British documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto has been producing work for three decades. Her films have circulated widely and garnered significant critical acclaim. Despite her prominence in the industry, Longinotto's films have attracted surprisingly little scholarly attention. Her documentaries frequently focus on women and children in not only the United Kingdom but also in cultures as diverse as Japan, Iran, and nations in Africa. This essay explores four of her most well-known recent documentaries, Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Runaway (2001), both made in Tehran and codirected with Ziba Mir-Hosseini; The Day I Will Never Forget (2002), made in Kenya; and Sisters in Law (2005), codirected with Florence Ayisi in Cameroon. Each focuses on marginalized subjects who also act as the agents of social transformation. Analyzing how the women in these films negotiate the intersection of modernity and traditional or religious law, this essay argues that Longinotto frames the women not as “primitive others” but as entrenched in the complex paradigms of modernity. Moreover, the four documentaries under consideration weave together the activities of expressing pain or witnessing the pain of others (both physical and emotional) and confronting disempowerment. The representation of this pain is integral to how Longinotto's camera perceives individual agency, gender, and political struggle. These are different facets of what this essay poses as Longinotto's “cinema of translation.”

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.