Miss Braveheart

Oct 16, 2013, 01:27 IST | Kanika Sharma

Brave Miss World is a powerful film by Cecilia Peck that India needs to watch as Miss World Linor Abargil, a rape survivor opens up and reaches out to 10,000 survivors like her

Though one reads of this most of the times, but never could it be more crucial for a director and a protagonist to be on the same wavelength. When the world got to know about Linor Abargil’s becoming an Israeli beauty pageant winner in 1998, she had to withhold the truth of being violated in the most inhuman way.

Movie still from the Brave Miss World where Linor Abargil speaks with Julie C, a rape survivor in New York

Almost a decade later, Abargil journeyed to scout for a person who could empathise with her grit and simultaneously support several narratives like hers to create something unprecedented on screen.

Survive, fight…
“When I met Linor, the way she talked about being raped with no shame made a powerful impression on me. She also talked about her supportive mother who told her not to take a shower, and to go straight to the police. I was very interested in the role of the mother and how what a mother says can affect a daughter’s ability to heal and keep her self esteem,” reveals Peck.

Director Cecilia Peck and Linor Abargil
Director Cecilia Peck (in black) with Linor Abargil (in white) at Princeton University focussing on the rampant occurrence of campus rape and their lack of reportage

The filmmaker who carries on her moviemaking legacy from her father, Gregory Peck, further shares, “Linor’s concept of the film was to meet survivors from all over the world. I wanted to take a taboo subject and make an epic narrative out of it, through one woman’s fight for justice and journey to heal herself by reaching out to other women.”

Abargil opens up about how she remained courageous post rape and before being recognised as Miss World, “I think I was in denial. That was the only way to go forward at that time. I had a lot of strength during the competition because the worst thing in my life had just happened, and nothing was going to defeat me again.”

Brave Miss World

Abargil’s indefatigable spirit has led on to make survivors, including men like Jim, share their ordeals. Peck informs, “One in four women in the world will be a victims of rape, but people don’t know that one in six men will also be a victim of rape or assault. Jim was contacted by the FBI to help convict the man who raped him, a camp counsellor to young boys who turned out to be a serial rapist. Jim later became an FBI agent himself and one of the top profilers of child molesters in the United States.”

Up and down
The film has had many challenges including funding, which the team managed via the crowdfunding route. Peck stresses that the film is much more beyond a documentary just as Abargil is a riveting person extending the meaning of the title, “We hope everyone who hears of the film will visit our website, www.bravemissworld.com, to share their stories and support our plans to bring the film to every school and community in the world. Linor has used her crown in the most meaningful way, to reach out to other survivors around the world, and has given real meaning to the title of ‘Miss World’.”

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