Ambassador Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues The stories of these women judges make all who hear them realize “how one brings the human rights provisions of the [South African post-apartheid constitution]—and everything the constitution represents—to reality, and that is very powerful.” The film’s story “is about the great promise of human rights and judicial reform. And that can only take root and sprout and be nurtured where there are committed people in a democracy”
Carolyn Turner, Senior TV Producer, Voice of America This is an inspirational film, especially for young people with aspirations. It is a revelation to go behind the scenes for intimate glimpses of women judges to see how meticulous they are in weighing the social and individual consequences of their judgments and interpretations of the law. The score by Philip Miller transports you to the time and place and you can feel the transformation this culture has witnessed. The spontaneous singing choir in the Court at the Political Prisoners Commemoration captures that unmistakable South African sound that reflects the pure joy of freedom. The score should be made available as a separate CD.
Jane A. Morse, Office of International Information Programs U.S. Department of State Two years after its initial release…Courting Justice continues to inspire audiences around the world with its story of South African women who fought against all odds to win judgeships in the country’s highest courts.
Linda Greenhouse,Yale Law School and former New York Times Supreme Court reporter "Courting Justice" documents in a most gripping way the role that women in the judiciary are playing in building the new South Africa. I found these women's stories touching and inspiring.
Roberta I. Shaffer, the Law Librarian of Congress (Library of Congress) "Courting Justice" tells many stories--the struggle of a nation to build a credible judiciary; the journey of a small group of women judges who agree to serve as role models in the courtroom, classroom and at home for a new generation; and the universal lesson that passion and perseverance can overcome almost all challenges. Through the camera's eye and with a compelling musical score, we are captivated as women from a wide variety of starting points don judicial robes and assume a shared "bench" to transform a nation, in this case South Africa, through the rule of law.
Neasa Ní Chianáin, Festival Co-Director,Guth Gafa Documentary Festival,Meenderry, Falcarragh, Co. Donegal, Ireland I was really moved, it lights a fire in your belly!
Charles J, Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law, Founding and Executive Director, The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice The film stands as a vivid testament to the central role of diversity in a healthy democracy. By documenting as it does the role of women in the forefront of the administration of justice at every level of the South African society, it is also a testament to South Africa’s determination to realize the promise of its remarkable constitution. All of this is conveyed in the most compelling terms. This film will be… particularly useful in generating discussion of the complex relationship between race and gender in a judicial context as well a social movement context.
Anne T. Goldstein, Human Rights Education Director, International Association of Women Judges I have been working with women judges for fifteen years, and have met three of the judges in the film last night. It was wonderful watching how well the judges pulled together so many of the themes that women judges all over the world explore and struggle with. I loved the way that music pulled together disparate scenes, and enjoyed the whole thing thoroughly.
Education Media Reviews on Line, Miriam Conten-Morgan, The Ohio State University The film is beautifully crafted. Without belaboring the point, it offers insights into South Africa’s multifaceted history, and allows viewers to feel the pulse of its urgent desire to refashion the present and the future.
Robert Odawi Porter, Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel, Seneca Nation of Indians Western societies for too long have denied the proper role that women play in sustaining human social organization. "Courting Justice" exposes the truth about both the contributions and challenges faced by women in the South African judiciary. As South Africa matures as a democracy, its success will depend upon the full incorporation of women into its halls of justice.
Meg Moloney, Chairperson, Committee on African Affairs, Association of the Bar of the City of New York Courting Justice is a film that should be seen. It gives the audience a sense of the sacrifices that women shaping their profession must make and it underscores the significance of those sacrifices in the struggle to obtain gender diversity in any professional setting. At the same time, it provides hope to the next generation of men and women that the people seated in positions of power, whether on the bench or otherwise, might better reflect the demographics and socio-economic backgrounds of the people they are charged to protect and serve. I hope young women heed the call.
Justice Richard Lee Price, Chair Gender Fairness Committee, 12th Judicial District “Courting Justice”… so captured the interest of our audience, especially the subject of [Black] women Judges in South Africa. It was shot and edited beautifully and the original South African music only added to its feel.
Judge Stephanie Domitrovich, the Court of Common Pleas, Sixth Judicial Circuit of Pennsylvanian I enjoyed [the] film immensely… I still think about [the] film and the women judges… especially when I robe for court.
Linda Varrenti Hernandez, Esq, Coordinator of Allegheny County Bar Association Institute for Gender Equality The film has stayed with me and daily I think of something else to ponder. It was very stirring and I am grateful to have shared in this spectacular event. We were all mesmerized by the film-it is beautiful and forceful.
Beverly Watson, President & Founder, Global Imprints … a fantastically moving film. It brings to life some of the challenges and sacrifices involved in ensuring justice in a post-apartheid South Africa. As one who regularly brings travelers to South Africa to collaborate on legal and business projects, I have used” Courting Justice” to stimulate discussion and reflection on the realities of modern-day South Africa. “Courting Justice” provides an inspiration for girls and women all over the world—of the role that they may play in shaping a more just society. [It reveals]… the continuous struggle associated with ensuring freedom in a transitional society like South Africa.
Dr Kajal M . Rahmani, Anthropology Department, Boston University "Courting Justice" elegantly chronicles the transformation of South Africa from tyranny of apartheid to Constitutional Democracy. The film is inspiring and enlightening. It conveys the message of peaceful progress towards human rights and racial and gender equality. Female judges as guardians of the society are becoming role models for South Africa's younger generation-- role models they did not have themselves. The film depicts enormous potential for growth and development in human life when freedom and dignity have a chance. [It] brilliantly brought the life of female Judges as mothers, daughters and judiciary powers to World's attention.
Linda E. Lucas, Ph.D. , University of South Florida “Courting Justice” was a wonderful complement to my course, Women in the Developing World, which focuses on the achievements of women as well as the challenges they face. … The film generated excellent discussion on how women in the U.S. cope with issues of sex and race discrimination.
Luz E. Nagle, Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law “Courting Justice” reveals the introspections, aspirations, and hopes of several female South African judges whose elevation to the bench signals a profound sea change in the course of South Africa's evolution as a newly formed democracy in which women and Black Africans have new opportunities to participate in the rule of law and in the delivery of justice.
The judges… show great pride and humility in carrying the weight of many of their countrymen and women on their shoulders as they forge new paths and set new milestones among a judiciary that was traditionally the domain of white males, many of them Afrikaners whose legal careers were possible due in no small measure to their place and privileges atop the Apartheid regime
Katherine Hughes, Crowley Fellow in International Human Rights, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Frodham Law School …a beautiful film that brings to light the obstacles women face in the legal profession, especially at the highest rungs. I would love to see a similar film made about our experience here in the US!
Gerald A. LeMelle, Executive Director, Africa Action “Courting Justice” provides an intimate glimpse into the motivations, backgrounds and daily lives of the small but diverse group of women serving on South Africa’s high courts. The commitment of these female judges to a boldly human rights-based jurisprudence is all the more inspiring given the obstacles they must overcome to succeed in a universe historically dominated by white men. Despite rising to the [Supreme Court of Appeal, Justice Mandisa Maya] continues to celebrate her rural heritage and never forgets the critical perspective she brings to the law as an African woman. She and her colleagues inspire a sober optimism at a time when South Africa still faces many challenges to building a truly inclusive and prosperous democracy. This is a very important film and hopefully [the] call to deepen the involvement of women in the judiciary should be heeded across the continent and inspire more young women to pursue the law as a career.
Jonny Steinberg, award winning South African journalist I enjoyed [the] film, particularly the journeys to the Transkei and the Cape Flats, which both made me feel nostalgic. The film contains some very interesting, and very distinctively South African, meditations on the relationship between personal biography and jurisprudence.
Eugenia E. Acosta What an amazing film “Courting Justice” is. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as a person interested in human rights and equal opportunities for women specifically, but as a lawyer, it really touched my heart in a special way.
Educational Media Reviews Online Recommended...Beautifully crafted… offers insights into South Africa’s multifaceted history
Dr. Gregg Salem It led to some really great discussions with [the teen age boys] about apartheid and discrimination as well as how people everywhere struggle with many of the same issues (i.e. balancing work and home).
J. Brooks Spector, Sunday Independent This film shows how to speak to the issue of “transformation”-- without getting preachy or falling into abstruse legalisms.
Tina Barsby, University of Cape Town Beautifully filmed and produced, thoughtful and thought provoking.
Lynn Hecht Schafran, National Judicial Education Program,Legal Momentum Captures in their own words several of the first women, particularly Black women, to become judges in South Africa, presenting them as individuals and placing them in the extraordinary history of their country. We hear their pride in women judges' achievements despite the sacrifices entailed, their commitment to bring the perspectives of women from vastly different life experiences into the justice system, and the deep responsibility these judges feel for creating a human rights jurisprudence for South Africa's new democracy. A rich and moving film for a wide variety of audiences.
Hannah Brenner, College of Law, Michigan State University Despite an explicit constitutional commitment to address the gendered ... aspects of the South African judiciary, as of 2008, only eighteen percent of the judges on the South African Superior Courts were women. ... Courting Justice... features the individual and collective stories of seven of these judges. It reveals the power of the court as an instrumental agent of change in the post-apartheid era and examines how these judges fit into this framework. The film offers a profound contribution to the global study of law and gender and to an important body of work on women in the world's legal professions, a field that has not traditionally focused on South Africa as a site of exploration.
Professor Jerilyn Fisher, Coordinator, Women's and Gender Studies, Hostos Community College, City University of New York I'm moved and illuminated by these women's earnestness, their keen focus on the "prize" of serving justice, their candidness about their utmost integrity regarding the enormous responsibilities their work entails, plus the challenges of balancing a normal family life with professional obligations… Beautiful shots of South Africa and lovely, amazing music too!
The film is also available in a shorter 54 minute version for purchase as a DVD from amazon.com
- contact Ruth Cowan directly to request her availability to introduce Courting Justice and moderate post-screening discussions
outside US & Canada, contact Annette Fatti