For her latest film, ”Pink Saris” (2010), British documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto spent 10 months in rural India. There, she followed Sampat Devi Pal, the feisty founder of the Gulabi Gang, a women’s activist group which takes its name from the color of their bright pink, or ‘gulabi,’ saris.
After escaping a marriage she was forced into at an early age, Ms. Pal started helping other women in rural areas stand up for their rights and dignity too. She has recruited many of those she helped and in recent years has become something of popular hero, standing as a beacon of hope for women who suffer domestic abuse in her native Uttar Pradesh. But the bigger battle Ms. Pal has been waging is that against the culture of honor and shame which runs deep in village communities, a culture which often allows acts of abuse to go unnoticed.
Rather than tell the story of Ms. Pal, the documentary shows her in action, as she brings family dramas–which range from unwanted marriages to rape–into the public light. (“I don’t like commentaries and I don’t want to be told what matters… I like to see things happen,” explained Ms. Longinotto in a recent interview.)