Invoking Justice

Director: Deepa Dhanraj
English (subtitled), 52 min, 2011, India
Invoking Justice
A still from Invoking Justice

In the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, family disputes are settled by Islamic councils, called Jamaats, which consist exclusively of men. Only men conduct investigations and interrogations while also cooperating with police and civil courts. Women are not even permitted to appear before a Jamaat. Even in cases that directly concern them, women must be represented by a man. In many cases, council members dispense justice according to their needs while invoking Sharia law. This documentary looks at a group of courageous women who in 2004 stood up against this injustice by establishing a female Jamaat. The film follows three cases where determined women resolutely emerge from violent households to confront the pusillanimous and indecisive members of male Jamaats. After being disregarded at the outset, the female Jamaat has travelled a long road to become a respected civic initiative. Despite lingering prejudice and corruption, it now cooperates with families, police, and male Jamaats in the search for justice.

Producer: Deepa Dhanraj
Director: Deepa Dhanraj
Camera: Navroze Contractor
Script: Monisha Baldawa, Jabeen Merchant
Editing: Monisha Baldawa, Jabeen Merchant
Sound: S. Kalaichelvan
  • Golden Conch for the Best Documentary (above 40 minutes), Mumbai International Film Festival, 2014
  • Best Editor (Jabeen Merchant), Mumbai International Film Festival, 2014
  • QFX Jury Award, Film Southasia
Select Screenings:
  • Int’l Doc FF Amsterdam (IDFA), International Premiere
  • One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, Prague
  • Helsinki Documentary Film Festival
  • Asian American International Film Festival
  • San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
  • Hawaii International Film Festival
About the Director:

Deepa Dhanraj is an award winning filmmaker who has been actively involved in the women's movement since 1980. Over the years, she has participated in workshops, seminars and discussion groups on various issues related to women's status - political participation, health and education.

Deepa has an extensive filmography spanning nearly three decades that include many series of films on education and health as well as award winning documentaries. Enough of this Silence (2008) , The Advocate (2007), Nari Adalat (2000), Itta Hejje Mundakka Thegiya Bediri Hindakka, a series of 12 films for elected women in Gram Panchayats (1995), The Legacy of Malthus (1994), Something like a War (1991), and Sudesha (1983), are a few of her films.

Her films have traveled to numerous film festivals world wide. Her film Kya Hua Iss Sheher Ko? was recently restored by the Arsenal, Berlin.

Posted by Magic Lantern Movies LLP on February 2, 2014
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