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Shame

New York Premiere

USA, Pakistan | 96 MINUTES | Urdu, Sariki |

SHAME

Documentary

Shocking and heart-warming by turn, Shame is the inspiring story of a real-life heroine of our time. A powerfully written and directed essay in courage, the documentary tensely relates the story of Mukhtaran Mai, a Pakistani village woman who, in 2002, was publicly gang raped to atone for a crime her brother allegedly committed. In his first feature-length doc, New York-based filmmaker Mohammed Naqvi describes how this uneducated woman raised an outcry that became an international cause with wide-reaching consequences. Events are set in motion when a powerful village tribe learns that Mukhtaran's 12-year-old brother is having an affair with one of its girls. He is accused of rape, beaten up and raped himself, but it is not enough. His sister's honor is demanded as reparation. The 30-year-old Mukhtaran is handed over by her father and uncle to the tribe, who abuse her as the whole village watches. Instead of committing suicide, as she is expected to do, the young veiled woman insists on reporting her rape to the police many miles away. Eventually her tormentors are arrested and put on trial. When the New York Times and human rights groups pick up the story, she is vaulted to international fame. Defying all expectation, Mukhtaran opens the first schools for children in her village and enrolls herself. But when she is invited to conferences abroad, Pakistani officialdom gets cold feet and begins reigning her in. Shooting over a five-year period, Naqvi skillfully incorporates unexpected developments that add weight to the tale. Copresented with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.