I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced (Ana Nojoom bent alasherah wamotalagah)
A true story about a ten-year-old girl, forced to marry a man twenty years her senior. She tries to free herself from this violent relationship by filing for divorce at a Yemeni court. Khadija Al-Salami is Yemen’s first female filmmaker and belongs to a new generation of Arab women filmmakers whose work is currently screened in EYE.
The opening film in EYE’s programme is an adaptation of the international bestseller about 10-year old Nujood, who made international headlines in 2009 when she protested against her arranged marriage. Nujood became the figurehead of the fight against child brides in Yemen. According to figures of the United Nations and the Yemeni government, some 50% of Yemeni girls are married before they are 18, while 15% is married before the age of 15.
The girls are taken away from their families with the promise of a moderate dowry and the argument that there will be ‘one mouth less to feed’. Nojoom’s husband, however, forces his young bride to do hard work and rapes her every night – a legitimate and acceptable act in the eyes of the majority, but not for Nojoom.
I Am Nojoom… is the feature film debut of Khadija Al-Salami, who previously made 25 documentaries on the position of women in Yemen. At 16, Al-Salami obtained a grant to go to the United States, where she studied filmmaking. The first film she made focused on women in Yemen, after which she continued to produce more than 20 documentaries for French and Yemenite TV stations. Together with her husband, she wrote The tears of Sheba, a book which records her experiences of growing up in Yemen.