Sisters In Law - Interview with film-maker Kim Longinotto - Aviva - Berlin Online Magazin und Informationsportal für Frauen Interviews im April 2024 - Beitrag vom 25.07.2007

Sisters In Law - Interview with film-maker Kim Longinotto
Stefanie Denkert

AVIVA-Berlin talked to British film-maker Kim Longinotto about her award-winning documentary "Sisters in Law" on female solidarity and the struggle for justice in Cameroon.

AVIVA-Berlin: "Sisters in Law" is a wonderful documentary film. You have won several awards, e.g. the "Prix Art et Essai" at the Cannes Film Festival, the "Audience Award" in Amsterdam and the award for "Besonderen Dokumentarfilm" at the Dokfest 2006 München. Did you expect to receive such a positive feedback and what does that mean to you?
Kim Longinotto: The positive feedback has been wonderful! It´s very encouraging to know that people have enjoyed the film. The reaction has also been about the admiration and love that the audience feel for the people in the film. They admire Sonita’s courage to stand up to her rapist , Amina’s bravery in taking her husband to court, intrepid Manka for running away from her violent aunt and, above all, Vera and Beatrice who fight injustice with such determination and great good humour.

AVIVA-Berlin: How did you get the idea to make "Sisters in Law"? And how did you get to know Beatrice Ntuba and Vera Ngassa? Why did you choose to film in Kumba?
Kim Longinotto: I was looking to make another film in Africa. I had just made one in Kenya and I had been so inspired by the women and girls I filmed there who were struggling to change their lives. I met Florence Ayisi and we went on a research trip together to Cameroon. Kumba is the town where she grew up and she introduced me to Beatrice who is a judge there.

AVIVA-Berlin: Kumba is a small village in Cameroon with a Muslim community. What was it like to film there? Did the people in Kumba welcome you and your crew - or were you seen as troublemakers?
Kim Longinotto: Kumba is a mixed town, with a Muslim community but also many Christians living there (Sonita and Manka are from Christian backgrounds & both Vera and Beatrice go to church) Vera and Beatrice were very welcoming about a film being made as they feel passionate about justice for the "the under-dog” and could see the value of the film. The other people we feels were happy to have us there filming as witnesses. Amina particularly, felt supported by our presence - she would always ask "are you coming tomorrow?” to make sure we’d be there by her side.

AVIVA-Berlin: How much time did the making of "Sisters in Law" take?
Kim Longinotto: 3 months filming & 10 weeks editing.

AVIVA-Berlin: Women´s issues seem to run through all your films, is that a conscious decision? Do you see yourself as a feminist filmmaker?
Kim Longinotto: I’m definitely in favour of equal rights for women.

AVIVA-Berlin: "Sisters in Law" portrays different kinds of women and men. Was it important to you not to present women solely as victims and men as wrongdoers?
Kim Longinotto: It was good that it happened that way, but we were lucky to have a lovely man in the film. Documentary feels so exhilarating and scary as it is so down to chance - you set out on a journey without knowing where it will take you.

AVIVA-Berlin: Why do you choose to make documentaries and not feature films?
Kim Longinotto: I think that real life is often more surprising and extraordinary than anything we can imagine. I could never have dreamed up Vera and Beatrice!

AVIVA-Berlin: Have you talked to Beatrice Ntuba and Vera Ngassa lately? Do you know, if anything has changed in the community of Kumba since you have finished "Sisters in Law"? Have more women had the courage to sue their husbands?
Kim Longinotto: I talk to them all the time by email. Amina has definitely been a real role model for other women but change is very patchy and slow. Education for girls seems to be the key.

AVIVA-Berlin: We heard that you are currently researching a new film in Africa. Could you possibly tell us something about it?
Kim Longinotto: I’ve just been on a research trip and am intending to make a new film in Africa in the autumn.

AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you and good luck and success for the future!
Kim Longinotto: Thanks a lot ! I’ll need all the luck I can get.

Kim Longinotto (born 1952 in London) has worked as a documentary film-maker since 1979. Kim Longinotto is a director, camerawoman, script writer and producer. In 1986 Longinotto and Clair Hunt founded a production company called Vixen Films. Longinotto`s films include, e.g. The Day I Will Never Forget (2002), Runaway (2001/I), Gaea Girls (2000), Divorce Iranian Style (1998), Dream Girls (1994).

Awards: u.a.
Cannes Film Festival - Prix Art et Essai
Amsterdam - Winner Audience Award
Dokfest 2006 München – Award for the "Besonderen Dokumentarfilm"

Sisters in Law
GB & Kamerun, 2005,
104 Min., (OmU)
Directed by Florence Ayisi & Kim Longinotto
Ventura Film Berlin
Start: in Berlin: 26.07.07 – nationwide: 13.09.07

Read the review of "Sisters in Law" on AVIVA:

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Beitrag vom 25.07.2007