05 August 2010

UNJUST, the documentary

There was silence at the end of the documentary. Silence. Sometime later, Basil noted that it was like “a very long poem”. Indeed. It reminded me of the following verse by Walt Whitman:

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

UNJUST was a beautiful production; from the stories, to the music, to the cinematography, to the heart behind it. This beauty does not take away the desolation, the crimes or the state indifference. Despite all this, it is beautiful. Perhaps this is due to the three women it documents, who remain strong and committed to their struggles against heavy odds. Perhaps it is due to the women involved in producing the documentary; first timers, but just as committed and compassionate. Perhaps it is due to the many people who walked together with the women in their struggle.

For me, the film mirrored a personal journey. It reminded me of all the people involved in these cases, all the discussions, meetings, protests we held, all the letters, petitions and reports we wrote, all the coffee we drank, prayers we shared. Through these cases I learnt of solidarity, witness intimidation, extrajudicial killings, disappearance, witness protection, court observation. Meeting these women taught me how energy and emotion can be channeled into a fight for justice, how despair and anger can be turned to determination and hope.

Like any story told after an event, the film captured so much more than I could see while walking that path. For that, I am ever thankful.

Moments I cannot forget:

Angkhana: “My husband fought for the rights of others. If his family cannot fight for him, I think that would be very sad.”

Padma: “I would ask my husband’s killers, why didn’t you kill us all?”

Thank you, Josefina.

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