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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Film: Mrs. Goundo's Daughter

June 11, 2009 Premiering in June 2009 Silverdocs/AFI Discovery Channel Film Festival, Washington, D.C. Screenings: Wednesday, June 17 at 12:30 pm; Saturday, June 20 at 12:30 pm Human Rights Watch Int'l Film Festival, Lincoln Center, NYC Screenings: Sunday, June 21 at 7 pm; Monday, June 22 at 4 pm; Tuesday, June 23 at 9 pm Another heart-wrenching testament to the integrity and solidarity of women in the face of staggering adversity, Mrs. Goundo's Daughter follows the efforts of a West African woman living in Philadelphia to secure the asylum she thinks will save her two-year-old daughter from the senseless barbarism of genital mutilation. As evinced by their previous film Rosita (HRW '06), humanist filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwaterdemonstrate a nerve-shredding talent for cinematic juxtaposition—throughout, they intercut Goundo's legal nightmare with the lead-up to a mass female circumcision inMali—that avoids feeling trivial. —Ed Gonzalez, Village Voice, June 2009 MRS. GOUNDO'S DAUGHTER is a co-production of Attie & Goldwater Productions, Inc. and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). MRS. GOUNDO'S DAUGHTER is the story of a young mother's quest to keep her baby daughter healthy and whole. It is also the story of the African tradition of female genital cutting, which dates back thousands of years—and how it affects people's lives in just two of the many places where the practice is being debated today. Mrs. Goundo's husband fled drought and ethnic conflict in his native Mali, West Africa sixteen years ago. Mrs. Goundo came to the United States in 1999. Together, they are raising three young children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After the hearing. To stay in the U.S., Mrs. Goundo must persuade an immigration judge that her two-year old daughter Djenebou, born in the U.S., will almost certainly suffer clitoral excision if Goundo is deported. In Mali, where up to 85% of women and girls are excised, Mrs. Goundo and her husband are convinced they would be powerless to protect their daughter from her well-intentioned grandparents, who believe all girls should be excised. MRS. GOUNDO'S DAUGHTER bridges Mrs. Goundo's two worlds. In a Malian village, we see 62 girls, six months to ten years old, preparing to be excised just as their mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers were before them. The girls are warned they must be brave and not cry, although, as one mother tells us: "The pain is very deep. There is nothing we can do to lessen it." We hear Malian activists fighting to end the practice, and traditionalists who defend it. We see its deep roots in the largely Islamic culture. Mrs. Goundo with friends at the salon. 4,500 miles away in Philadelphia, we hear Mrs. Goundo's friends from West Africa tell how, even though they themselves were excised, they are determined to save their daughters from the pain and the sometimes horrific health consequences of ritual cutting. Mrs. Goundo is the first of her community to seek asylum on these grounds, and in MRS. GOUNDO'S DAUGHTER we join her friends' anxious vigil as they await the outcome of her asylum hearing. Funding provided by the following generous supporters: Corporation for Public Broadcasting Sundance Documentary Fund Morton K. & Jane Blaustein Foundation The Philadelphia Foundation Women's Way Community Women's Fund Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Pew Fellowships in the Arts PIFVA See also: AFI Discovery Channel Silverdocs 2009: Mrs. Goundo's Daughter