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‘QUIET REVOLUTION’: Local filmmaker to screen her breakthrough film in Berkhamsted cinema

 Published on: 4th March 2023   |   By: Darius Morgan   |   Category: Uncategorized

A former Berkhamsted School student and debut filmmaker is hosting a special screening of her breakthrough film in the town’s beloved cinema this month.

In Women Behind the Wheel, Cat Haigh, together with best friend Hannah Congdon, sets off on a gruelling 3,000km road trip along the Pamir Highway, the second highest road in the world, through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Their route brings them to the doorsteps of women from all walks of life, revealing a women’s movement that has had as many ups and downs as the turbulent terrain.

Cat, who grew up in Amersham, spoke to BERKHAMSTEDnews about her four-year project.

She said: “Hannah and I were both very curious about this region of the world. We started to come across stories about women who were doing interesting things to empower themselves. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there had been a reclamation of Islam taking over and women’s rights were changing.

“We wanted to tie together this idea of two women getting behind the wheel and behind the camera and use our journey to gain access to these women living in this incredible part of the world.

“We were really surprised at the access we ended up gaining. Far more people opened up and shared intimate personal stories with us. I think it was because we were two young women and there wasn’t a big camera crew; it was just us with our camera.”

Over the course of the three-month trip, Cat and Hannah spoke with more than 50 women and heard stories of female empowerment, from a group training Tajikistan’s first-ever female trekking guides to a feminist collective running workshops on sexual pleasure.

Cat said: “We went to film looking for these really big feminist stories, women doing amazing things, and actually the thing that stuck with us most was women making small changes in their own way in their own communities. It all amounts to this quiet revolution. It’s this small act of resistance that may look insignificant even to themselves, but they’re not.”

Cat and Hannah first pitched the idea of the film to Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2019 and won some funding for the project. Two screenings of the film took place at the festival in August 2022.

Cat said: “It felt great to complete the full circle and go back and show the full film. It was the first time our film was brought to a public audience, so really, really exciting.”

Women Behind the Wheel has also been selected for One World Festival in Prague and No Man’s Land Festival in Denver.

The film’s release has intentionally matched up with International Women’s Day (March 8). There will be a special screening at The Rex in Berkhamsted on Sunday, March 12, featuring a Q and A with Cat and Hannah.

Cat said: “The heart of the film comes from the stories of the incredible women in it. It felt right to try and release the film around International Women’s Day. We have a very small team of mostly young women, for all of whom it’s their first feature film. We really hope that we can encourage young budding filmmakers to go out and pursue their dreams.

“The Rex is a cinema my parents still go to once a week. We used to go most Sundays. It’s such a beautiful space, so it does feel very special to be showing it there.”

Anybody unable to make the showing at The Rex can still catch London showings of the film at the Castle Cinema on March 19 and the Lexi Cinema on March 27.

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