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Fatima would sometimes tell our subjects, "Don't worry about him," referring to me, "he doesn't speak Kyrgyz, he doesn't understand anything, you can tell me whatever you want. How did you find and get access to the women featured in the film?Typically during a bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, the female relatives of both the kidnapped woman and the expectant groom attempt to subdue the future bride and place the marriage headscarf upon her. I had made friends in one village, which used to be called Marx and which has been renamed to Muddy Field since the post-Communist transition.I know you've made other trips to Kyrgyzstan before this one for your documentary on bride kidnapping. The only real resistance we found was with one family.
The most recent scholarly studies find that about a third of ethnic Kyrgyz marriages result from nonconsensual bride kidnapping.
I would not have been able to speak to Kyrgyz women alone in the same way -- or even at all -- without Fatima. I first met Fatima in 2001 on a recruiting trip at her university, the American University in Bishkek. She had just graduated from university when I came to Kyrgyzstan this fall and was, luckily, free, so I hired her to work as my assistant. She grew up in a small town in Kyrgyzstan, started learning English at only 16 and managed to get acceptance to the American University in Kyrgyzstan. Her mother was initially against Fatima's marriage -- she was afraid Fatima would leave for the United States, and she would have preferred that she marry a local boy from her own village.