Fundamental. Gender Justice. No Exceptions.
Feminist movements have the power to disrupt the status quo and radically alter the course of history for women and girls—and ALL historically marginalized people and communities globally. But what does it really look like to be a feminist leader today?
FUNDAMENTAL is a character-driven documentary film series presented in five short episodes, directed by two-time Academy Award-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Each episode shines a light on grassroots activists and community organizers who are fighting for gender justice and disrupting the status quo to alter the course of history.
At a time of unprecedented political uprisings around the globe, from Haiti to Chile to Hong Kong to Sudan to Lebanon and beyond, Fundamental invites global audiences to engage directly with grassroots movements and community leaders who are standing up for our fundamental human rights. The series profiles a distinct set of remarkable grassroots leaders working on issues from ending child marriage in Pakistan to pursuing LGBTQI liberation in Georgia. These incredible leaders are at the front lines of fighting for gender justice, and mobilizing to write new futures for themselves, their societies, and the world.
Episode 2 will screen as part of the Culture and Activism Panel.
Episode 1, 3-5 will screen as a part of the Activism Booth
Episode 1: Rights Not Roses
Ending child, early, and forced marriage in Pakistan: How are community leaders addressing the root causes of the issue?
One day,13-year-old Zarmina came home from school and received surprising news: her wedding to a 28-year-old man was scheduled for the very next day. Once she was married, Zarmina was expected to do all the household chores. Her husband beat her violently, and the slightest mistake meant being starved for a week or more.
In Fundamental Episode 1, “Rights Not Roses,” we hear directly from Zarmina, her family, and a network of community activists fighting to end the scourge of early and forced marriage in Pakistan, where 21% of girls are married before the age of 18. These include Rukhshanda Naz, a human rights attorney and long-time women’s rights leader who is fighting in Pakistan’s courts to extricate girls like Zarmina from early and forced marriages, and whose passionate advocate for ending child marriage is informed by her family’s own experiences with the issue.
Episode 2: Defenders of Justice
Fighting racism and patriarchy in Brazil: Can women’s movements in Brazil fight against nationalism, racism and patriarchy to save women’s health and lives?
Brazilian law permits abortion only in cases of rape and danger to the women’s life. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are severely limited, and there are deep racial prejudices against Black Brazilians. Civil society is also under threat, and activists in Brazil remain on high alert after the murder of prominent Black Brazilian activist Marielle Franco in March 2018.
In Fundamental Episode 2, “Defenders of Justice,” we meet Lucia Xavier, who is part of a movement of powerful women activists who are reframing reproductive rights as an issue of women’s rights and racial justice, as she and others work to address security threats against activists fighting for reproductive rights. We also meet Daniele Duarte, an Afro-Brazilian lesbian activist who participates in protests and marches against the rise of the extremist president Jair Bolsonaro. Lucia, Daniele, and others are part of a vibrant and intersectional feminist movement in Brazil, mobilizing what some are calling a “Feminist Spring” in Brazil as the Supreme Court considers decriminalizing abortion.
Episode 3: Living Out Loud
LGBTQI rights in Georgia: How can a vulnerable but resilient movement overcome the powerful joint forces of church and state?
While officially a secular nation, church and state are far from separate in Georgia, where homophobia is common. The Christian Orthodox Church holds great power including among government officials, resulting in homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination throughout the country, hate crimes and murders, and state-ordered threats against LGBTQI individuals and activists.
At the same time, the feminist and LGBTQI movements in Georgia are growing stronger and more organized. In Fundamental Episode 3: “Living Out Loud,” we meet Eka Aghdgomelashvili, a Georgian feminist activist and trailblazer who led successful efforts to pass anti-discrimination laws in this former Soviet state. We also meet a young artist Eka Tkemeladze and fellow community activists who are mobilizing in the tense days leading up to the IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) rally.
Episode 4: Girls at the Heart of It
Comprehensive sexuality education in Kenya: How are young women leaders spreading knowledge and activism to take control of their own futures?
Nearly all studies show that comprehensive sexuality education decreases the risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs, and sexual violence. Yet across Kenya and in many places around the world, community resistance and biases, political opposition, and lack of funding prevent young people from accessing their right to sexual and reproductive health information. The result is that (according to the most recent available data) more than 390,000 10-19 year olds become pregnant in Kenya annually; almost 29,000 of them were under 14.
Today, young Kenyan women and girls are taking their futures into their own hands. In Fundamental Episode 4, “Girls at the Heart of It,” audiences follow two young women from Akili Dada, a women-led grassroots organization focused on empowering girls and young women ages 13 -22 to become leaders in Kenya, including through sexual and reproductive health advocacy. Via high school and university level programs, teenage girls and young women at Akili Dada are building skills to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health and rights in their communities, and challenging norms and perceptions to help their peers better take control of their bodies and their futures. Alongside their stories, audiences meet Purity Kagwiria, Akili Dada’s Executive Director, whose own personal experiences have led her to a lifelong commitment to support women and girls in her community.
Episode 5: Rising Power
Building an intersectional justice movement in the United States: How does a grassroots movement led by people of color confront oppression and patriarchy day by day?
In an increasingly polarized and racially segregated United States, white supremacy and patriarchy are thriving. Conservative and liberal leaders alike refuse to address the outsized impact of institutional and systemic violence on people of color, women, and queer and gender nonconforming people.
Fundamental Episode 5, “Rising Power,” brings us to Madison, Wisconsin, where we meet community organizers Kabzuag and M, co-directors of Freedom Inc. What began as a sexual assault support group has grown into an organization at the forefront of battles over education reform, police brutality, land access and ownership, women’s safety and security, and mental health. Driven by their own intimate experiences of violence and poverty, M and Kabzuag have carved out a space for multiracial, multilingual, and multigenerational community members to disrupt a broken system, equipping Black, Hmong, and Khmer, women, queer, and gender nonconforming folks with the tools they need to confront oppression in all facets of their lives and ultimately build a roadmap toward shared liberation.
The Creative Team
The series is directed by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, two-time Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker. Her most recent film, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, won the 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject and was screened for the Pakistan’s Prime Minister and government officials to raise the need for an anti-honor killing bill, which was subsequently passed in Parliament. In the past 15 years, she has made over a dozen award-winning films in more than 10 countries around the world, working with refugees and marginalized communities from Saudi Arabia to Syria and from Timor Leste to the Philippines. She runs SOC Films, a production house in Karachi, Pakistan, which specializes in investigative and socially motivated content, and an animation studio.
Presented by YouTube Originals, the series is a production of SOC Films and Global Fund for Women in association with Fork Films and Secret Sauce Media. Executive Producers include Julie Parker Benello (Secret Sauce Media), Catherine King (Global Fund for Women), Abigail E. Disney (Fork Films), Maria Nunez, Susan Sherrerd, Patty Quillin, and Lynda Weinman. The project has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Levi Strauss Foundation.