Private Project

A Woman has Died

A documentary about the Non-Muslim Kalasha tribe living in the Hindukush Mountains in NW Pakistan.
In the summer of 2000 a woman was found drowned in the river.
We follow the collective grief and all the common acts related to a woman’s funeral. Unlike at a man’s funeral there is no dancing and drumming. However, the songs and orations are equal
The widower is in despair and asking again and again:
”Why did you go to the river?”
Did she kill herself?
The Kalasha have a society where suicide almost never takes place.
The film was produced in 2001 at The Danish Film Institute’s Video Workshop in co-operation with Allan Nielsen and Bjørn Stephensen.

  • Birgitte Glavind Sperber
  • Birgitte Glavind Sperber
  • Det Danske Filminstitut
  • Allan S Nielsen
  • Bjørn Stephensen
  • Olof Nunez
    Assistant photographer
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    En kvinde er død
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Ethnography, Death rites, Gender
  • Runtime:
    20 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 31, 2001
  • Production Budget:
    1,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Film Festival 2001
Director Biography - Birgitte Glavind Sperber

Birgitte Glavind Sperber: Born 1942, M.Sc. in Biology and Geography from University of Copenhagen. Retired senior lecturer in Geography and Biology from University College South in Denmark.
Every year 1983-2008 and in 2018, 2019 and 2022 long stays, in total over 2½ years, among the Kalasha, a non-Muslim minority living in the Hindukush Mountains in NW Pakistan .
Education in social anthropology from Aarhus Open University. Author of books and ethnographic papers on the Kalasha.
Since 2000 shooting with a camcorder.
First film made at Danish Film Institute’s Video-workshop in Haderslev in 2001.
Since then working alone at my computer at home.
12 of my Kalasha documentaries have been selected for screening at 24 international film festivals. Two have been awarded ("The Last Honours" and "Kalasha Medicine").

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This documentary was my first one made in 2001 during a month given at the Danish Film Institute's Video-workshop in Haderslev i co-operation with their staff. At the time, subtitles were time demanding to make, so I was asked to make a voice-over instead of translating what people said. It means that the widower's talk was not given word by word but in its main content.

Was it a suicide? Village gossip had the following story:
The husband wanted to protect his wife against more pregnancies, so he started sleeping on the roof. One night, a visitor came. It became late, so he stayed over for the night. He was knows for his "sweet tongue". People had peeped through a crack in the poor hut and seen something. The woman became pregnant, not by her husband, so she killed herself in shame.