Collaboration and community partnerships are central to the missions of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta. So when the opportunity arose for our two organizations to work together to coordinate a program to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it gave us the chance to expand our engagement throughout the Jewish and secular communities.
The resulting program was a resounding success, with more than 200 people attending an encore screening of a 2014 AJFF documentary feature, “Brave Miss World,” whose 1998 themes are equally relevant today. A portion of ticket sales went to promote sexual assault prevention.
The movie tells the story of Linor Abargil, who as an 18-year-old was stabbed and raped while working as a model in Milan, Italy. Seven weeks later she was crowned Miss World 1998, a first for Israel. The trauma led Abargil to confront her past and break through the silence and shame experienced by other survivors. She became a powerful advocate for other victims of sexual assault, sharing her story and encouraging others to speak out.
The documentary was originally chosen by AJFF because of its mission of using cinema as an educational tool to spark conversation by sharing global, impactful stories that resonate with audiences long after the credits roll. The annual festival allows AJFF to explore a limited number of these powerful narratives during its three-week period, but partnering with like-minded organizations in year-round programs affords AJFF the chance to delve deeper into significant topics and engage with audiences on an ongoing basis.
Empowering and inspiring, “Brave Miss World” explores both the trauma of sexual assault and the possibility of healing through one woman’s journey from anguish to activism. After the film, a panel of experts, including survivor Jessica Caldas, lawyer Esther Panitch and therapist Judy Spira, engaged in a question-and-answer session moderated by Univision anchor Mariela Romero.
Of particular interest to the audience was the issue of engaging men in the effort to prevent sexual assault, including discussing consent with college students.
JWFA works year-round to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence through grant-funded programs locally and in Israel. JWFA’s grantee partners work with young men and women in high school and college to empower them to be active, not just bystanders, and to recognize early signs of potential abuse.
As a result of JWFA funding, projects are being implemented at the Weber School, Emory University and the University of Georgia. Programs are designed with a special focus on prevention and engaging men as allies in the work to move the needle on women’s issues.
JWFA imagines a world in which all women and girls in the Jewish community are ensured a healthy and supportive environment, a world in which we all have equal opportunity for economic, religious, social and political achievement.
JWFA endeavors to make this world a reality by providing education on vital issues, funding innovative programs, engaging in advocacy, and encouraging donors to view all philanthropic giving through a Jewish and gender lens. In addition to preventing violence against women, JWFA is committed to promoting leadership development, economic justice, educational advancement and legal security.
This event was especially successful because of the many community partners that took an active role: Congregation Dor Tamid Sisterhood, Hadassah Greater Atlanta, International Women’s House, Jewish Family & Career Services, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Women’s Philanthropy, Jewish Women International, Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah, National Council of Jewish Women, Partnership Against Domestic Violence, Temple Kehillat Chaim Sisterhood, Temple Kol Emeth Women of Reform Judaism, Temple Sinai and The Temple.
Both AJFF and JWFA are committed to raising awareness and promoting social change and to creating experiences that bring our community together for dialogue and understanding. We are proud of our collaboration and hope that it serves as a model for other organizations whose purposes may align, affording them similar chances to engage and work in partnership.