March 27, 2007 Award-Winning Documentary "Sisters in Law" To Be Screened on April 4

Legal Film Series Commemorates Law Library’s 175th Anniversary

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022
Public Contact: Alisa Carrel (202) 707-9838

Manka is covered in scars and has run away from an abusive aunt. Amina is seeking a divorce to put an end to brutal beatings by her husband, and Sonita has accused her neighbor of rape. These are just a few cases of abuse against women in the small town of Kumba, Cameroon, which are spotlighted in the award-winning documentary “Sisters in Law” (2005).

The film will be shown at the Library of Congress at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4, in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., Washington, D.C. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Margaret Lazarus, social activist and filmmaker, and Pascal Ewane Akame, human rights lawyer and specialist in Cameroonian law. A reception in the foyer of the Pickford Theater will follow the discussion.

The event, which is sponsored jointly by the Law Library of Congress and Tufts University, is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and advance reservations are required (contact Alisa Carrel at

“Sisters in Law” is the latest documentary from internationally renowned director Kim Longinotto and co-director Florence Ayisi. The directors call attention to cases of adultery, rape and abuse in Kumba, Cameroon, where there have been no convictions in spousal abuse cases for 17 years.

The documentary follows the work of State Prosecutor Vera Ngassa and Court President Beatrice Ntuba as they help women fight difficult cases of abuse, despite the pressure on the women from family and others in the community to remain silent. These women are determined to change their community and the world.

Screened at numerous film festivals, the documentary was nominated for Best British Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards and won both the Audience Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and the Prix Art et Essai at the Cannes Film Festival. English subtitles are used throughout the film, as English, Pidgin English and Hausa are spoken.

Filmmaker Margaret Lazarus, a senior fellow at Tufts University, has produced and directed many award-winning films. She received an Academy Award in the category Best Short Documentary Film for her film “Defending Our Lives.” With Renner Wunderlich, she founded Cambridge Documentary Films Inc., a nonprofit production and distribution organization that promotes films about social justice.

Pascal Ewane Akame is co-founder of the Better Life Institute in Fontem, Cameroon, for which he serves as legal advisor. The organization promotes rural development through poverty-reduction programs and by educating the rural population on business management, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, human rights and women’s empowerment. Akame, who received an LL.M. degree from George Washington University, also volunteers his legal services at Human Rights First in Washington, D.C.

The Legal Film Series is a part of the Law Library’s 175th anniversary celebration in 2007. The series continues on July 11 with the screening of the Hollywood classic “12 Angry Men.”


PR 07-065
ISSN 0731-3527