Cameroonian-born Canadian actress and independent filmmaker Dorothy A. Atabong has found there are some things you just can’t stay silent about. So when she read in the newspaper about a 16-year-old Toronto girl being murdered by her father in the name of “honour” after refusing to wear the hijab, Atabong felt she needed to do something:
“One could describe it as a growing epidermic. I began asking people randomly if they had heard of honor killings and many were unaware of the subject. This is what propelled me to picked up a pencil and write what was the first of many drafts of Sound of Tears. To raise awareness and send out a large message to millions of people. The United Nations estimates that 5,000 women are killed each year in the claim of having dishonored their families. Many cases remain unheard of, as they are never reported. In the UK alone last year, the police reported 2,823 so-called honor crimes. That’s nearly eight a day.”
Atabong has already put together her creative team for the short, fictional film. It includes cinematographer Ben Lichty and editor Jonathan Egan. Atabong feels the timing for the project is good, as there has been some movement at the federal level to develop policy on this issue:
“The UK is ahead of us and has hotlines. Forced marriage is a criminal offence and there is a police force and shelter in place trained to assist victims of such crimes. Karma Nirvana is a hotline for victims in the UK and I will be meeting with its founder next month.
Our government is on the verge of creating a platform for this issue. We are happy to say we have Dr. Amin Muhammad of Memorial University of Newfoundland as our supporter (author of the report for the federal government on honour killings. He has done extensive research, written several books and articles, appeared on TV shows discussing this topic).”
Despite this, Atabong and her team have had trouble getting funding from traditional sources. They’re turning instead to Indiegogo to raise the $25,000 needed to complete the film, hopefully with ACTRA actors and a professional crew. Atabong hopes that completing the project will lead to real change:
“The film will be submitted to film festivals all over the world and also made available to libraries and institutions. We hope to reach millions of people with the message “help stop honor killings”. We also will make available in the film and at festival screenings, pamphlets and other useful information about this issue so we can all engage in dialogue. It would also give anyone in such a conflict situation or who might know such a person, a place to go.”
If you’re interested in helping with the project, you can: