Badal, 2005

Badal, 2005

Badal is a 2005 documentary that was filmed in Israel by the director Ibtisam Mara’ana. Badal marriages are a cultural tradition where a brother and sister of one family are married to a brother and sister in another family. It should be stressed that badal marriages are of cultural rather than religious nature.

In Badal, the matchmaker attempts to arrange a badal marriage that includes a young woman who is considered too thin and undesirable for a normal match. Shadi told me that in Yemen badal marriages are also arranged to protect the safety of daughters when they marry and move from the family. The reasoning is that in a badal arrangement, if a man mistreats his wife, he is opening up his sister to the same treatment.

I first saw this excellent documentary on LinkTV. This is the description of the film on LinkTV website.

Director Ibstisam Mara’ana was predestined, like most of her relatives, to be married off through the badal, a kind of package deal in which a brother and sister from one family marry a sister and brother from another. This marriage exchange is mainly aimed at providing less marriageable daughters with a husband. Mara’ana was told that she was too old and dark, and too ugly due to a scar on her hand, and that without the godsend of the badal, she would fall by the wayside. She refused to cooperate. Instead, she made this award-winning documentary to show how women oppress women.

The film follows Mara’ana’s aunt, the deeply conservative Um Waji, and her equally traditional mother as they try to arrange a special badal for Um Waji’s eldest son, who was left a widower at a young age, and his eldest daughter. The director’s instructive and unsentimental commentary accompanies unadorned images, introducing both the older and the younger generations. The intersection of religion and gender ultimately becomes an exploration of the lives of Palestinian women living within Israel: their difficulties and struggles to be a part of their traditional society versus the quest to maintain their full rights as women and citizens of a Jewish state.

– Spirit of Freedom Award for Best Project – Jerusalem Film Festival 2004
– Best Documentary Award (Short to Mid-Length) – Hot Docs 2006
– The Award of the Mayor of Olomouc, AFO 2006
– Best Film Sole e Luna Film Festival Palermo
– The International Prize for Mediterranean Documentary, Rome


3 responses to “Badal

  1. This was very interesting, thank you for posting.

    • It is an interesting subject and Mara’ana is a skilled filmmaker. I was so intrigued I watched the documentary twice, back-to-back.

  2. What an interesting documentary, watched it with my 14 year old daughter and we learnt a lot about the lives of ordinary Palestinian woman in Israel today, thank you

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