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In the Name of the Family


On December 10, 2007, a 16-year-old Toronto schoolgirl, Aqsa, was strangled to death; her father and brother are charged with murder. Three weeks later, teenage sisters were shot to death in Dallas; their father fled the country and is still wanted for murder. Six months later a 19-year-old college student was stabbed by her brother; he was convicted and is now in jail in New York.
While Muslim women organize to help girls at risk and local imams teach that violence has no basis in Islam, some men continue to justify these crimes through patriarchal beliefs about family honor.


  • In the Name of the Family offers a devastating look at the phenomenon of so-called honour killings. Without sensationalism, the film takes us inside these families and provides a heart-breaking portrayal of girlhood innocence and male cruelty, while unraveling the tricky cultural issues behind the crimes. What’s most chilling is to listen to the men defend their “honour”—the imprisoned brother of the New York girl blaming her for ruining his life
  • A haunting documentary …a tender but fierce expose
  • Saywell’s documentary examines the rise of so-called honour killings in South Asian and Middle Eastern immigrant families as children get caught in the cultural divide between East and West. Careful to avoid religious and cultural stereotypes, it doesn’t delve into the disturbed minds of the killers. It simply tells the heartbreaking stories of these young immigrant girls
  • Compelling …Shelley Saywell's often-heartbreaking doc explores the often-complex relationship between Muslim fathers and daughters.
  • Riveting …director, Shelley Saywell, is a gifted filmmaker whose work has been acclaimed around the world. Her specialty is venturing into places where others fear to tread – and she found this particular place right here in Canada.
  • Chilling …In the Name of the Family, focuses on a secretive world with its own rules and punishments, which go beyond any country or religion but are based on the belief that a woman's sexuality is a commodity to be closely controlled by male relatives.

Festival Participation

  • HotDocs Film Festival, Canada - 2010
    Best Canadian Feature
  • International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2010
  • Cleveland International Film Festival - 2010
  • One World Film Festival, Prague - 2010
  • Toronto Human Rights Watch Festival - 2010

Additional Materials

Distribution Company

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