Sister (screening)

  • Directed by: Brenda Davis
  • Produced by: Brenda Davis 

    Released: 2013
    Running Time: 87 min
    Subtitles: English
    Subjects: Human Rights, Women's Studies

    SISTER follows maternal health workers in Ethiopia, Cambodia and Haiti though beautiful and brutal circumstances. A surgical health officer in Ethiopia, a rural midwife in Cambodia, and a traditional birth attendant in Haiti work tirelessly to save the lives of women and babies. If there is a war on women, these health workers are the shock troops in their defense. Their stories reveal strategies in place to improve maternal health and the crisis of maternal and newborn mortality, shedding light on when the strategies work, when they don't work and how the lack of transport, communication and education create weak links along the way.
    Sister is a film directed, produced, shot and edited by women.


    • Montreal World Film Festival 2012
    • Take One Action Film Festival, Edinburgh 2012
    • Reykjavik Film Festival, 2012
    • African Diaspora Film Festival, 2013
    • Cambodia International Film Festival, 2012
    • One World Human Rights Film Festival, 2013
    • Doxa Film Festival, 2013
    • International Film Festival of Documentary Films on Human Rights : Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan, 2013


    "Childbirth in Third World nations comes under scrutiny in this sovereign, intermittently harrowing documentary from director Brenda Davis that follows three healthcare working in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Cambodia,where the rates of childbirth-related deaths are alarmingly high. In Haiti, Davis shadows the gregarious Madam Bwa—a traditional birth attendant—on her rounds through twisting, poverty-stricken streets. Despite the lack of formal medical training, Madam Bwa has helped to deliver 12,000 babies over the course of 32 years. In Cambodia, Pum Mach—a soft-spoken supervising midwife for 22 years—meets with several patients, including a 19-year-old with malaria who will need a cesarian section, but lacks the funds for surgery (Pum Mach comes up with a solution, but the delivery presents additional complications). Other medical dilemmas encountered involve an impacted placenta, a stillborn fetus, and a gangrenous uterus (doctors successfully remove the damaged portion of the organ). As Ethiopian OB/GYN resident Goitom Berhane laments, most of these problems are preventable, but a lack of education and reliable transportation transforms minor issues into major ones. Fortunately, Ehtiopia also has health extension workers, such as Hirity Belay—a tracksuit-sporting high school graduate with a year of training—who travels to remote villages on foot to assist pregnant women with nutrition, hygiene, and other concerns. Without the kind of dedicated professionals who appear in Davis's documentary, the situation would be worse, but she makes it clear that the women of developing nations need far more care than they've been receiving. Viewers should be forewarned that SISTER is fairly graphic, with frequent nudity and some squirm-inducing surgical procedures. Recommended." —Video Librarian