Neodza Penelopa, Tadjikistan, 2006, 26 min, Beta SP, Gender
The documentary brings us to today's Tajikistan, which, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, suffers from economic crisis. One third of the population is unemployed; most people in the rural areas live under intolerable conditions. Men abandon the country for many years to work abroad doing mostly inferior jobs for inadequate pay, leaving their wives at home to fight for their survival and the survival of their families, until the husbands earn enough money to come back. For many women the situation is so hopeless that they are forced to enter into new, polygamous marriages. The picture of women fighting for the existence of their families, impatiently looking out for their husbands to come back and lessen their worries, reminds one of Penelope waiting for Ulysses to return from his voyages. The documentary links today's poverty in Tajikistan with this old Greek legend. The depth of the film is enhanced by the fact that the director presents the issue entirely: he shows both the hard working conditions of the men and the difficult fate of the women.