who travel to India to make it big in Bollywood, screened at numerous film festivals and was widely telecast around the world. It was the closing night film at Hot Docs 2001 and was nominated for a Gemini in 2002.

    She co-wrote and directed Diamond Road, a three part series on the global diamond trade for ZDF/Arte, TVO, Discovery Times and History Television. Shot all over the world, it received the 2008 Gemini award for best documentary series.

    The World Before Her, released in 2012, is her third film. It received the coveted position as the opening night documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival and was an official selection at over 70 festivals worldwide, with many awards:

    Best Documentary Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival;
    Best Canadian Documentary Feature at Hot Docs;
    Best Foreign Film at the Traverse City Film Festival;
    Best Canadian Documentary at the Edmonton International Film Festival;
    Best Canadian Documentary from the Vancouver Film Critics Association;
    Special Jury Mention, San Diego Asian Film Festival;
    Special Jury Mention, Guanajuato Film Festival;
    Special Jury Mention, Warsaw Film Festival;
    Special Jury Mention, Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards;
    Canada's Top Ten Films of 2012, TIFF Bell Lightbox

    Not only a success with critics and juries, The World Before Her resonates with audiences as well:

    Top 10, Audience Choice, Tribeca Film Festival
    Top 10, Audience Choice, Hot Docs Film Festival
    Top 10, Audience Choice, Vancouver International Film Fest
    Top 5, Audience Choice, Palo Alto Film Festival

    Drama. Director Mariette Monpierre, France/Guadeloupe, 2011, rated PG, 88 minutes, in French with English subtitles.

    Filmed on location in Paris and the French West Indies, the story explores the emotional journey of a young Parisian woman who returns to her native Guadeloupe in search of the father she has never known. Drawing from personal experience, director Monpierre presents the complexities of class, skin color, and family ties in Guadeloupe. Lushly shot with an intoxicating soundtrack, ELZA acquaints us with the Caribbean's cultural diversity and is the first narrative film by a Guadeloupian female director.

    New York Times Critics' Pick:
    "Like Elza the woman (ripely embodied by Stana Roumillac), Elza the movie is sensual, sun-kissed and emotionally
    Mariette Monpierre secretive. Bathed in the flamingo colors and Caribbean rhythms of its location, this deeply personal debut from the writer and director Mariette Monpierre develops with a lingering attention to sensation and sound.

    "Clinging protectively to her swaying heroine — a Parisian student returning to her birthplace on Guadeloupe to seek the father she barely remembers — Ms. Monpierre translates her own experiences into a tangy island fable. Operating on instinct, Elza infiltrates her father's luxurious home by posing as a baby sitter for his 6-year-old granddaughter, only to discover a family frayed by adultery, mental illness and the devastating bigotry of light skin against dark.

    "Effectively balancing these grimmer themes, Ms. Roumillac gives Elza a youthful, searching energy. Alive to the caress of air and water, her body's instinctive response to random pleasures — like a beach party or a man's approving gaze — is as mesmerizing as the island's dazzling cliffs and butterscotch beaches. Elza's thicket of copper hair may repel her father, but its springy resilience is emblematic of her untamable determination to change his mind.
        © The New York Times, 2012

    Q & A with Mariette Monpierre

    Director Mariette Monpierre will attend a reception before the 7 pm screening and lead the audience discussion immediately after the film.

    Mariette Monpierre Mariette Monpierre was born in Guadeloupe into a movie-loving family where her aunt was the cashier of the only cinema in the harbor city of Pointe-a-Pitre.
    When she was seven, Mariette, her mother and two sisters moved to Paris, France.

    As a teenager she made her first trip to the United States — as an exchange student for her senior year at Aiken High School in Cincinnati.

    Upon her return to Paris, she attended the Sorbonne with concentrations in communications and languages (Spanish and English). Upon graduation, she received a scholarship for graduate studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

    After Smith, she moved to New York and began her career at BBDO New York producing commercials for Pepsi, Visa, Campbell Soup, Bayer, Pizza Hut, Gillette and FedEx. Her first short film Rendez-Vous had a successful run in several major international film festivals.

    ELZA is Monpierre's first feature length film and the first narrative film by a female director shot in Guadeloupe. In addition to selection as a New York Times Critics' Pick, ELZA was chosen to be part of the prestigious Tournées Film Festival in 2014, offered by the French American Cultural Exchange, in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Other awards and nominations include:

    Winner Best Picture, Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival
    Winner Paul Robeson Award, Best Picture of the Diaspora, FESPACO, Africa
    Winner Best First Feature Special Jury Recognition, Pan African Film Festival, Los Angeles.
    Winner BAFTA Festival Choice and Festival Programmers Awards, PAFF, Los Angeles.
    Winner Best Narrative Feature, Roxbury International Film Festival
    Runner up Best International Feature, San Francisco Black Film Festival
    Nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay, American Black Film Festival
    Nominated for Best Picture, Urban World Film Festival
    Nominated for Best Picture, Bronze Lens Festival
    Nominated for Best Diaspora Feature, 2012 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA)
    Nominated for Best Picture, French Afro-Caribbean Arts Awards
    Nominated for Best Foreign Picture and Best Film at The Black Reel Awards

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    For International Women's Day we are delighted to have eight international women attending our films. Hosted locally by the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council, they are visiting under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program and the Institute of International Education.

    The Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council (GCWAC) presents internationally focused activities that include education, exchange of people and ideas, and facilitation of global linkages.

    Learn more about our informative programs, opportunities to meet with and know international visitors and the benefits of membership.

    Contact Michelle Harpenau, Executive Director, or Katie Krafka, Manager of Operations and Education Programs, at (859) 448-8984 and visit GlobalCincinnati.org.

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    The visiting group will gather in the Carnegie Gallery between film sessions to talk about their countries and enterprises. They are interested in meeting people from the Cincinnati area and learning grassroots organizations and NGOs empower the development of women-owned businesses.

    Please introduce yourself and make them feel welcome.

    From Bahrain, Ms. Lara Mandani, Managing Director, Gro Capita BMC, Global Diversified Investments.

    From Denmark, Ms. Qivioq Kreutzmann, Documentary Filmmaker and Journalist.

    From the Republic of Macedonia, Ms. Sanela Shkrijelj, Program Manager, Association for Local Rural Development.

    From Mozambique, Ms. Tatiana, Co-Founder and Managing Director, ELIM Servicos Consulting.

    From Nigeria, Ms. Funlola Tinubu, Executive Director, Bella Rouche Fashions.

    From the Palestinian Territories, Ms. Jumana Salous, Program Manager, Business Womens Forum.

    From Tajikistan, Ms. Firuza Nabieva, Director, Human Resource Division, Imon International.

    From Turkey, Ms. Ecem Baran, COO, Co-Founder, Alictus.