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Woman Rebel - Movie Review For Woman Rebel - 2009

A Woman On The Front Lines

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Woman Rebel - Movie Review For Woman Rebel - 2009

Woman Rebel 'Silu' with her Mother

Woman Rebel Films/HBO
Woman Rebel, which was on the 2010 Oscars Short List for Short Documentaries, takes us to Nepal, where Nepalese Maoist guerrillas are at war with the Royal Nepalese Army. Filmmaker Kiran Deol follows 'Silu,' a woman serving on the front lines as a battalion commander with the Nepalese Maoists.

Women At War, And Peace...

'Silu' is not the only woman on the front lines. We learn that women account for 40 percent of the rebel army.

In on-camera interviews and voice over narration, 'Silu' lets us know that she was born Uma Bhujel, the child of a poverty level farming family in the Gorkha District. Her father toiled in the fields of a rich landlord. Her older sister, Kumari, married at age twelve to a man who starved and beat her, hung herself. Her family story was not uncommon.

Uma joined the Maoists at age 18, took on the code name 'Silu' to protect her family's identity and rose through the ranks to become a commander. When the Maoists eventually put down their arms and opted for peaceful change, she was elected to be a representative in the constituent assembly.

Woman Revel - Comrades in Arms

Woman Rebel Films/HBO
Uma/Silu's story is a dramatic one, but she tells it almost dispassionately -- except when responding to a question about what she'd have done had she confronted her brother, who was serving in the Royal Nepalese Army, in battle. With sudden and agonizing emotion, she responds that she would have been loyal to the Maoist cause, even if that meant she had to kill her brother. We see that behind her calm demeanor, Uma/Silu has intense feelings and complete commitment to her cause as a freedom fighter.

In interviews with Uma's family and others we learn of the hardships of poverty, exploitation and hopelessness that gave rise to the rebellion in Nepal and, in particular, why it's the women who are so committed to bringing about change. The film and Uma/Silu's story give us a unique glimpse into what's happening in Nepal, and the understanding that glimpse gives us may be applied to other realms, as well.

First time filmmaker Kiran Deol deftly handles the telling of Uma/Silu's compelling story and all the information concerning conditions in Nepal. It's clear that she cares passionately about her subject. But her constant use of music to underscore changes in locale, event and mood is quite distracting, and actually prevents her from achieving the sense of intimacy and immediacy that would galvanize audiences. For example, patrolling rebel soldiers trying to make their way quietly through thick jungle foliage aren't listening to music -- nor should we be, as we watch them. Don't let that stop you from seeing the movie, though. And, when you do, resist the urge to tap your toes!

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Film Details:

  • Title: Woman Rebel
  • Directors: Kiran Deol
  • Release Date: August 18, 2010, premiere on HBO
  • Running Time: 37 mins.
  • Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
  • Country: Nepal
  • Language: Nepalese, with English subtitles
  • Company: Women Rebel Films/HBO
  • Official Website
  • Trailer

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