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Finzan

Directed by Cheick Oumar Sissoko.
With Oumar Namory Keita, Koti, Balla Moussa Keita.
Mali, 1989, digital video, color, 107 min.
Bambara with English subtitles.

Finzan is an impassioned cry of anger at the oppression of African women, set in a Malian village. A young widow resists her brother-in-law when he asserts his traditional right to “inherit” her, while a girl from the city, horrified to learn that the village still practices female genital mutilation, finds herself threatened with the ritual. The women’s assertion of their right to control their own bodies and destinies soon turns to a life-and-death struggle. Perhaps most crucially, Finzan presents clitoridectomy not as a traditional practice but as a form of oppression. Even as the stakes get higher and the tone darkens, Sissoko injects comic relief by drawing his self-satisfied male characters from the conventions of Malian popular theater.

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The 16th Geneviève McMillan Reba Stewart Fellow: Cheick Oumar Sissoko

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