The Judge – with Q&A
Directed by Erika Cohn
Religious courts in the Middle East had historically banned women from adjudicating domestic and family matters – in both the Shari’a courts of Islam and the Rabbinic courts of Judaism – until Kholoud Al-Faqih dares to challenge that history. With the support of a progressive Sheik, Kholoud becomes the first woman judge with her appointment to a Palestinian Shari’a court in the West Bank, bringing subtle new perspective garnered from her early professional life working with battered women as an attorney in both the criminal and Shari’a courts.
This feature-length documentary chronicles Kholoud’s appointment, her first years as a judge and her tenacious ability to maintain her position despite attempts to marginalize and demote her. Through Kholoud’s eyes, the film examines the religious and legal stipulations between men and women according to Shari’s law, relaying how the worst aspects of misinterpreted Shari’a laws reflect a tragic misogyny – rape, beatings and polygamy – stemming from misconstrued ignorance of the Qur’an. As Kholoud’s most compelling cases develop in gripping cinema verite style, the film reveals precisely the kinds of misinterpretations of Shari’s law that Kholoud now has the power to correct.
With unparalleled access and a critical cinematic eye, The Judge follows Kholoud in an outside of the courtroom as she asserts her right to equality and redefines how Shari’a law perceives, treats and respects women. Illustrating a unique portrait of her sustained intervention, The Judge reveals that Shari’a is a system largely mischaracterized both in the Middle East and in the West. Amid a time of rapidly increasing global Islamophobia, The Judge illuminates how colonial occupation has impacted the legal and cultural spheres of the contemporary Islamic world, while reflecting a universal struggle for women’s control over their bodies, economic welfare, custodial rights and marital status.
Q & A following the screening with The Honorable Joan S. Kohout, Monroe County Family Court Judge
Community Partners for this screening are the Monroe County Bar Association and GRAWA.
Erika Cohn is an Emmy award-winning director/producer who Variety recognized as one of 2017’s top ten documentary filmmakers. Most recently, Erika completed The Judge, a film about the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a courts, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Erika also co-directed/produced, In Football We Trust, an Emmy award-winning, feature documentary about the unique faith and culture that ultimately drives young Pacific Islander men into the NFL, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2016 Independent Lens series. Her work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, Tribeca Institute, Hot Docs, Sheffield, ITVS, Women in Film, BAVC and the CPB Producer’s Academy among others. In 2013, Erika founded Idle Wild Films, Inc., which has released three feature documentaries and produced numerous branded content and commercial spots, including Gatorade’s Win from Within series, for which she received a 2016 Webby award nomination. Erika is also an avid photographer and served as a U.S. Ambassadorial Film Scholar to Israel/Palestine.
Executive Producer: Geralyn Dreyfous, Ambassador Diana Lady Dougan
Co-Producer & Cinematographer: Amber Fares