'Women-only' exhibition opens

Last updated 16:40 08/09/2012

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A controversial short film which gives a "peek behind the burka" has opened in Wellington today.

Though the three-minute-film sparked a flurry of outrage over its women-only policy, the controversy that has surrounded it was not evident when Cinderazahd: For Your Eyes Only opened at the Dowse Museum today.

The film was part of a larger exhibition, In Spite of Ourselves: Approaching Documentary.

Today marked the world-wide premiere of Sophia Al-Maria's movie. However, as it shows Muslim women without their hijabs or veils men weren't allowed inside to watch.
The no-men policy was what the women featured in the short clip wanted, what the film-maker wanted and what the gallery agreed to.

However, the segregation has outraged some people, with Wellington man Paul Young calling the move "inflammatory and provocative", and discriminatory against half the population.

Young even suggested men may attempt to get in without permission. The gallery said no one had made any such attempts today and that males still had more than 100 other pieces in the exhibition they could view.

"There's a public perception that this is a show for women, but it's just one work out of 100," said Dowse director Cam McCracken, who has not seen the work.

"This work gives us another view, which we don't usually see, if ever. What we usually see are stereotypes and negativities and this is a very positive and atypical view."

So while men checked out what else the exhibition had to offer, their partners and wives lined up to have a glimpse of something the Western world never gets to see.

The women and their children are depicted with their faces revealed, hair out and with make-up on.

They're seen squeezing into their dresses, talking openly about their bodies, and coating themselves in a glistening body lotion as they prepare for a wedding.

Lower Hutt mother Megan Thickett, whose husband waited outside while she viewed the film, said she attended today after hearing it on the radio.

"I was interested because there was a bit of negativity about it and I didn't think it was warranted...I thought we should support it instead."

The exhibition runs until December 2.

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