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FEBRUARY 23-March 23
Woman-focused and political, these films nevertheless can make Western feminism seem like a luxury—or simply irrelevant. Ngozi Onwurah’s charming Monday’s Girls, a Nigerian/British co-production (Feb. 23), follows 13 eager teenagers and one city-bred dissenter through their rite of initiation into womanhood (no, not that one). The girls are painted with swirling designs and their hair cropped and powdered yellow, for much the same look Dennis Rodman chose for his woman trip. Their breasts are examined before the town to ascertain their virginity(?!) and their legs are encased in copper Slinkies, among other indignities, but the initiates are touchingly proud of thus proving themselves adults. Director Flora M’mbugu-Schelling will introduce From Sun Up and These Hands (March 2), the latter an unblinking look at Mozambican women refugees breaking rocks for $6 a week in a Tanzanian quarry. I Have a Problem, Madam, (March 9) follows lawyers who defend women in domestic disputes throughout Uganda. Hyenas (March 16) is a Senegalese black comedy based on Friedrich Durrenmatt’s macabre play The Visit. A rich, bitter old woman returns to her impoverished childhood town and offers “100,000 million” for the head of the man who spurned her 50 years earlier. The townspeople assure the old man he’s safe; meanwhile, they madly buy things on credit. The series wraps up with Sankofa (pictured, March 23), by Howard University’s Haile Gerima. A guest speaker leads a discussion after each film at 7 p.m. at Joe’s Movement Emporium, 3802 34th St., Mount Rainier. $5. (301) 699-1819. (Virginia Vitzthum)