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The filmic structure and visual style

We follow the three girls and Mme Dolo over a period of 6 months and see how they cope with their situation. Did Shunshuan, a girl highly at risk to develop a fistula, already give birth? Can they help Mariam in the regional hospital with her fistula? How is the situation for her when she returns to her village and how does her family cope with her incontinence? Will Kaneba, after her long history with fistulas, finally get cured? Will she return to her husband, who rejected her when she was ill?

By introducing three women with fistulas in different stages, I would like to show the bigger dimension of this problem and incorporate their social situation.

The story of the social worker Mme Dolo is the red thread throughout film. We follow her while visiting the villages, touring with the theater and holding lectures in crowed schoolrooms. We follow her to regional health centers and to the university hospital in Bamako and learn about the problems there, like notorious shortage of staff, crowed waiting areas virtually no surgical instruments. There we meet the head surgeon, Prof. Ouattara, who talks about the situation of women with fistulas in general and in comparison with other countries in Africa. Finally we hear about the personal motivation of Mme Dolo to engage in this matter.

For the visual style there are two approaches: on one hand I would like to show the living situation of these women in an observational way. We see them working at home, fetching water, preparing food and learn about their position in the family hierarchy. These sequences are shot in a bright, colourful style. On the other hand, when telling the women’s personal story, I would like to be very close with the camera, telling the story form their point of view and develop an intimate, sheltered space. These pictures are shot in low-key.

A leading visual motif will be the walking and riding scenes from the remote villages to the hospitals. It’s a journey of hope, after suffering for months or sometimes years without proper medical help.

We already went on a research trip to Mali with a Swiss film found and have secured access to the women and institutions involved. Since Mme Dolo is working for years in this field, women trust her and are ready to talk about as intimate things as fistulas.

The Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières are interested in the film and help financially and with logistics.

In 2003 UNFPA launched a global Campaign to End Fistula, with Natalie Imbruglia and Bertrand Piccard as Goodwill Ambassadors.