TIFF 2015 Review: A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers
A Journey of Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers follows three Bangladeshi policewomen as they join a unit of 160 women traveling to Haiti for a UN mission. The women, many of them Muslim, counter societal norms and the wishes of their families by working as female police officers in Bangladesh. Traveling to Haiti for full a year-long peacekeeping mission has these women challenging gender norms even further.
The group arrives in Haiti poorly trained and unprepared to be thrown into a volatile situation. Despite the intrigue of the mission, the film is at its most compelling when in the middle-class homes of Bangladeshis, exploring the customs around women and their role in society. As these women defy stereotypes on the ground in Haiti, the film intersects snippets of the lives they have temporarily left behind. Their young children, growing quickly, and their husbands, with a varying degree of understanding and support, anxiously await their return.
The film documents their lives in and out of uniform and the difference between these women, depending on whether they are on or off duty, is quite stark. In Haiti, there is no off-duty, leaving these women far more in touch with the policewoman version of themselves, making their eventual reintegration a real challenge.
There is no glory or “mission accomplished” here but one woman’s young son saying he wants to grow up to be a police officer like his mother is perhaps a more important indicator of success.