In the Name of the Family

Genre:  Documentary
Running Time:  90 min.
Release year:  2011

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The death of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez, strangled by her father in Toronto, compelled Toronto-based filmmaker Shelley Saywell to take a hard look at the murder of young women by their own families. She began filming at Aqsa's vigil and three weeks later, teenage sisters Amina and Sarah Said were shot to death by their father in Dallas, Texas. Five months later, 19-year-old Fauzia Mohammed of Rochester NY was stabbed 11 times by her brother. Miraculously, she survived.

Saywell tells their stories: examining the escalating tensions that led to their deaths and how the community reacted to it. In eerie parallel, we meet other girls who continue to live in anxiety and fear. From South Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant families, these girls are caught between two cultures where parent-teenage clashes can lead to horrific domestic abuse.

Known as honor killing, this form of violence is not sanctioned by any religion, but has been culturally entrenched in some parts of South Asia, and the Middle East. In post-911 North America, this topic has become polarizing—either silenced or sensationalized. The tragedy is, there are very few safety nets out there for girls in danger.

In this film viewers meet the girls, their families and friends, and enter a normally closed world where young women wanting to bridge two worlds are victimized by the men who claim to love them the most.

Director: Shelley Saywell
Studio: Bishari Films
Producer(s): Shelley Saywell
Screenplay: Shelley Saywell
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