LAST DAY! The campaign ends at 06.31am on New Year's Eve (01.31 New York time) - so today, Sunday 30 December is the last day to make a pledge. It's all or nothing. If I get past the £10,000 goal, I receive the money. If I don't, I get nothing. Every single £1 helps. Thank you and happy new year to everyone reading this, whether they pledge or not! Deborah
BASTARDS is about illegitimate children and the fathers who abandon them. By following single mothers fighting for justice, the documentary addresses big social issues through small human stories….heart-warming and heart-breaking stories captured in the raw, as Moroccan men and women clash about sex, children, marriage and money. It's a surprising contemporary documentary that touches anyone who has loved or been betrayed.
The documentary has been shot, and now we need funds to edit it and share it with audiences around the world.
In the West, a documentary about single mothers, and children abandoned by their fathers is no big deal, but in Muslim countries, where unmarried sex is illegal, the stakes are incredibly high. This timely film captures stories from the cutting edge of Islam.
Illegitimate children in Morocco are outcasts, non people, bastards ... but recent legal reforms give single mothers the right to register their children, either alone, or by persuading the father to recognise the child in court. Registration on the state birth register means access to education and health care, and a respectable position in society. BASTARDS follows single mothers battling for these rights for their children.
The radical Casablanca charity L'Association Solidarite Feminine opened its case files to us, and the Moroccan Ministry of Justice granted unprecedented access to film in the Agadir courts. The production team Deborah Perkin (former BBC Senior Producer) and Nora Fakim (former BBC Morocco Correspondent) lived in a Casablanca slum for two months to be amongst the single mothers they were filming. This is a rare glimpse into a hidden world.
In most Muslim countries a documentary like BASTARDS would be unthinkable....but thanks to brave campaigners and a socially tolerant king, Morocco has led the way in social and legal reforms that help single mothers and their illegitimate children to secure a future.
THE STORIES & CHARACTERS
Rabha El Haymar’s story is the spine of the film. She is a single mother and her daughter is illegitimate because under Morocco's family law reforms, her traditional marriage as a child bride was not legal. She battles through the courts to legalise the marriage, to register her daughter and to force the father to accept his child. We witness extraordinary scenes.… the courtroom lies of her child’s father, verbal abuse from her child's grandfather, Rabha's confrontation with her mother asking why she married her off so young, and finally her triumph in the courts.
Along the way, we also meet larger-than-life Fatiha, tirelessly pressing the father of her child for maintenance, law student Naim, a young man who is distressed about growing up with the shame of illegitimacy, Saida who was rejected by her family and almost gave birth at a police station, and Kultum who is too young to be a mother following her rape, and is struggling with the responsibility.
L'Association Solidarite Feminine's founder Aicha Chenna has given her working life to supporting single mothers to bring up their children with dignity. Her tireless campaigning has gradually changed social and legal attitudes. In BASTARDS we meet her and her equally feisty female colleagues, the social workers and lawyers who work on the frontline with single mothers.
Sex outside marriage may be illegal in Muslim countries but that doesn’t stop it happening. Inevitably, without sex education, or easy access to contraception or to legal abortion, unwanted illegitimate babies are born. With 6500 babies abandoned every year, Morocco faces a crisis, but instead of taking a punitive approach, it encourages single parents to be reconciled and their children to be legitimised. Radical reforms in 2004 to its family law code, the Moudawana, put Morocco at the forefront of developing human rights for single mothers and their illegitimate children. You can read an English translation of the Moudawana at www.hrea.org/moudawana.html#31
WHY DID I MAKE THIS DOCUMENTARY?
I wouldn't pretend that I predicted the Arab Spring, but in 2009 I did work out that Morocco was pushing ahead with democratic reforms and that something interesting was happening in Muslim North Africa. It all started with a holiday with my mum. We had a tour of Morocco and found that everywhere we went women wanted to talk to us, take photos with us, ask us what we thought of their country. This was a completely different experience from traveling in the other Muslim countries we had visited, where women were much less visible in the workforce and on the streets. And so began my passion for Morocco and its people, which led to me putting my all into making this documentary.
When I got home I searched the internet and discovered that Morocco had many women's rights and human rights organisations. They had campaigned for legal reforms which eventually became law in 2004, amending the Family Code, the Moudawana. Child marriages were outlawed with the age of sexual consent for men and women set at 18, polygamy was virtually outlawed, and women's child custody rights improved. Single mothers could register their children alone, choosing a father's surname from a state list if the father refused to give the child his name - and once registered, children are entitled to education and healthcare.
I didn't want to make an issue-based report on legal reform but a moving documentary showing personal stories of women using the new law. Eventually I found Aicha Chenna and L'Association Solidarite Feminine. She and her staff welcomed me in to their radical charity, set up in the face of death threats from conservative Islamists, but working all the time to reintegrate single mothers into society, and make sure their illegitimate children have the best possible start in life. Their work became my obsession. I had to make a documentary with them and the women they support.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR PLEDGE?
You only pay if we meet our Kickstarter goal. If we fail to meet the goal, you donate £0 and we receive £0. If you believe that the documentary should be seen around the world, please pledge and encourage other people in your network to pledge too.
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT WE CAN EXCEED OUR GOAL! If many people contribute, and we double or treble or make even bigger multiples of the goal, we will be able to do so much more - to post produce the documentary and get it out to audiences on television and/or in theatres. We have faith in the material, and we hope that you will too. Together we can make it happen!
Everyone who has worked with me has given more support and commitment than I could ever have hoped for - they put me up in their homes in Morocco, lived in poor conditions, gave up evenings and weekends - just because they believed in the film. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Nora Fakim - Assistant producer Journalist and former Rabat-based BBC Morocco Correspondent Loubaba Imlahi - Researcher Rabat-based English teacher and film studies graduate El Mehdi Mehdioui - Fixer Marrakech-based travel consultant Karima Sbitri - Arabic translator in UK Jenny Dafydd - French translator in UK Amanda McGregor - Editor
This is a compelling documentary which sweeps you into the lives of Rabha, Fatiha and Kultum as they fight for justice for their illegitimate children. With a strong narrative and some unforgettable characters, Deborah Perkin's film sensitively portrays the plight of Moroccan children abandoned by their fathers. ANGELA HOLDSWORTH writer and television consultant
The stigma of illegitimacy in traditional societies, where sex outside
marriage is illegal, leads to poverty. stress and discrimination for
mothers and children. BASTARDS follows single mothers battling for
rights for their children in Morocco. This documentary shows stories
which move and inspire. It deserves to be seen widely, and create debate
about the treatment of single mothers, the responsibilities of fathers
and the needs of children in the Middle East. It will also have lessons
for all of us about how we prevent innocent people from becoming
outcasts in our own society.
Professor Anthony Costello FMedSci, Director, UCL Institute for Global Health
It has been an absolute pleasure and honour to work on this documentary. All the women featured are inspirational - the resilient women like Rabha and Fatiha in difficult emotional, psychological, and financial situations, and the shining example of the women who run Sol Fem, who provide unconditional support and invaluable advice. These kinds of women make me very proud of my Moroccan heritage and I believe we are seeing great changes in Morocco towards making Moroccan society more just, not only at the hands of women but men too. KARIMA SBITRI Translator
I had the great privilege to work closely with Deborah Perkin since 2010 as a fixer for her Moroccan film about single mothers and illegitimate children. Mme Perkin has spent a huge amount of her energy, time and money to make this project a reality. She wants to show both how it is difficult for this part of Moroccan society struggling and facing all these problems, with little attention or protection from the whole system, and at the same time to prove how Morocco is far in advance of many other Arab and Muslim countries. EL MEHDI MEHDIOUI Fixer and travel consultant
Risks and challenges
If we were just beginning this project, the risks would be that contributors would pull out, that our access would be withdrawn, that we would not be able to complete the filming for one reason or another, but this film is in the can. The stories are shot because I worked on this at my own risk.
If we make the goal, the Kickstarter money will pay for a good rough cut (an early edited version of the finished documentary). The next step will be to show the rough cut to broadcasters and distributors around the world, to put the funding package together to do the post production (polishing and colour grading the pictures, and tracklaying and dubbing the sound). If Kickstarter yields double the goal, then we will be able to finish the film before sending it out for distribution.
Meeting our pledge deadlines of March 2013 for the rough cut viewings will be no problem, but completion and delivery by download of the final documentary may not be possible for June 2013. It all depends on how quickly broadcasters and distributors sign up. Downloads can't be sent to pledgers until the documentary is transmitted or distributed generally. As for festival screenings, there is an annual set of deadlines and selectors often want to see the completed film before making a decision. So it is very difficult to say when the first public screening is likely to be.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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