Journalist and co-director of the movie WOMAN, a beautiful testimony of 2000 women from all over on life, death, beauty, sex, children, husbands etc, www.woman-themovie.org
I dream of a society where gender doesn’t stop you at achieving anything and is not even an issue anymore. And my dream is that Woman contributes in creating this society.
Anastasia Mikova is an Uranian-born film director and journalist whose work has always focused on social and humanist topics.
Among other things, she worked as a journalist for documentaries deling with issues such a s illegal immigration, organ trafficking or surrogate mothers.
Photo copyright: Peter Lindbergh
In 2009, she became editor.in -chief of the series of documentaries “ Earth from Above “ which marked the beginning of her collaboration with Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
Then acting as first director and co-author , she continued her collaboration with Mr. Yann Arthus-Bertrand on the documentary film HUMAN managing the editorial team and making herself more than 6oo interviews of the film.
WOMAN was born of a desire to see the world through a woman’s eyes. Then the questions started to flow. What are the stages marking a woman’s passage for little girl to 80-year-old grandma? What are her dreams and hopes as well as her greatest fears and scars? What does she expect of life, society and men? What is a woman’s relationship to her body and seduction? What part do appearances and beauty play in their life? How does motherhood change her life? What do we know of female desire and why do certain cultures find it so frightening?
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences when working on your movie WOMAN, which is a beautiful applause to women of today. The movie touches something in all of us and you can't help being affected by the trauma some of the women have been though and yet, they smile and love life.
The interview can be watched in it's full length here:
Lisbeth: Which criteria did you use to select the 2.000 women?
Anastasia: The idea was to have a mix of very universal topics, such as education, work and financial independence, motherhood or relationships with more specific topics we really wanted to highlight as directors: rape as weapon of war, genital mutilations or forced marriage.
We also wanted to go and explore very intimate topics of women’s lives : sexuality, periods, and the relation women have with their body.
So each time we would go to a country, we would have a “fixer”, a woman based in that country, generally a journalist, who would help us to prepare the shooting and who would work for many months in advance.
The whole idea was to get that mix in every country: to have regular women from all paths of life and women with more specific experience. But what is interesting is that we never reduced one woman to one single topic, we asked all the questions to all the women. And sometimes a woman we came to interview about violence, ended up in the film with a story of empowerment and success!
And this what makes our project unique. We never knew what would happen during the interview and were always open and ready to be surprised.
Lisbeth: If you should pick one thing that all the women have in common, what would that be?
Anastasia: If I had to sum up our project in one word, I would say : resilience. Never have I imagined how resilient and strong women are. Sometimes it is beyond understanding. And often, these are women who have been through the most difficult staff, who are the most resilient. It is, as one of our interviewees said “as if it was in our DNA”. Life must be preparing us for the many things we’d have to overcome!
Lisbeth: What are the most important differences between women in developed and underdeveloped countries? Do women have different interests and concerns?
Anastasia: In many countries women struggle simply to survive: just to have something to eat and feed their children. In most countries of the Western world, happily, this is not the main problem anymore.
In some countries, women are married and promised to someone when they are just born and so their life is already doomed from the start. In other countries, once you get your periods, you can’t even go out any more, or continue school…so yes, obstacles are still very numerous for women in many countries of the world.
However making these interviews, I felt truly connected to all these women, beyond the barrier of language or culture, I felt we shared so much. We would cry, laugh, get angry over the same things.
What I learnt by doing these interviews is that emotions are the most universal thing and we really share the same emotions and are connected through them. I strongly felt a sense of “sisterhood” with all the women I have interviewed and I hope that all the women who will watch the film will feel the same.
Lisbeth: How you did you get the women to reveal their inner thoughts and secrets?
Anastasia: It takes time. Our interviews last for two, sometimes three hours. Because you can’t get intimate and deep in just a few questions. It was more of a therapy session than a classic interview.
Little by little the woman in front of us would get deeper and deeper inside of herself and release things she never thought she would be able to release.
Also, the way we filmed women, on the neutral background, with no context, only one light in front of you and nothing to disturb you, helped creating that atmosphere of intimacy and introspection.
Lisbeth: How do women get over Sexual harassment?
Anastasia: We have listened to hundreds of stories of harassment and more generally sexual violence. By the way, and it is a very sad thing to admit, if I had to proportionally represent all the stories of violence that we have heard, the film would be 70% based on stories of violence. But we didn’t want to reduce women to that, on the contrary we wanted to show how strong they are ! but yes, women are still facing too much violence all around the world.
And when we say that it is one women in three who faces violence during her life time, it is really something I have witnessed by doing the interviews: women CEOs, women in the army would share the same stories of sexual violence as women from the remote villages in India.
For me, we still live in a world where violence against women is too tolerated and accepted. And when some say that we now talk too much about it, I would say that we still don’t talk enough about it.
Lisbeth: How do women perceive beauty in the old age?
Anastasia: The relationship women have with their body is one of the important topics we bring up in the film. And it is very interesting to see how we are shaped right from the childhood to be beautiful and look good. It is something that has been assimilated by women all over the world !
By the way, we always told women to come to the interview exactly as they wanted, never giving any directions, and most of them came with perfect hair, nice make up and looking really pretty. And I can understand them: they wanted the interview to be a special moment and to look beautiful.
However the way women deal with aging is not the same everywhere, whereas in western countries many women struggle to accept their body and face changing, in Brazil a woman told us a very beautiful thing : “I have seen my beauty at 15, at 30 and now I can see my beauty at 60 years old, it is not the same but I’m still beautiful and happy to have lived long enough to see myself as a woman of 60 years old” I love this way of perceiving aging and hope I would be able to see things the same way when I get older.
Anastasia, again, a HUGE thank you for your time in your busy schedule between a new baby, conferences, interviews and all your other daily activities. I learned a lot from talking to you and from watching your beautiful and very emotional movie. I can only URGE everyone to see it.
Everybody in WOMEN FOR HUMANITY wishes you a lot of succes for the film and for your future projects.
If you wish to learn more about the movie, please visit their website, also in French:
Or follow Anastasia on: