May 25, 2018
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Kim Longinotto

May 7—23, 2009

The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters

New York —The Museum of Modern Art presents Kim Longinotto, a two-week exhibition showcasing 14 documentaries made over a 30-year span by one of today’s preeminent documentary filmmakers, from May 7 through 23, 2009.  Kim Longinotto’s cinéma vérité portraits seek out, observe, and follow the untold stories of women’s lives from around the globe.  Her keen directorial eye produces compelling stories grounded by the sensitive and compassionate observance of people in a wide range of challenging situations, from divorce courts to homes for runaways.  The series opens with the New York premiere of Rough Aunties (2009), Longinotto’s most recent film, which follows an inspiring group of “rough aunties” who protect and care for the neglected children of Durban, South Africa, through their work with the Bobbi Bear Child Welfare Organization.  The film was awarded the World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and will have its national broadcast premiere on HBO in 2010.

     While studying camera and directing at England's National Film School in 1978, Longinotto made her first film, Pride of Place, a revealing look at the strict treatment of young women in a girls’ boarding school, which she had formerly attended, followed by Theatre Girls in 1979, a film shot in the calamitous atmosphere of a 24-hour admitting hostel for homeless women. These two films launched her career as a documentarian. Since then she has made numerous films for both television and theatrical release that both entertain audiences and illuminate the issues and circumstances that shape women’s lives and consequently those around them.

     Highlights of the retrospective include Sisters in Law (2005, co-directed with Florence Ayisi), about two bold and progressive-minded women in Kumba, Cameroon, who help victims of abuse speak up and out against their oppressors, dispensing wisdom and justice equally (2008 Peabody Award, Cannes Prix art et Essai Award); The BAFTA Award-winning Divorce Iranian Style (1998, co-directed with Ziba Mir-Hosseini), which  over the course of several weeks follows the complex social and legal customs surrounding Iranian divorce from the inside perspective of a Tehran divorce court; and Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go (2007), a look inside Oxfordshire’s Mulberry Bush School where emotionally traumatized children are treated with restraint and sensitivity (winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2008 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, with its national broadcast premiere taking place on July 28 on PBS's P.O.V.).

     Earlier renowned works include Dream Girls (1993), about a popular “women only” musical theater company in Japan where young women are sent to study both male and female roles (winner of Best Documentary at Films de Femmes, Creteil); and Shinjuku Boys (1995), which follows three Japanese ‘onnabes’—gender-bending women who live as men and have girlfriends (named Outstanding Documentary at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and winner of the Gold Prize at the Houston Film Festival).

     Director Longinotto will participate in post-screening discussions with the audience for the screenings of Rough Aunties (May 7), Divorce Iranian Style (May 8), Hold Me Tight (May 9), and Sisters in Law (May 10).

     Kim Longinotto is organized by Sally Berger, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, in collaboration with Debra Zimmerman, Executive Director, Women Make Movies.


Women Make Movies

From cutting-edge documentaries that give depth to today’s headlines to smart, stunning films that push artistic and intellectual boundaries in all genres, Women Make Movies (WMM), a nonprofit organization based in New York, is the world’s leading distributor of independent films by and about women and the distributor of Kim Longinotto’s films featured in this exhibition. For the third year in a row, films from WMM took home top prizes at Sundance, including Longinotto's newest, Rough Aunties, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentary. For more information about Women Make Movies, please visit



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