Film has universal theme
Film on domestic violence prevention opens door to dealing with the past
On a sultry summer night 22 years ago, 18-year-old Attiya Khan, fearing for her life, bolted from her home. She was running from her ex-boyfriend Steve, who had been hurting her on a regular basis.
Years later, Khan asks Steve to meet up with her. She wants to know his memories of their relationship and whether he is willing to take responsibility for his violent actions.
This is the premise of the documentary, “A Better Man”, that is being screened on July 15, 2 p.m., at the Florence Simmons Performance Hall as part of 2017 P.E.I. Film, Food and Ideas Festival.
“What makes my story unique is that I invited the person who harmed me into a conversation about the violence he inflicted on me,” says Khan, during an interview over the internet.
Her proactive approach to dealing with domestic abuse has received strong reaction.
“The first time I saw the film I was really afraid for Attiya. It’s hurtful and painful. But, she’s brave,” says P.E.I. family member Anne Mazer, who believes the film is an important object lesson.
“My hope is that it will open up a conversation for young people. Attiya is older now and she’s telling her story many
years after the fact. So I’m interested in ways this story can be told earlier.”
While the film has an “intense” narrative, it has a universal theme, says the executive director of the Prince Edward Island Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
“Within the story there are many, many moments that
people will recognize that will open up a conversation of what we can do to prevent this form of abuse, what can be done to address it and what healing might be like,” says Jane Ledwell.
Directed by Khan and Lawrence Jackman, it’s an important film for Prince Edward Islanders to see, says the executive
director of the Women’s Network of P.E.I.
“On P.E.I. there are a lot of people experiencing violence. And that violence is genderbased. I also believe that as Islanders, we don’t like to talk about the violence that exists in our communities. So bringing a film like this here starts a community conversation that’s desperately needed here,” says Jillian Kilfoil.
“If we want to prevent violence then we need to talk with people who are using violence and people who are experiencing it. People who choose to use violence need help and support to work towards having healthy and caring relationships. People who are experiencing violence need help and support to find safety, justice and healing,” she says.
The special presentation will also include a screening of “I Didn’t Forget”, a testimony from Kinley Dowling that depicts the events that inspired her song “Microphone”, a song that recounts the night she was raped in a field after her prom
16 years ago. After recognizing the shame and anger she had been carrying with her, Dowling decided to express her feelings through spoken word and music. She chose her friend, P.E.I. filmmaker Jenna MacMillan, to direct both films. Both women will attend Saturday’s screening.
“I am really happy that our film is part of the P.E.I. fest and is paired with the film, “A Better Man”, says Dowling.
“The subject of sexual assault is an important topic that needs to be discussed openly in order to stop it from happening.
“Jenna and I are happy to be part of that conversation.”
Anne Mazer, right, is the mother-in-law of Attiya Khan whose real-life story is told in, “A Better Man”, to be screened Saturday at 2 p.m., as part of P.E.I. Fest in Florence Simmons Performance Hall, Holland College in Charlottetown. Community supporters of the film include, from left, Jillian Kilfoil, executive director of the Women’s Network of P.E.I., and Jane Ledwell, executive director of the Prince Edward Island Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Attiya Khan, a co-director of “A Better Man”, conceived the idea for the documentary in 2012, drawing on her personal and professional experience with intimate partner violence.