Rough Aunties

Director: Kim Longinotto

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival


Jackie, Mildred, Eureka, Sdudla, and Thuli are the women behind Bobbi Bear, a nonprofit organization based in Durban, South Africa, that counsels sexually abused children and works to bring their abusers to justice. Born out of a recognition of cultural stigmas that discourage reporting abuse and inadequate methods of communicating with young victims, Bobbi Bear developed a method of letting children use teddy bears to explain their abuse. Since 1992, the multiracial staff has become the fearless and powerful voice for those victims who would otherwise continue to live in fear, powerless against their oppressors and ignored by the legal system.

Director Kim Longinotto (The Day I Will Never Forget screened at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival) adeptly and intimately follows Bobbi Bear staff in difficult direct sessions with children and consultations with family members, and on raids with authorities to arrest the perpetrators of these heinous acts. Facing tragedy daily as part of their advocacy work and, heartbreakingly for some, in their personal lives, the women draw strength from each other and find hope despite the suffering around them.

Equally as compassionate to the young victims as they are steadfast in their pursuit of justice, these five exceptional women have found themselves transformed by their mission into "rough aunties," crossing barriers of race, culture, and socioeconomic status to become formidable agents of change in their community.

— Basil Tsiokos

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards


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