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THE BAULKHAM HILLS AFRICAN LADIES TROUPE – The Scars That Can’t Be Seen

baulkhamDirected by Ros Horin
Starring Yarrie Bangura, Aminata Conteh-Biger, Yordanos Haile-Michael, Rosemary Kariuki-Fyfe

I’m not a great believer in trigger warnings, yet consider it given here. Not that this movie is downbeat (far from it, it is an affirmation of strength and the power of survival), but it does deal with rape and abuse. Yet these are tales that need to be told. These are voices that should not be silenced. These are issues that women all over the world are forced to deal with on a daily basis. Here those tales are told, those issues addressed, and healing can begin. That is part of what makes The Baulkan Hills African Ladies Troupe such a moving piece of cinema.

Ros Horin came up with the idea to allow refugees that were victims of sexual abuse to come forward and share their tale of survival. Her plan was to create a theatre piece from the account, but she was in no way envisaging what would eventually arise. From her research, she collected four accounts (the first people she spoke to) and went to work on something unique. Using the group as part of the therapy and healing process, she took four amateur women (the same women who’s tales they were telling) and involved them in the creation of a piece of theatre. Eventually after five years this would be the heart of a play, told on stage by these very woman.

This documentary is the story behind the making of this piece, and gives us a good idea of the ups and downs experienced in the creation of the stage show. It also goes into detail of the stories that these four women are sharing on stage, and how they have lived their life since that event. Told in a simple chronological fashion, it is composed of interviews and footage of the workshops, practices and performances.

Where it breaks from this is in the four women telling their story. Each is told in a different fashion, each is harrowing, but it is also uplifting to see what has become of each of the women since then. At times this is not an easy watch due to the emotional impact of these stories, but if you bear with it the end reward is certainly worth it.

A powerful story simply told, The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe is emotional cinema.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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