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Arts & Culture

INDEPENDENT LENS: The Judge

Judge Kholoud puts on her robe.
Courtesy of Amber Fares
Judge Kholoud puts on her robe.

Airs Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at 10:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Meet the Middle East’s First Female Shari’a Judge

“In its engaging fashion, it strikes one inspirational note after another as its follows an ambitious, tough-minded and cheerful social revolutionary.”The Hollywood Reporter

Religious courts in the Middle East, including the Shari’a courts of Islam which adjudicate domestic and family matters, have traditionally banned women from serving as judges – until Kholoud Al-Faqih dared to challenge that history.

In 2009, with the support of a progressive Sheikh, Kholoud became the first woman Shari’a judge in the Middle East with her appointment to a Palestinian Shari’a court in the West Bank.

A portrait of a remarkable woman and an eye-opening look at an often-misunderstood culture, Erika Cohn’s “The Judge” premieres on INDEPENDENT LENS, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018.

When she was a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and announced that she wanted to join the bench. He laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud defied the odds and made history.

“The Judge” offers a unique portrait of Kholoud — her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family.

Judge Kholoud helps her husband with his lawyer’s robe.
Courtesy of Amber Fares
Judge Kholoud helps her husband with his lawyer’s robe.

With unparalleled access to the courts, the film presents an unfolding vérité legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice.

In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine — custody of children, divorce, abuse — while offering an unvarnished look at life for women under Shari’a law and an inspiring look at an unforgettable woman.

“Before we named the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the first female judge of Shari’a law revealed what it takes to fight dominant chauvinism in Palestine’s justice system,” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “A trailblazer who resembles a ‘Notorious RBG’ of her country, Judge Kholoud never suggests that Islam is anti-feminist — only the people who are resistant to equality and change.”

Judge Kholoud, the Middle East’s first female Shari’a judge, hangs her robe.
Courtesy of Amber Fares
Judge Kholoud, the Middle East’s first female Shari’a judge, hangs her robe.

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

This film will be available to stream on demand for a limited time after broadcast beginning Nov. 20.

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INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS

CREDITS:

Directed and Produced by Erika Cohn. Executive Produced by Geralyn Dreyfous, Diana Lady Dougan, Barbara Dobkin, Patty Quillin, Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen. Co-Produced by Jennifer Jordan and Sara Maamouri, Amber Fares and Mark Lipson. Edited by Sara Maamouri and Ken Schneider. Cinematography by Amber Fares. Music by Omar Fadel.