In this film three passionate women tell stories of kidnap, corruption and secret societies as they fight to improve the position of women in politics in Sierra Leone. Oil painted animation and live action present issues of gender and politics as compelling and thought provoking viewing. Official Selection Sundance Film Festival 2013.

Whistling, kidnap and a bottle of tippex all feature in this part animated documentary which looks at the violence and corruption women face when entering the male dominated world of politics in Sierra Leone.

The film opens with painted animation of a vibrant scene in Freetown as the country descends into the appalling eleven year civil war which ended in 2001. The war imagery then dissolves into the Sierra Leone Parliament today where we see Bernadette fighting for the rights of women in this traditionally patriarchal society. The long struggle to achieve fair representation for women in the governance of Sierra Leone is revealed to us with passion by three extraordinary women from diverse backgrounds – Bernadette, Barbara and Salamatu.

They tell of the ‘road blocks’ they have overcome; these include kidnap, corruption and blackening of their characters by insinuating that they are prostitutes. The film focuses on the characters of the women through live action video whilst the stories they relate about their personal experiences are presented through exquisite oil hand-painted animation onto glass. Bernadette, who comes originally from a poor rural family, tells us that women are not permitted to whistle in Sierra Leone. As a child she was beaten out of the house with a cane by her grandmother who is the head of the secret society and fears that a girl whistling will bring evil spirits into the house. A woman should not whistle, a woman should be subservient… but the feisty Bernadette ignored her advice and even now whistles at her computer in parliament. She serves as a role model for women, in particular Salamatu, who is intending to stand for election in 2012. We follow the women to a meeting where they will be working on the 30% Quota bill; for as Barbara says, ‘We want it now, we want it now…’

Courtesy African Digital Art