The ‘Real World’ scheme was set up in 2008 by Pathways and Screen South with funding from UK Aid from the Department for International Development (DFID), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Lottery. Real World links talented young documentary filmmakers with academics from the Pathways consortium to collaborate on a series of shorts broadly exploring concepts around women’s empowerment.
The first two films which were produced under this scheme were A Vida Politica directed by Kat Mansoor and Thorns and Silk directed by Paulina Tervo. The films were officially launched at the Birds Eye View Film Festival in London on 9 March 2009. Since then they have been shown at various film festivals including:
- Luna Fest (A Vida Politica won a film award)
- South by South West (A Vida Politica)
- Henley International Film Festival (Thorns and Silk shortlisted for best short film)
- Guardian Hay Festival (Thorns and Silk)
The films look at the everyday lives of ordinary women doing extraordinary things in very different contexts. Both sets of films raise questions about what women’s empowerment means. A Vida Politica looks at activism Brazilian-style through the eyes of four women engaged in struggles for abortion rights, political representation, sex worker rights and racial equality. These are highly public struggles, and the films illustrate the creativity of activism on women’s empowerment.
The Palestinian films show four women who are doing jobs that many regard as a male preserve negotiating empowerment in their everyday lives in a context dominated by the experience of the Israeli occupation. In all eight of the films we see the repertoire of possibilities that women have in their everyday lives for negotiating changes in institutions and intimate relationships, to create the possibility for women to enjoy greater rights, recognition and equality.
The films are now available to buy on DVD from the IDS Bookshop. The aim of the DVD is to make the films as widely available as possible. A booklet providing more background to the women's stories accompanies it, as well as longer indepth versions of the films from Brazil and and reactions to the films from Palestine. The films have already been used in a number of different educational contexts, and we want them to be used to promote debate around women’s empowerment, and encourage viewers to discuss and think more deeply about the various issues raised in the films.
Real World 2009/10
Director Lucy Bennett, who was chosen for the next round of the Real World scheme in 2009 is working on a film in Egypt. The film will be based on Mulki Al-Sharmani's research into the personal status law, divorce and the reform of the family law.