Benzahra’s film focuses on the torment caused by rape in the lives of three women from different walks of life, who form a bond based on their mutual suffering.
“The reason I made the movie is just to bring up this subject of rape and racism,” said Benzahra. “In the movie there are three women—one Christian, one Jewish, and one Muslim. I wanted to bring these religions together to show that there is a common struggle between these women.”
The film has already been accepted into festivals, including the Women’s International Film Festival, and recently won the Golden Ace Award at the 2009 Las Vegas International Film Festival. Benzahra said he is sending the film to festivals all over the world, including France, Spain, and Japan. He will meet with Morocco’s minister of culture in hopes of getting the film distributed there, and is hopeful that the film will be distributed in the United States as well. He has already spoken with three people who are interested in United States distribution.
“My hope is that this film gets distributed all over the world so people can see what happens when a women gets raped,” said Benzahra. “In the movie there is a rape of a woman and the woman kills herself. My partner who is a clinical psychologist told me that there are so many women who kill themselves after being raped. I hope the movie will bring awareness to this problem because it is ignored.”
According to Benzahra, he originally hoped to get support from various feminist groups in creating the film, but was told that they would not help sponsor him since it was for-profit. However, he said that the project was important to him and he decided to work almost entirely on his own to make his idea a reality.
“It’s a big project, but I’m the kind of person that if I set my mind to doing something, then I just do it,” said Benzahra. “I did the casting. I found the actors. I raised the money. I did almost everything.”
The movie was screened at Claremont McKenna College last Saturday. Most of the people who attended the event were from Los Angeles and had some connection to the film. Although the event was not widely publicized, Benzahra sent information to professors of Gender and Women’s Studies at Pomona and Scripps Colleges, but few students attended the event. Benzahra believes the lack of student interest came both from a lack of awareness about the event and a lack of interest in the subject.
“In my opinion, people are not interested in the subject of the movie,” Benzahra said. “Rape is going on every day, every minute actually. Here in the United States so many women get raped every minute and no one is trying to do anything about it.”
Benzahra said he hopes his film will be widely distributed and that it will generate more interest in the subject of rape and help to minimize its occurrence.
“I hope that through the film people will get interested in the subject because if people know about it then they will work to minimize rape because they will know the suffering,” Benzahra said. “They don’t know how women suffer when they get raped, but the movie shows how women suffer.”
Benzahra looks to continue to create movies that bring to light subject matters that are often ignored. This summer he plans to film a movie in Minnesota and South Dakota about a mentally impaired janitor to make people more aware of mental illnesses.
More information on Women City can be found at http://www.womancitymovie.com.