Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  51 minutes
Date:  2005
Genre:  Expository
Language:  Kyrgistan / English subtitles
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

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The first film about the Kyrgyz tradition of bride kidnapping takes viewers inside families, to talk with kidnapped brides who have managed to escape as well as those who are making homes with their new husbands.

Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

This is the first film to document the custom of bride kidnapping, an ancient marriage tradition in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic in Central Asia.

When a Kyrgyz man decides to marry, he often abducts the woman he has chosen. Typically, he and several friends hire a car, stake out his bride-to-be's movements, snatch her off the street, and take her to the groom's family home. A delegation is then sent to her family. The abducted woman is held until someone from her family arrives to determine whether they will accept the 'proposal' and she will agree to marry her kidnapper.

BRIDE KIDNAPPING documents in harrowing detail four such abductions, from the violent seizures on city streets and the tearful protests of the women, who are physically restrained and persuaded to accept their fate by the women of the groom's family, to the often tense negotiations between the respective families, and either the eventual acquiescence or continued refusal of the young women.

While two of the four women accept the forced marriages and later seem happy in their new relationships, one young woman fiercely resists and is finally released hours later by her captors, while the fourth kidnapping ends tragically, with the young woman dying under mysterious circumstances.

Subsequent interviews with the kidnapped brides, their families as well as their in-laws' families-sensitively conducted by the film's Kyrgyz Associate Producer, Fatima Sartbaeva-reveal both the deep cultural roots of the tradition as well as growing rejection of it in this newly independent and rapidly modernizing society, especially by young women who wish to continue their education.

Although bride kidnapping has been illegal in Kyrgyzstan since 1994, it is a law that is rarely enforced, and one in three rural ethnic Kyrgyz women have been forced into such marriages. BRIDE KIDNAPPING is a remarkably illuminating look at what will seem to most Westerners, apart from the most committed cultural relativists, as a shocking social custom but one that, at the same time, raises provocative questions about the nature of love and marriage.

'Successfully conveys the social and cultural complexity surrounding this recently revived practice... The power of this film lies in its rich visual storytelling. A persuasive and intimate profile.'-Visual Anthopology Review

'Excellent!'-Education About Asia

' * * * -1/2 [3.5 out of 4 stars!] Highly Recommended!'-Video Librarian

'Critic's Choice!'-SF Bay Guardian

'Engaging! A revealing glimpse.'-Middle East Studies Association Bulletin

'A real grabber! A model ethno-doc.'-J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

'Recommended!'-Educational Media Reviews Online

'Superb...a wonderful film.'-Anthropology Review Database


** Jury Award, 2005 United Nations Film Festival
** Opening Night Film, 2005 Margaret Mead Film Festival
** 2005 Middle Eastern Studies Association FilmFest
** 2005 American Sociological Association Film Festival
** 2005 National Women's Studies Association Film Festival
** 2005 Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs
** 2006 Middle East and Central Asia Politics, Economics, and Society Conference


Main credits

Lom, Petr (film director)

Other credits

Editors, Anatoly Sivoha, Petr Lom; music, Roma Amanova.

Distributor credits

A Film by Petr Lom

Docuseek2 subjects

Women's Studies
Rape and Sexual Abuse
Cultural Anthropology
Human Rights
Family Issues

Distributor subjects

Central Asia
Cultural Anthropology
Family Relations
Human Rights
Women's Studies


bride kidnapping ; Petr Lom; Kyrgyz; Soviet Republics; Former; Central Asia; abducts; abduction; rituals; ritual; tradition; marriages; marriage; forced; coerced; wedding; traditional; dowry; rape; mores; Women's rights; civil society; documentary; film; video; DVD; ; "Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan"; Icarus Films;

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