BYDGOSZCZ, Poland — Brit documentarian Kim Longinotto, recognized Saturday at Poland’s Camerimage fest for outstanding achievement in the genre, has broken through cultural barriers and faced down threats from angry patriarchs in her four decades of chronicling marginalized — and often abused — women.
Having launched her career exposing random institutional cruelties at the English girls’ school where she was virtually held prisoner, Longinotto has been drawn to stories of women fighting back against coercion, female genital mutilation and forced marriage as auds have found in films such as 2009 Sundance winner “Rough Aunties,” “The Day I Will Never Forget” and last year’s “Salma.”
Her upcoming project “Dreamcatcher,” chronicling the battles of a former West Side Chicago prostitute and addict to help other vulnerable inner-city girls avoid that fate, has opened up new horizons for the director.
The film was passed over by U.K. broadcasters BBC and ITV, after which the U.S. producer of the groundbreaking Chicago docu “The Interruptors,” Teddy Leifer, and Impact Partners stepped up to back the project, bringing in foundations, Longinotto says.
It then pre-sold to Showtime, earning back the investment. The private finance model could well work again, says the respected helmer, who found that even after courting her for some time, the BBC in the end opted not to take on “another film about prostitutes.”
A tribute to her work at Camerimage is screening nine docus, covering the span from 1976’s “Pride of Place,” via 1998’s “Divorce Iranian Style,” up to her new survey of 20th-century romance, “Love Is All: 100 Years of Love & Courtship.”
Being celebrated at a fest focused on cinematography is gratifying, Longinotto says, because she’s rarely commended for the remarkable run-and-gun camera-work in her self-shot films. “This will be the first time I talk about the camera,” she says. “I was really pleased.”
In typical self-effacing style, Longinotto confesses she shot “Dreamcatcher” but didn’t list herself as cinematographer because she was “trying to keep the credits really short.”