Kholoud Al-Faqih is the first female judge, appointed in 2009, in the Shari’a courts of Palestine. “Shari’a” may have taken on ominous overtones, but in Palestine, this is simply the family court, dealing with divorce, child custody and the like. In a society in which women are not recognized as equals under the law—certainly not in the civil and criminal courts—Al-Faqih is an absolute pioneer. She brings her woman’s perspective to her cases, and her appreciation of the woman’s side of reality that, as American documentary filmmaker Erika Cohn shows, some men are clearly blind to. Cohn’s portrait is a delight, as is her subject, who is as fiery and as passionate as any Western feminist; Al-Faqih clearly takes enormous pride and even great humor in embracing the most liberal interpretations of the Koran possible. Al-Faqih is an immensely fascinating character, a woman who smashes stereotypes just by going about her day, and her story is essential viewing, depicting an Islamic society where the same conversation between tradition and change that is occurring in the West is also happening. Spoiler: Progress is winning.
Director: Erika Cohn
Producer: Erika Cohn, Diana Dougan and Geralyn White Dreyfous