Winner 2018

Independent Lens: THE JUDGE

The Judge is a co-production of Three Judges LLC, Idle Wild Films Inc., and Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Filmmaker Erika Cohn chronicles the day-to-day challenges of the Middle East’s first female Sharia law judge in the illuminating and dynamic documentary, Independent Lens: The Judge. The cinema vérité production offers a rare glimpse into an oft-misunderstood culture and faith as it follows judge Kholoud Faqih through her daily adjudication duties in Palestine’s Islamic Court of Law. Though Cohn shot her film entirely on the West Bank and in the center of a disputed hot zone, The Judge offers a very different take on Mideast conflict. Faqih oversees domestic and family law, so the subjects at war here are separated couples, single moms, sparring brothers, and the occasional deadbeat dad. The wonderfully unremarkable cases take Westerners into a slice of Arab life that’s all-too humanizing while Faqih’s dynamic personality and sense of humor add palpable energy to this unique and diverse narrative. The camera is there as she gets ready for work by slipping her magistrate’s robe over her hijab, when she battles the institutional bias of a patriarchal system, and even when she’s playing with her kids or visiting her father’s farm. By deconstructing Sharia law through the eyes of a strong Muslim woman, and demystifying the fallacies around both subjects, The Judge sets itself apart with a Peabody Award.


Executive Producer(s): Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen, Geralyn Dreyfous, Diana Lady Dougan, Barbara Dobkin, Patty Quillin. Producer: Erika Cohn. Co-Producer(s): Jennifer Jordan, Sara Maamouri, Amber Fares, Mark Lipson. Associate Producer(s): Nicole Docta, Natasha Atalla. Director: Erika Cohn. Photography: Mashal Kawasmi. Cinematography: Amber Fares. Sound/Music: Omar Fadel. Editor(s): Sara Maamouri, Ken Schneider. Supervising Producer: Michael Kinomoto.