A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers premieres at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival
A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, a documentary by Academy Award and Emmy Award winning filmmakers Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Geeta Gandbhir, is set to premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival on 11thSeptember 2015.
“A Journey of A Thousand Miles” is a bold look at the women who make up this global force, going beyond the statistics and news stories to look at who these officers are on an individual level. Through the organic unfolding of their experiences during this year, the documentary defies the way we look at women from developing nations and asks the difficult questions that must be considered to better the global effort to build peace.
The documentary follows a unit of one hundred and forty women who, between June 2013 and July 2014, travel far from their families, friends and all that is familiar at home in Bangladesh to join the United Nations Stabilizing Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). They form one of the world’s first all-female, predominantly Muslim peacekeeping units; shattering every stereotype the world holds about the capabilities of Muslim women. The film dramatically shows how this journey forever alters the lives of three courageous women and their families. Though faced with struggles abroad, the women are also given an authority and opportunity during deployment not yet possible in their own country.
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy spoke about the film stating,
“For the last 3 years, we have been following a group of incredible and awe-inspiring women who continue to challenge stereotypes: what it means to be a woman, a Muslim and a citizen of a third world country. Today we are excited to share their journey with the rest of the world.”
“We wanted to make a film that defied the stereotypes we encounter about Muslim women in the media, and explore the importance of women’s work. The film was a labor of love, and ultimately, we hope these brave women’s stories will change perceptions and help push the conversation forward.” said Geeta Gandbhir.
The filmmaker duo, who originally hail from Pakistan and India were granted unprecedented access to the 140 paramilitary police officers who form the world’s first all- Muslim women Peacekeeping unit from Bangladesh. For two years, their cameras followed these women from small towns and villages in Bangladesh to disaster stricken Haiti as they embarked on their Peacekeeping mission for the UN. Leaving their families and homes behind, these remarkable police officers shatter stereotypes the world holds about the capabilities of Muslim women. They battle complexities of culture, family responsibilities and religious beliefs with a rare level of grace, perseverance and purpose.
As the world ponders the future of Peacekeeping, this film adds to the discourse by asking the following questions: are women the key to lasting conflict resolution and peace building — and at what cost or benefit to themselves, their families, those they impact on the ground, and the traditional structure of the communities they come from?