Monday, May 20, 2019
Family of Woman Film Fest to Look at Yemen Crisis and More
“I am Not a Witch” is an absorbing, magical drama,” says Peggy Goldwyn. Courtesy photo.
Friday, February 22, 2019


Peggy Goldwyn worked tirelessly for months to get the Under-Secretary of the United Nations to speak at her 12th annual Family of Woman Film Festival.

Then, with one week to go, Dr. Natalia Kanem had to cancel, delegated by the Secretary General of the United Nations to represent the UN at an international conference.

So, Goldwyn spent Sunday scrambling to line up speakers to take her place at the annual Bonnie Curran humanitarian lecture and a POV (Point of View Breakfast).

  • Mariarosa Cutillo, chief of the Strategic Partnerships Branch of UNFPA, the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, will discuss “Women Still Waiting for Change” at the free Bonni Curran lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Ketchum’s Community Library.
  • Bouwe-Jan Smeding, senior program advisor in the UNFPA humanitarian office, will discuss the humanitarian crisis in Yemen during a POV breakfast for donors contributing $500 or more on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened to Goldwyn. Every year, it seems, she has to do some last-minute juggling—a star of the “The Hunting Ground,” for instance, was called away to the Oscars where she ended up singing on stage with Lady Gaga.

    “Stuff does happen, but I’m happy we could put all this together--over a holiday. And I am very pleased that the world will see a woman like Dr. Kanem in such a leadership position!” said Goldwyn. “Mariarosa Cutillo had been working with her on her talk. Dr. Kanem will do a video opening for us and Mariarosa will take the questions from the audience.

    Goldwyn said she was also excited about Smeding, who was recommended by Kanem.

    “He speaks fluent Arabic, was on the front lines in Yemen for over six years and longs to return,” she added. “It’s always exciting when you can get someone who’s an eyewitness to come to you and tell you what it’s like.”

    Cutillo  served as head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Benetton Group and president and CEO of Benetton’s UNHATE Foundation. She also served as professor in International Law Cases at the University of Milan-Bicocca and senior lecture at the Catholic University of Milan.

    She can share how the private sector can work together with the public sector to solve problems in the world, Goldwyn said.

    Smeding, is a native of the Netherlands and has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in health sciences. Before joining UNFPA, he served as First Secretary of Health at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for three years. He worked in Yemen for six years until a security threat forced him out in August 2013.

    Yemen is a country that gets under your skin, wrote Smeding in an email.

    “The landscape with its small villages on mountaintops is stunning. The old city of Sana’a is unique and of a spectacular beauty. The food is intense and very tasty,” he said. “But, in the end, it is the people that made me love this country. There is no population more hospitable and genuine than the Yemenis. They are very proud and most of the time rather outspoken. You have to invest in them because they do not trust or embrace you immediately. But, when you become part of them, they are loyal and go the extra mile for you. Through time I became a brother.”

    Smeding’s hopes of returning to Yemen have diminished over time.

    “The hunger for power, the religious intolerance and the strong interference of some neighboring countries have made this a civil war that in the end only has losers,” he said. “It hurts to hear that Yemen is now the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. It hurts to know that so many health and education gains of the last decades are lost due to useless fighting. It hurts to grasp the hopelessness of people that worked hard to give a better future to their children.”

    The 12th annual Family of Woman Film Festival kicks off on Monday, Feb. 25, with a free Filmmaker Retrospective of “Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter” at Ketchum’s Community Library. This year’s new films, handpicked by Goldwyn, kick off Wednesday, Feb. 27, with “The Bleeding Edge,” and run through Sunday March 3.

    Each film will be shown at 3 and 7 p.m. at the Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum. And filmmakers and producers will attend both showings for three of them. Tickets are $15 each or $60 for all five films, available at Chapter One Bookstore or Magic Lantern Cinemas.

    So far, the matinees are proving as popular as the evening shows, said Goldwyn.

    In addition, the film festival is presenting a photographic exhibition at The Community Library Monday through Sunday. The exhibit features portraits of young women leaders who were born into communities that traditionally practice female genital mutilation but have fought to end it.

    UNFPA partnered with Dysturb, a group of photojournalists, writers and artists, to produce a guerilla media movement that pastes mural-sized blow-ups in public places bringing women’s issues to the forefront.


  • MONDAY, Feb. 25, 6 p.m.: A free Filmmaker Retrospective of “MRS. GOUNDO’S DAUGHTER” at Ketchum’s Community Library. The film, presented at the Family of Woman Film Festival in 2010, depicts a mother fighting for asylum in the United States because her two-year-old daughter will undergo female genital mutilation if she is forced to return to Mali. Filmmakers Barbara Attie and Barbara Goldwater will present the film. It was the first case where a woman was granted asylum because of gender.
  • TUESDAY, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. Mariarosa Cutillo, chief of the Strategic Partnerships Branch of UNFPA, the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, will discuss “Women Still Waiting for Change” at the free Bonni Curran lecture at Ketchum’s Community Library.
  • WEDNESDAY, FEB. 27; POV Breakfast at Knob Hill Inn. Bouwe-Jan Smelding, senior program advisor in the UNFPA Humanitarian office, will discuss the humanitarian crisis in places like Yemen where 2 million pregnant women and new mothers are threatened by famine. For those who have donated $500 or more to the film festival.
  • WEDNESDAY, Feb. 27, 3 and 7 p.m.: “THE BLEEDING EDGE” will show at the Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum. Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who filmed “The Hunting Ground” and “The Invisible War,” turn their lenses on the $400 billion medical device industry with its lax regulations, corporate cover-ups and profit-driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.

    The film tells the stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed when new technology is rushed to market, noting that a large percentage of these devices target women. Among them, women whose intestines fell out after robotic surgery. Investigative Producer Amy Herdy will discuss the film following both showings.

  • THURSDAY, Feb. 28; POV Breakfast at Knob hill inn featuring Suzanne Bowles, head of global Mobilization Team for Tostan, which has educated women in the countries of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and The Gambia about their rights concerning such things as female genital mutilation and child marriage.

    Joining her will be Naima Dido, who was born in Kenya after her parents fled Ethiopia as political refugees. She is a survivor of female genital mutilation and a forced marriage but is now married to an American whose band once played in Sun Valley. For those who have donated $500 or more to the film festival.

  • THURSDAY, Feb. 28, 3 and 7 p.m.: “THE JUDGE” will show at the Magic Lantern Cinemas. This 81-minute documentary from Palestine provides a rare insight in Shari’a law, an often-misunderstood legal framework for Muslims.

    Director Erika Cohn, who will field questions following both shows, tells the story through the eyes of Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s religious courts. The film also offers an uncensored look at life for women under Shari’a law.

  • FRIDAY, March 1—“I AM NOT A WITCH.” This 93-minute drama from Zambia has been nominated by Great Britain for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It follows a 9-year-old who is exiled to a traveling witch camp after a minor incident in her village. She is the only child among women accused of witchcraft and exploited as field laborers until a government official co-opts her to use her “powers” for his own gain. The film was inspired by actual witch accusations during a severe drought.
  • SATURDAY, March 2, 3 and 7 p.m.: “FACING THE DRAGON.” This 80-minute Afghanistan documentary follows Nilofar, a member of Parliament, and Shakila, a television journalist, as they’re forced to choose between motherhood and ambition as American forces and aid leave Afghanistan. Filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi’s film won the 2018 Human Rights Watch Nester Almendros Award for Courage in Filmmaking. She will field questions following both showings.
  • SUNDAY, March 3—“ON HER SHOULDERS.” This 94-minute documentary follows 23-year-old Nadia Murad, who survived the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaped ISIS to become a beacon of hope for her people. Filmmaker Alexandria Bombach captures her as she testifies before the United Nations, visits refugee camps and conducts soul-bearing media interviews and one-on-one meetings with top government officials. Murad was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize following the completion of the film.

The Family of Woman Film Festival was founded in 2008 by Goldwyn and Friends of UNFPA, which works in more than 150 countries to assure women and girls have access to reproductive health care, education and basic human rights.

Many of the films that have been screened at the festival have been American premieres and have gone on to win major international awards.

The Festival will present “The Bleeding Edge” and “The Judge” on Tuesday and Wednesday at Boise State University, which is a platinum sponsor of the 2019 Family of Woman Film Festival.

And the women from Tostan will talk to Wood River High School students Thursday in an event arranged by the school’s Amnesty International chapter.

For more information, visit


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