From Patty Hearst to Pakistani Marriages: Highlights of the Female Eye Film Festival

Sandra Bertrand


Ending Early Child and Forced Marriage in Pakistan

Director: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy


This YouTube original documentary is a harrowing look at the exploitation of young women who are forcibly pushed into marriage by their families, many as young as 13.  Out of indifference or ignorance or economic necessity, their elders sell or surrender their female offspring to the demands of the greater society.  Rukhshanda Naz has spent her life working on behalf of women and the prevailing view in society that women’s place is “in the home or the grave.”  One heartrending scene shows the confrontation of a daughter, sold to marriage at 13, who returns home to a mother who felt helpless to prevent her daughter’s fate.

A worthy investigation into the continuing efforts to face the Council on Islamic Ideology and the society at large, that would deem a girl as young as 9 years of age to be of a body and mind healthy enough for marriage. 




Director: Deborah Kampmeier


Tape is an uncompromising look at the victimization of one aspiring actress, played by Isabelle Fuhrman, who is methodically and relentlessly seduced by her manager.  Tarek Beshara plays the scheming predator, taping her “audition” with all the grisly charm of a reality TV conman, convincing his innocent charge to “own your power.”  But the real scene-stealer in this timeworn tale is Annarosa Mudd, an ex-victim who manages to exact her revenge with all the determination of a Lady Macbeth.

Based on a true story, this is a timely, no-holds-barred re-enactment of exploitation in the entertainment industry.  Director Kampmeier refuses to sugarcoat her message, and it’s a lesson for all the young women who arrive in New York, willingly or unwillingly, to  face the slaughter of their innocence.


American Woman

Director: Semi Challis


This entry presents us with yet another spin on the Patty Hearst story and her kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army -- a ragtag antiwar ensemble from the 1970s. Based on the novel by Susan Choi, this version avoids the typical rehashing of the rich, young protagonist’s tale by focusing on a young female clan member, Iris, who takes pity on her captive and aids in her escape.   

Deft performances by Hong Chau as Iris and Sarah Gadon as the fictional Patty Hearst   raise the bar for a new and younger audience. A brief appearance by Ellen Burstyn as Iris’s cantankerous but compassionate ex-employer is an added treat.




Director: Deborah Kampmeier


Jessie is a troubled teenager, trying to sort out where she fits in her small town—comforting both an alcoholic mother, an overachieving sister, and most problematic of all, looking for love in all the wrong places.  When she hopelessly pursues a young man who provides her with drugs and then has sex with her, she not only can’t recall the act but deludes herself into believing she is carrying God’s child.  Her tightknit community is hardly receptive to such claims of a second coming, and she quickly becomes a pariah, a blasphemous sinner finding brief solace with another crazed woman who searches for her own lost baby.

What makes this somewhat overwrought, ambitious screenplay work is its lead.  Elisabeth Moss is Jessie.  It’s easy to see how the seeds of great performances to come from this actress are already present in this nascent portrayal.  Every wide-eyed glance, every desperate gesture is present in this early award-winning effort.  Director-writer Kampmeier confessed that she delivered this first feature on a $65,000 budget, garnering two Independent Spirit Awards for her efforts.  This is a director who is not afraid to aim high at considerable risk and it’s paid off in this film.


Author Bio:

Sandra Bertrand is Highbrow Magazine’s chief art critic.


For Highbrow Magazine


not popular
Images courtesy of Female Eye Film Festival
Bottom Slider: 
Out Slider

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Replaces [VIDEO::] tags with embedded videos.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><div><img><h2><h3><h4><span>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.