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Festival's focus: women's rights


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POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

Two events in particular at this year's GiRL FeST Hawaii directly address the event's mission to prevent violence against women through education and art.

Along with tonight's soft opening that includes a show by stand-up comic Ali Wong at the University of Hawaii, a gallery opening from 5 to 7 p.m. at Waikiki's ING Direct Cafe features an art show titled “;Future”; that will unveil a Girls Court Mural, mentored by John “;Prime”; Hina of 808urban.com.

Hina, a graffiti artist whose organization teaches local youth about artistic and legal forms of graffiti, worked on the mural with the young women of Hawaii Girls Court, a program under Family Court of the First Judicial Circuit and built on strengths-based programming targeting female juvenile offenders.

“;Future”; will showcase other local female artists such as Jennifer Yoko Thorbjornsen, Kim Kinard, Kirsten Rae Simonsen, Quinn Donnelly, Shonna Hammon Glenn, Sierra Dew, Veronique Godbout, and photographers Mercy Shammah and Rita Coury.

The opening reception will be the only time that Coury's photographs of breast cancer survivors will be displayed at the cafe. The gallery wall space is part of the Waikiki online bank ING Direct, which told Coury that her five graphic photos of women in various stages of breast cancer will have to come down after tonight. (A search for an alternate venue to show her work is ongoing.)

According to an e-mail sent by Cleo Brown of ING Direct Hawaii to festival director Kathryn Xian, Coury's photos were deemed inappropriate in light of a fundraiser that will happen during the festival that will be attended by students, their parents and teachers.

Coury's e-mail response: “;If ING Direct had reviewed the photography before they offered their space for the exhibit, I would certainly have understood. It is their prerogative to select their own exhibits. But to single out my photography at the last minute because they feel it is not appropriate for all audiences and age groups is an insult to my and every woman's intelligence.

“;Breast cancer is killing women at an enormous rate. This is a very important social issue and to turn away from it makes it a moral issue. My photography is the truth in living color.”;

Among other GiRL FeST events, an expert panel presentation called “;On the FREEway to End Human Trafficking”; will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Nov. 14 at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.

Hawaii is one of eight states that has not passed a human trafficking law. The public discussion about the anti-sex-trafficking movement will include Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS, Girls Educational & Mentoring Services; Kenneth Franzblau, trafficking campaign director of Equality Now; and Sharmin Bock, deputy district attorney of Alameda County, Calif.

Among other activities:

» A match between Hawaii Pacific Roller Derby's Hulagans and the L.A. Derby Dolls from 4 to 6 p.m. tomorrow at Kamilo'iki Park in Hawaii Kai. The two teams will broach the peace later that night when they appear at the festival's opening-night party; doors open at 8 p.m.

» Sunday is set aside for a 9 a.m. surfing workshop for girls at Ala Moana Beach Park, self-defense workshops at the Diverse Art Center on Queen Street on escrima (1:30 to 2:30 p.m.) and jiu jitsu (3 to 4:30 p.m.), a B-girl workshop from 5 to 7 p.m. at the same location, and at Kakaako's Fresh Cafe, an open mic “;GiRL SLaM BaM”; from 8 to 10 p.m.

» On closing night (Nov. 14), it's the return of actress Amber Tamblyn and award-winning poet Mindy Netifee, as they perform “;Crying at the Aquarium II”; at LOFT Gallery and Lounge starting at 7:30 p.m.

Through song, prose and poetry, the duo will provide a fierce and funny take on everything from contemporary woman-ness and the economics of beauty to eco-romance and political heartbreak. Tamblyn will also read from her new book, “;Bang Ditto.”; Opening that evening will be Jocelyn Ng and Lyz Soto, both from Youth Speaks Hawaii.