DER Documentary

Bintou In Paris


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by Julia Pimsleur and Kirsten Johnson
Featuring the music of Angelique Kidjo
color, 15 min, 1996




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A "fictional documentary" concerning the volatile topic of female excision, Bintou In Paris tells the story of a young Malinese mother faced with the critical decision of whether or not to excise her baby daughter. Conflicted between relenting to tradition and a desire to do the best for her child, Bintou faces intense pressure from her husband and her mother-in-law when she refuses to get the excision done. Female excision has long been a practice in various African cultures and has taken a variety of forms. There are currently an estimated 100 million women who have undergone this mutilation. European countries and more recently the United States have experienced a rise in immigration from formerly inaccessible areas of Africa; to Western culture, the term "female genital mutilation" or "excision" and its practice by newly transplanted Africans have become contested ground. Anthropologists, many of whom have long been aware of the practice, are finding themselves at the center of the debate.

Bintou In Paris is an excellent introduction to the theme as it helps viewers understand the complex mix of the pressure to adhere to tradition while dealing with the roles and demands of a new culture with new views, laws and protections. The desires of a younger generation are now infused with a sense of female emancipation. While the film is acted, the inter-familial relationships ring true, as do the circumstances the film realistically constructs. The film enhances our understanding of a volatile topic without resorting to horrific images or descriptions.


Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
May 6, 1996: 3rd Place award for Creative Excellence in the Medicine, Health, Current Issues Category from the 1996 US
International Film & Video Festival, Chicago
Supported by The Commission for the Abolition of Sexual Mutilation of Women
African Film Festival Selection "Images d'Ailleurs" Paris, France 1996

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