Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Sidet: Forced Exile

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $295.00
  • Date: Copyright 1991. Released 1991.
  • Descriptors: Africa - Economic conditions. Women - Africa.
  • Production Information: Live action. Produced by Salem Mekuria. Directed by Salem Mekuria. Narrated by Salem Mekuria. Color. English, Ethiopian. Subtitled. 60 min.
  • Production Company: Mekuria Productions Channel Four Television Westdeurtscher Rundfund Koln
  • Available from: Women Make Movies 462 Broadway, 5th Floor New York, NY 10013 (212)925-0606
  • Cataloging: 325.210'963"09624 Women refugees - Sudan|| Ethiopia - Economic conditions||Sudan - Economic conditions
  • Print Entry #: 3:1629
  • Reviewer: Vivienne L. Lipsitz

    Ethiopian filmmaker Salem Mekuria has written, produced, directed, and narrated this documentary that presents the stories of three women refugees striving to make a life for themselves and their children in exile.

    "During the past two decades, more than two million refugees have left Ethiopia. Famine, poverty, and political strife, as well as the religious persecution caused by Eritrea's annexation, have already cost countless lives," Mekuria says. The women shown here have fled to neighboring Sudan where they encounter daily struggles that test their resourcefulness and resiliency while coping with life in exile. Fleeing from one poor, politically repressive country to another, these women show extraordinary courage and determination in the face of insurmountable odds.

    One woman sells injera bread and brew to Ethiopian refugees in order to support her family; a development worker from Addis Ababa endures the painful separation from her young sons; and a young single mother receives news of her emigration visa to Australia. "I'm thirsty my sister, I'm thirsty my mother. Who can I tell this to?" sings one of the women in the many refugee settlement camps that continue to grow larger and less able to prevent human suffering, tragedy, and starvation. The video examines some of the programs implemented by such nongovernmental agencies as the Sudan Council of Churches and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Mekuria clearly portrays the shortcomings of relief work in Third World countries.

    The social and economic conditions under which these and other women struggle to provide incomes for their family's survival are harsh and soul-destroying. Most settlements do not have fresh water, and living conditions are abominable. Malnutrition is one of the major causes of death among young children - 150 out of every 1,000 die before the age of five, and 55 of every 1,000 mothers die in childbirth. The women are proud and valiant as we see them attempting to maintain some semblance of stability for their children. Very poignant is the scene where the young mother is told she has a visa to leave for Australia. She looks forward to a better life free from struggle and discrimination. One hopes she finds at least some semblance of normalcy in another country.

    Mekuria has done a remarkable job of highlighting the hardships these women face, and the issues of Third World survival. The video is factual, credible, and does not sentimentalize. Well edited, tightly scripted, and sensitively photographed, the technical quality adds much to the final impact by capturing the haunted look in the eyes of the women who are all united by the common bond of hunger and poverty. With conditions steadily worsening as civil wars, famine, and starvation persist, one wonders what has happened to these women since the making of this production.

    Recommended for high school, college, and adult audiences interested in women's studies and human rights issues. Large public libraries that plan to develop a substantial collection of women's videos should also consider purchase. Another recommended program is About the United Nations: Africa Recovery (Cinema Guild, 1990 - see review in the Summer 1991 issue, entry no. 2:1301).

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