Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.



Beyond Belief: Documentary

Beth Murphy

On Sept 11th when their husbands lost their lives Susan Retik and Patti Quigley two ordinary soccer moms living in the affluent suburbs of Boston are confronted with tragedy and with the life of adults living in perpetual pain.

This is their story of recovery from the American tragedy of 9/11, achieved by these two women who reach out to women half a world away in Afghanistan to unite in the loss of their love ones, the men who support and keep them alive and, living in dignity with sufficient food and money to nourish the lives they bring into the world

I once went to a funeral In Brooklyn. A police officer, young man, from a working class background from which he never rose up to be other than a kid in the neighborhood. The funeral was attended by Mayor Bloomberg, a multi millionaire, probably a billionaire and I heard Mayor Bloomberg give a speech to solace the pain of the bereaved and I heard him compare himself, his life, his journey, to that of the police officer and I thought……what is this?

What is beyond belief in this documentary is a comparison of these two middle to upper class women to the poverty stricken women in Afghanistan who are totally lost, without hope, dignity, food or means for gainful employment of any sort once their husbands are gone.

The subject of this documentary  contains its fatal flaw: the attempt to elicit sympathy or interest in the  insipid American lives of wealthy women.  The technique used to tell this story feels like a home made video with snap shots strung together to create something that mean something to its  creator but little to an outsider.

Once the journey is in progress it is impossible to pity, to feel sympathy for Susan or Patti because they each have so much and the pain from the loss of their husbands enriches them as people but the pain from the loss of an Afghanistan husband depletes, destroys the afflicted woman and her children.

In short, there is no real comparison. Not for these woman, not for Mayor Bloomberg and the young police officer who left two children to be supportedf by his high school graduate wife.

Some things in this world are not equal   This film, “Beyond Belief is a painful reminder of “it’s not fair”.

WBAI Women’s collective

Beyond Belief opens February 29th


  1. Beyond Belief is a moving and beautiful film about a pair of September 11th widows who have turned their own personal tragedy into a chance to help Afghan widows thousands of miles away. This is a human story about the universality of loss, grief, and the ways in which we search for healing.

    Khaled Hosseini
    author of The Kite Runner

  2. I agree with you that the lives of the women in the film are not at all comparable to the lives of the women they are helping in Afghanistan. But I don't think the film was attempting to compare the women. Rather, the movie shows the generosity and strength of two American women who were able to see past their own grief to devote themselves to helping strangers across the world. I assume the American women would not want your pity.

  3. As a film reviewer i do not deem it my realm of responsibility to judge the character of the featured subjects or whether or not their good will work is of significance. My job is to assess the creative work on the basis of"does it work" does it have something of substance to offer" is its method of delivery, the form of the art achieved with craftsmanship worthy of note.
    On all of these counts the documentary fails.

    The blatant omission of discussion, perhaps an engagement with the Afghan women on the difference in the meaning of widowhood between them and their American "good will" ambassadors gives a questionable impression.

    What upset me most was the superfluity of emotional display and the dearth of content or substance.
    In my opinion "Beyond Belief" exemplifies the mediocrity that has kept women film makers out of the arena of serious film makers. Obviously many of you, our readrrs, do not agree.

    Please continue to post your comments. I appreciate the challenge your different points of view provoke.


  4. "beyond belief" was schlock and
    true poverty porn, not to mention
    one little facet of the greatest
    lie ever told. Many things could be
    said but in the final analysis, We
    ALL LIVE THE LIE that is amurika.
    Now the denizens of of north america
    pay through the nose for the massive
    financial payoff that followed the most
    expensive election fraud cover-up ever
    created. 11/19/2010 r.i.p. us of a