Petr Lom (Kyrgyzstan/UK/USA) 51'


When a Kyrgyz man decides to marry, he often abducts the woman he has chosen. Typically, he and several friends hire a car, stake out his bride-to-be's movements, snatch her off the street, and take her to the groom's family home. A delegation is then sent to her family. The abducted woman is held until someone from her family arrives to determine whether they will accept the "proposal" and she will agree to marry her kidnapper. Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan documents in harrowing detail four such abductions, from the violent seizures on city streets and the tearful protests of the women, who are physically restrained and persuaded to accept their fate by the women of the groom's family, to the often tense negotiations between the respective families, and either the eventual acquiescence or continued refusal of the young women. Subsequent interviews with the kidnapped brides, their families as well as their in-laws' families reveal both the deep cultural roots of the tradition as well as growing rejection of it in this newly independent and rapidly modernizing society, especially by young women who wish to continue their education. Although bride kidnapping has been illegal in Kyrgyzstan since 1994, it is a law that is rarely enforced, and one in three rural ethnic Kyrgyz women have been forced into such marriages. Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan is a remarkably illuminating look at what will seem to most Westerners, apart from the most committed cultural relativists, as a shocking social custom but one that, at the same time, raises provocative questions about the nature of love and marriage.

Petr Lom was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1968. He grew up in Canada and received his Ph.D. in political philosophy from Harvard in 1997. He taught at several European universities, wrote a scholarly book on skepticism, and translated a beautiful book of Czech philosophy. He gave up his career in the University in 2004 to pursue a full-time career as a documentary filmmaker. Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan is his first film.

Contact Information:

First Run/Icarus Films
32 Court Street, #2107
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Co-presented with the National Asian American Telecommunications Association (NAATA)

©2005 United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF)