Jeanny Gering – Power
By: Ruth Hill
Power is a short documentary by Jeanny Gering that features Debi Steven, Martial Arts champion and self-defense teacher from London who is on a mission. After the Delhi gang rape in 2012, she founded the organization Action Breaks Silence to teach women and girls in India self-defense. Following her work and meeting the women and girls in Debi’s training, the film explores what it is like to be a woman in India today. In essence, this film is about the right of every girl and woman to live a life without fear. I was very honored to speak with Jeanny recently about her film and get a little more insight into her purpose in making it.
What inspired you to make this documentary?
In 2012, there was a horrible incident that happened in New Delhi, India–the gang rape of a young girl. I followed the case and, coincidentally, I met Debi Stevens who is the main character in my documentary. She founded an organization Action Breaks Silence, dedicated to teaching women self-defense. She was going off to India and she asked if I wanted to come along to see her work. To me, that was the key to the story. I already had been working as a journalist. Because I was based in Berlin at that point, I didn’t know how to support everything going on in India. Debi gave me the inspiration to go with her and see what it was like. It was my chance to get to see what had happened after the terrible incident and see how women were feeling about it. The inspiration came because I felt very close to the country of India, but I also wanted to find out about Debi’s work and document it.
Having been to India, I know that it is a very patriarchal and chauvinistic country, but I feel very close to it and what happened there. It is also a very stunning and incredibly interesting country. And this gang rape showed many of the problems that are very deep inside the society of India. I got very interested in it as a journalist and as a woman.
What awards did you receive for it?
I am pleased to say that this is my first independent documentary. I entered my film in the Artemis Film Festival last year and it received Best Short Documentary for 2015. So, they decided to rerun it this year at the festival. In addition to this festival, it went to the international film festival in Indonesia, India and other places around the world and won other awards.
What are your current/future plans for this documentary?
With this film, it has reached its cycle with me. I have published it on a platform so that it is available to everyone who would like to see it and that is important to me. Any girl, boy, man or woman who wants to see it will be able to. As for Debi’s work, she is spreading it beyond India. She is now in South Africa doing her work there. We are still in touch and good friends. Maybe one day I will do another documentary about her work and issues related to her work. But at the moment, I am not planning anything.
Can you elaborate more on Debbie’s work she is doing and its importance?
She was raped herself when she was eleven years old and she had to live with that until she was in her 20’s. Only then did she talk about it for the first time. She went on to become a highly awarded martial artist, especially in karate. Three years ago, she founded her organization Action Breaks Silence because of what happened to her and in India, too. She teaches self-defense to women and girls. She does these workshops for all kinds of women and girls. It could be a school, police women, mothers–anyone she can reach. And she also trains people in India to continue her work when she is gone. Her organization is all donation-based. It’s really her mission because I think it is one way she is dealing with what happened to her in order to try to stop the same thing from happening to other girls and women. In watching the film, you will get a sense of how empowering it is. It empowers women who don’t feel strong enough to fight back to actually be able to fight back. And that goes for any woman. I watched those workshops and when I was filming them, in the beginning I wondered how this really was going to help. But actually sitting through a lot of these workshops, I realized that I didn’t know if I would have the guts to step out and defend myself like that just because it’s inbuilt in us and any women that we are taught to be the weaker sex–even in the West. Even if we have great fathers and great brothers who don’t talk like that.
After filming this, I believe that every woman should take a self-defense course. The work that Debi does in her workshops is definitely not martial arts. It is really about finding the will power in you to fight back and have the guts to fight back. It’s all about giving the girls the feeling that they are strong enough to escape. You have to cause pain. [laughs] You cause pain and then run.
Do you have any other projects in the works that you can mention?
Right now, I am working on other projects. I’m based in Germany and one of the topics is the refugee crisis. I am working on a project related to that in a refugee camp here and it’s at the very early stages in the project. I am also producing and shooting news pieces for other news networks.
Personally, I think it is fantastic that this film is returning to the Artemis Film Festival, as I didn’t see it, nor did I even know about the film festival last year. Jeanny’s heart is clearly to empower the women of this world and let them know they do not need to be victims. Be sure to check out all the following links for your opportunity to see this amazing film, but as for me, I will be in attendance on April 24 for a film that may just inspire and challenge me as I see the work of a woman who has turned her hardship into a triumph.
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Watch “Power” for yourself: