“Draw for change”: six designers take the pencil to the wound

“Draw for change”: six designers take the pencil to the wound

From Egypt to Mexico, from the United States to Russia, India and Syria, six women capture in their drawings the injustices and violence of which their society, and women in particular, are victims. A six-part documentary series pays tribute to their work and tenacity. Iconic films on this day of the fight against violence against women.

They draw. In EgyptMexico, Russia, India, Syria, in the USA. Tirelessly, they draw. And their pencils point out the political and social injustices suffered by the population and women in particular: bans, restrictions on press freedom, direct or disguised threats, violence against women…

Sometimes censored, often threatened in their country of origin, these six cartoonists have made themselves known via social networks and some also collaborate with foreign media, such as The New Yorker, The Guardian Or International mail. This is the case of Victoria Lomasko who lived and worked in Moscow until Russia invaded Ukraine. An opponent of the regime, she was forced into exile in March 2022.

Doaa El Adl is one of the most famous press cartoonists in the Arab world. She takes a resolutely feminist and free look at her country, Egypt, particularly since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Cairo is also considered one of the most dangerous megacities in the world for women. One of her drawings caused her to appear in court for blasphemy, the designer being accused of having denigrated the role of Adam in Islam. Every day, despite threats and criticism, Doaa El Adl persists, questioning the place of her art while the right to controversy seems more and more threatened. Setting out to meet her, director Nada Riyadh is interested in the place of Egyptian women in the public space and their freedom of expression.

Amany Al-Ali lives in Idlib in northwest Syria. Before the outbreak of war in 2011, she was an art teacher. Since the arrival of rebel groups in 2015, she has recounted in images the terrible reality of war in her country. His city is caught between Bashar al-Assad’s bombs and Putin’s missiles. But this war, which particularly devastated northern Syria, seems to have long been forgotten. At least, by Western media.

Idlib, a city close to the Turkish border, is a besieged city. Part of the population tries to survive in this field of ruins flown over by crows, but education, food and freedom of movement remain daily concerns. Despite this chaotic and distressing environment, Amany draws tirelessly. She has made a place for herself in this very masculine world of political caricature. A camera follows her as she gives workshops to other Syrian women, encouraging them to express their feelings, hopes and doubts through drawing.

Drawing, testifying, making an ink stain, in fact

This aspect of emulation and role model is present in each of the six films in the collection Draw for change produced by Clin d’Oeil Filmseach designer taking to heart her role as pioneer and mentor for other less seasoned artists, pushing them to bear witness to their daily lives and to assert their point of view, even novices.

Through the meeting of these six inspiring and courageous women, an overview of the female profession emerges, but also of the difficulties and challenges that cartoonists encounter in India, Egypt, Mexico and elsewhere.

Having met them in their place of life and work, six directors testify to the vitality and the strength of representation of these creators, while the designers of the series, the Belgian documentary filmmakers Vincent Coen and Guillaume Vandenberghe (Cinema Inch’Allah, Nothing is Forgiven), imagined, in addition to the meeting of these designer-filmmaker duos, to bring to life, via animation, some of their most emblematic drawings. The opportunity to highlight the strength of press cartoons as an instrument of debate and activism, even in the digital age.

Offered two by two, on the occasion of the day to combat violence against women, the films are visible from this Friday, November 24 in a whole series of cinemas and cultural centers in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia. The entire documentary series, awarded at the CanneSeries Festival, will also be offered later on television on RTBF and VRT.

Karin Tshidimba

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