12/19/2006 11:10 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Shape of Water

Four years ago I realized I had to make The Shape of Water. I had done my research, taught about the work done by women around the globe, written about the women in scholarly articles yet I still felt in my heart that their stories should be known by a wider audience. Their stories are important. And it is important that their realities are understood as the realities of those who are creating a new world, not those who are victims. That is why I have spent the last few years struggling to make this documentary.

My documentary weaves together the powerful stories of Khady, Bilkusben, Oraiza, Dona Antonia, Vandana and Gila who, through candor and humor, infuse their communities with a passion for change. The women are abandoning female genital mutilation (Senegal), tapping for rubber to protect the rainforest (Brazil), protecting the biodiversity of the planet (India) and opposing military occupations (Jerusalem).

I made this film because I wanted to offer fresh insights into the lives of Third World women. I have done this by revealing their complex and inspirational stories as they create a more just world. That is why I say The Shape of Water offers a new angle on globalization, human rights, and social justice.

The Shape of Water was edited from 74 hours of original footage shot in Senegal, Brazil, India, and Jerusalem. The film (overall budget approximately $120,000) was financially supported by seed monies from UCSB as well as grants from the Fund for Santa Barbara, the LEF Foundation, a private donors Gift Fund set up by individuals in Santa Barbara, and a $50,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

As part of my commitment to create opportunities for more dialogue amongst women living in the Third World, The Shape of Water will be sent to organizations and foundations such as Development Alternatives for Women in a New Era (DAWN), the Global Fund for Women, the Ford Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. I am currently in the process of raising funds to send over 100 DVDs or VHS copies to a wide range of grassroots organization in the Third World, including the organizations
addressed in the film.

Please visit my website and consider purchasing a DVD - for yourself or for a friend -- a little can help a lot.