THE WORLD BEFORE HER directed by Nisha Pahuja. A KinoSmith release. 90 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (November 9). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNNNN
In this brilliant study of women's choices in modern India - which won best documentary feature at Tribeca and best Canadian feature at 2012's Hot Docs - two vastly different movements claim to promote female empowerment. One is the Miss India pageant, the other the women's branch of militant fundamentalist Hinduism.
Pahuja got unprecedented access to both. Backstage at the pageant, young women who yearn for stardom go through the paces of objectification. The Hindu militants will eventually marry and make meals for their husbands, but right now they're learning to use guns and to hate Christians and Muslims.
The women in both movements are not unsophisticated. The beauty contestants are intelligent, working hard to earn income for their families. And the passionate leader of the militant youth movement - a latent lesbian if I ever saw one - knows she's not exactly fitting in.
A knockout. Don't miss it.