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Ketchum Photographer Zooms Past the Landscape to Causes of Humanity
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Sunday, January 17, 2016
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Stephanie Freid-Perenchio has traveled the globe, canvassing Africa, the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia in search of causes to turn her camera lens on.

In the process, she has given voice to Navy SEALS, who do not speak themselves of their sacrifice, and Afghanistan mothers and children impacted by war. And now she is being drawn to the majesty and social connectedness of elephants endangered by the illegal ivory trade.

A few years ago, Perenchio was drawn to another type of lens—the film camera with which documentary filmmakers have told stories of Congolese children kidnapped to become child soldiers and of a Pakistani doctor who repaired the faces of women who have had acid thrown on their faces for refusing marriage proposals.

Her realization of the power of those stories led her to join Peggy Goldwyn as co-chair of the Family of Woman Film Festival. The festival will kick off this year with a free showing of a film on Feb. 22, followed by lectures and additional film screenings through Feb. 28.

The window that opened to her via her involvement in the film festival will open even wider this year when one of the female photographers Perenchio has come to admire most comes to Sun Valley as a featured speaker.

Pulitzer Prize-winning human rights photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair will speak at a POV (Point of View) breakfast for patrons of the festival on Friday, Feb. 26, at the Knob Hill Inn.

And she will show some of her work at a week-long exhibit at Friesen Gallery in conjunction with the Film Festival. Sinclair will attend a reception in her honor from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, and talk about her work with young Kenyan girls who are using cameras donated by Canon to document their lives.

 “She’s been one of the few women photographers in the world that I’ve admired for a very long time,” said Perenchio, who will be meeting Sinclair for the first time. “She has the ability to capture the emotions of the stories she’s working on. And that emotional connectedness  between her and her subjects resonates with me as a photographer.”

In addition, Sinclair has done work with UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), which works for wanted pregnancies, safe childbirth, Perenchio noted. “And I wanted to bring the art of storytelling to the festival and she’s a perfect fit.”

Sinclair, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Time Magazine and National Geographic, has spent the past eight years documenting child brides in Afghanistan, Nepal, Ethiopia, India and Yemen who have been married between the ages of 9 and 13 to much older men. Some burned themselves as a cry for help.

She also made a short documentary, “Too Young to Wed,” about an Ethiopian girl married at age 11.

“She’s started a foundation to raise money to raise awareness and stop the practice,” said Perenchio. “It’s a hard subject matter. Americans are not tribal so we don’t understand why girls would be married off while still children.”

Perenchio thinks Sinclair will be inspired by the women in this valley, just as she believes Sinclair will inspire them.

“Even as I’m inspired by Stephanie, I am also inspired every day by the women in this valley. We’re all trying to make a difference.”

Perenchio was inspired by Peggy Goldwyn when she stepped up to host dinners and receptions for the filmmakers who came to be part of the film festival that Goldwyn started nine years ago.

When Goldwyn confided that she wanted to take the festival to the next level, Perenchio stepped up, creating the Bonnie Curran Memorial Lecture for the Health and Dignity of Women and the POV breakfasts for financial contributors.

“It’s because of her that we moved to the Sun Valley Opera House,” said Goldwyn. “It’s because of her that we started the breakfasts. It’s because of her that we started thinking bigger.”

Perenchio says the Film Festival owes much to the people of the valley, as well: “You can have great minds come together to try to create something great, but if the people in the community are not supportive it doesn’t do much good. One thing I’ve noticed about this community since day one when I moved here is how much this community rallies in support of people and causes.”

“When a story affects you, I don’t think you as an individual can walk away and not do anything,” she added. “At the very least, you’ll tell another person what you learned. And you might even ask how you can get more involved to be part of the change you would like to see.”

One film that spurred many viewers to action was “The Invisible War,” which exposed the epidemic of rape in the U.S. military.

Many Sun Valley residents contacted high ranking military friends, urging them to view the film and attend Senate hearings.

“Every year people connect with at least one of the films or subject matters, providing an outpouring of financial and other support,” said Perenchio. “We even had people from this community go to Barefoot College (which teaches impoverished women skills) to check it out.”

The ideas for the Bonnie Curran lecture and the breakfast breakouts came from Perenchio’s own love for think tanks. She has started two of them, bringing in experts to talk about international policy and “women under the radar” to small groups of about 50 people.

“Last year a lot of conversation took place after the Film Festival, which is very positive for all of us. And the level of films and filmmakers coming to this year’s festival is very powerful,” she said. “Next year is our 10 anniversary. We’re already working on it and we’re going to surprise everyone.”

THIS YEAR’S FAMILY OF WOMAN FILM FESTIVAL

This year’s films will include two American films—one focusing on sexual assaults on college campuses, and the other about a former Chicago prostitute who started a foundation to help prostitutes get off the streets.

The other films will focus on the well-publicized murder of a young woman on a bus in Delhi that led to uprisings in India and an Eritrean journalist, whose cell phone provides a lifeline for desperate refugees.

Monday, Feb. 22, 6 p.m. Free screening of “No Woman, No Cry” by supermodel Christy Turlington-Burns at Ketchum’s Community Library.

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 6:30 p.m. Free Bonnie Curran Memorial Lecture for the Health and Dignity of Women at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

Thursday, Feb. 25, 7 p.m. “The Sound of Torture” at the Sun Valley Opera House.

Thursday, Feb. 25, 8:30 a.m. Point of View (POV) Breakfast for donors of $500 or more, featuring Sarah Costa, executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission.

Friday, Feb. 26, 8:30 a.m. POV Breakfast featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning human rights photographer Stephanie Sinclair.

Friday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m. “The Hunting Ground” at the Sun Valley Opera House.

Saturday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m. “India’s Daughter” at the Sun Valley Opera House.

Sunday, Feb. 28, 2 p.m. “Speed Sisters” at the Sun Valley Opera House.

Visit www.familyofwomanfilmfestival.org for more information.

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