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Sisters in Law (Unrated)

Release Date: April 12th, 2006 (Film Forum) by Women Make Movies.
Directed by Florence Ayisi and Kim Longinotto.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about lawyer Vera Ngassa and judge Beatrice Ntuba who practice law at a small judicial court in Kumba Town, a village in Cameroon, Africa.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Sisters in Law interweaves three different court cases, each of which includes different forms of physical abuse. In one case, a husband gets charged with physically abusing his wife. In the other two cases, a young girl accuses her neighbor of rape and another young girl accuses her aunt of abusing her. None of these cases play out like a mystery because it’s obvious who the real culprit is and that they will be punished accordingly for their crimes. Directors Florence Ayisi and Kim Longinotto still make each case interesting by showing Vera Ngassa interrogate both the victim and the abuser in her small office to hear both sides and to get a complete picture of the case. Ngassa always has a quick-witted reaction to every answer and knows how to get to the bottom of each case efficiently. The most interesting case is the one with the aunt accused of abusing her young niece with a belt simply for disobeying her. Ngassa even examines the young, malnourished girl and notices many small scars, including one under her eye. It would have been slightly less confusing if the film wouldn’t just around from case to case in order to focus more on each one. Nonetheless, it’s surprisingly fun to watch each abuser finally get the punishments they truly deserve in court.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Vera Ngassa and Florence Ayisi’s justice system serves as a crucial step toward bringing justice and equality to a country that suffers from a lack of it with violence, hatred and unfairness—particularly toward women. Sisters in Law doesn’t insightfully explore how this small court system makes big changes within the society. Yet, it seems to be an exemplar for a broader picture of social progress and does give one hope that justice can prevail anywhere, even in a Third-World country such as Cameroon.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough insight into the social or political importance of the court system.


IN A NUTSHELL: Surprisingly engaging, fascinating and witty! Not enough insight to be powerful, though.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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