Cause of Death

  • Jyoti Mistry
  • Austria, South Africa
  • 2020
  • 20 min
  • Dutch Premiere
  • Paradocs

A timeless and universal phenomenon: violence against women and femicide. Women are beaten, drowned, hanged, burned, or stoned. The detached tone of autopsy reports stating the causes of death makes them no less vivid: skull base fracture, carbon monoxide poisoning, cardiac arrest, suffocation, ruptured organs.

The South African filmmaker, artist, and film theorist Jyoti Mistry expresses her thoughts on the subject through archive material, mainly dating from the first three decades of the last century (from Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam). Countless women pass by on the screen in a montage that is almost hypnotic: dancing in a group, working in a factory or on the land, looking after children, doing the dishes, balancing on a circus ball, or concentrating on gymnastic exercises. Can we make out a pattern?

The violence is suggested in short, unrelenting animations that are intertwined or merge with the archive footage. In the background we hear a lament in spoken-word poetry: “Cause of death is woman.”


  • 20 min
  • black and white
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Afrikaans, English
  • Subtitles in: No dialogue
Jyoti Mistry
Florian Schattauer
Nikki Comninos
Peter Cornell
Napo Masheane

IDFA history

Dutch Premiere

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IDFA history

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