UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Malta, is hosting a free screening of the documentary We Are Not Princesses as part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, an international campaign to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

The annual campaign kicked off on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends tomorrow, which is Human Rights Day.

The documentary will be followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer session. The panel will consist of governmental and non-governmental  stakeholders who work with refugees and asylum seekers, as well as survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. There will be a particular focus on refugee women and empowerment.

We Are Not Princesses is directed and filmed by Bridgette Auger and Itab Azzam, and produced by Open Art Productions.

With intimate footage and stunning animation, We Are Not Princesses follows how this group of women find laughter and purpose behind the scenes, as they come together to perform the ancient Greek play Antigone.

In 2014, the Open Art Foundation put together a theatre workshop with Syrian women refugees in Beirut to create a space for community and to provide tools to help the women process their trauma as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria.

This film focuses on the strong, resilient and often hilarious Syrian women who are moving forward in spite of the ever-worsening situation back home.

Whether they are gossiping at a seaside café or engaging in long-forgotten pleasures at a night-time fairground, these poignant scenes are where intense discussion and transformation take place.

Smoking cigarettes and wearing makeup become acts of rebellion against societal and patriarchal authority. And never far from the surface are the horrifying backstories which brought the women to Beirut.

Mona tells of the death of her child; Fedwa hyperventilates as she attempts to rehearse the story of her son whom she was unable to bury; and Heba remembers her starving brother’s last wish for noodles and yoghurt.

These stories provide context for the Syrian war and also establish the women’s point of access into the story of Antigone, a story through which the women begin to process their personal and national traumas.

The film focuses not on what Syria has lost but on what it still has – strong women picking up the pieces of their broken society and moving forward.

We Are Not Princesses is being screened at Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta, on Wednesday at 7pm. Entrance is free but booking is required. Tickets may be obtained at https://ticketenginex.kreattivita.org.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us