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.
First Run/Icarus Films
32 Court Street, #2107
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Co-presented with the National Asian American Telecommunications Association