Seattle Jewish Film Festival 2014: Brave Miss World ***

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on February 22, 2014)

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Cecilia Peck’s documentary is a portrait of Linor Abargil, an Israeli beauty queen turned women’s rights activist. That conversion was borne of a horrific personal trauma. At the age of 18, and just 6 weeks prior to being crowned Miss World in 1998, she was kidnapped, stabbed and raped while visiting Italy. Peck and her camera crew followed the seemingly tireless Abargil around the world for five years, documenting her drive to ensure that her attacker (eligible for parole this year) never sees the light of day, and continue her ongoing campaign to promote awareness of this often unreported crime. Everywhere she travels, she encourages victims to begin their healing by giving testimony. This is the most moving and inspiring aspect of the film; listening to these women (of all nationalities, social strata and ages) recounting their experiences and realizing how much courage it takes to come forward. You can’t help but feel outrage at the most maddeningly puzzling aspect of this vile and violent crime: Why does the burden of proof fall largely upon the victim?

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