DER Documentary

Duka's Dilemma

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by Jean Lydall and Kaira Strecker
in Hamar, with English subtitles
color, 87 min, 2001

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Duka is a married woman and mother of five young children, living in Hamar, Southern Ethiopia. Ever since her husband married a beautiful, young, second wife, Duka has been in a state of emotional turmoil. Among the Hamar, who live with herds and cultivate small fields of sorghum in their remote, bush-covered country, men are allowed to marry more than one wife, but only a few men ever do so.

Duka wonders why her husband married again; did he find her too old, or was he turned off because of her chronic malaria? Also, she doesn't know what to make of the new wife who is silent and never expresses her feelings except in rage? And on top of this, her mother-in-law keeps making trouble and is angry with her son for marrying a second wife behind her back.

Personal and intimate, the film follows the drama of this family in crisis, the high points of which are the birth of the new wife's child, and nine months later, a heated dispute between the mother-in-law and her son, which leads to the building of a new house.

Duka, her husband, her mother-in-law and the second wife voice their different points of view as events proceed and the crisis finally gets resolved. The language of the film is Hamar, and is translated by subtitles. There is no need for extra commentary from the filmmakers, whose presence and close relationship to the people are always evident.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Premiere, Ethnographic Film Week, Goethe Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2002
Cinéma du Réel, Paris, 2002
Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival, Germany, 2002
Beeld voor Beeld Film Festival, Amsterdam, 2002
Flahertiana - International Documentary Film Festival Perm, Russia, 2002
TV broadcast, WDR, Germany, 7.31.2002
Internationales Dokumentarfilm Festival Salekhard, Russia, 2002
23rd Nordic Anthropological Film Association Conference & Festival, Finland, 2002
Academia Film Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2002
Neugart Film Festival, Germany, 2002
Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York, 2002
Award of Excellence, Society for Visual Anthropology Screening Program, New Orleans, 2002
National Centre for Cinematography Award, Astra Film Festival, Sibiu, Romania, 2002
Northeastern Anthropological Association Film Festival, Burlington, Vermont, 2003
13th Festival Cinema Africano, Milan, Italy, 2003
The Royal Anthropological Institue Film Prize, 8th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London, 2003
Parnu Documentary Film Festival, Estonia, 2003
DocSide Touring Film Festival, 2003
3 Continents International Documentary Film Festival, South Africa, 2003
Documentary & Ethnographic Film Festival of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2003
International Black Women’s Film Festival, San Francisco, 2004
South Film Festival, Israel, 2004
Zanzibar International Film Festival, Tanzania, 2004

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts