The cases come before Vera Ngassa as if by conveyor belt: a little girl raped by her next-door neighbor, a woman beaten by her husband on the suspicion of adultery, a young child—six or eight years old (no one seems to know)—abused by her aunt for breaking the woman’s bucket and fetching water without permission. The place is a law office and courthouse in the small city of Kumba Town in Camaroon where the state prosecutor and court president, with the help of aides and officers, look to give a voice to and amend ingrained social injustices. Hope springs eternal in the documentary’s greatest scene: Manka, the little girl tortured by her aunt, smiles for the first time in the film as Ngassa teases her about the new clothes she’s been given. It is a vision of healing and possibility that validates a mission with the greatest of intentions: to assert that men and women are equal under the law. For a Muslim culture in Africa, Ngassa and Beatrice Ntuba’s work is perhaps without precedent—by the end, the audience hopes that it catches on and becomes a norm. The film deserves a less corny title, but far more unfortunate is how little the filmmakers spend with Ngassa and Ntuba outside the court, seeking out and collecting the building blocks of their political resistance. A film, then, with inadequate research but one that makes a ferocious case capped with a hopeful closing statement.
- Women Make Movies
- 104 min
- Florence Ayisi, Kim Longinotto
- Vera Ngassa, Beatrice Ntuba
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