The Cutting Tradition

The Cutting Tradition: Insights into female genital mutilation


    Wednesday 6 October 6pm


47 mins

Director: Nancy Durrell McKenna, John Howarth Country: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, UK
Writer: John Howarth Original Format: DVCAM
Dir. of Photography: John Howarth Print Source: Nancy Durrell McKenna
Producer: Nancy Durrell McKenna for SafeHands for Mothers
Cast: Meryl Streep (Narrator)

Film Details

UK Premiere

Short Synopsis:

Shot in: Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Egypt and Ethiopia, this film highlights the complex social, religious, cultural and economic issues which underpin the ongoing practice of FGM.


The Cutting Tradition focuses on the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM), a custom, which appears barbaric to the westernised eye but it is still practiced in many African and some Middle-Eastern countries. Despite being illegal in many of the places where it is practiced, FGM continues to be administered to very young women, often even little girls. In the majority of cases it exposes them to medical and psychological problems from which they sometimes never recover. The reasons for this find their roots in religious, cultural and historical grounds; this film comprises a balanced and non-judgemental exploration into those factors.


Natives of Burkina Faso, Egypt, Djibouti and Ethiopia express their opinions and points of view both in support and against FGM. Their authentic, undiluted statements highlight the difficulty of resolving an issue that is as deeply rooted in their cultures as it is shocking to us.


Commissioned by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, The Cutting Tradition is narrated by Meryl Streep, with footage of traditional wedding celebrations and a shocking scene which follows a young girl experiencing FGM. Streep’s narration takes us through this journey in a delicate and non-judgemental way which, coupled with the astounding direction by Nancy Durell McKenna and John Howarth, exposes the powerful reality of female genital mutilation.


All films to be screened at:

Apollo Cinema: Piccadilly Circus
19 Lower Regent Street