(I am calling this a reaction and not a review because I am not necessarily talking about how the film was made and cinematography and more talking about what I walked away with from watching this movie)
So last night David and I went to see a screening of the documentary Girl Rising. My sister is the one who made us aware of the screening, I had actually not heard of it before. We watched the preview and the movie looked interesting. It is a documentary looking at girls in a variety of countries who are trying, against all the odds, to get an education. I have heard about the struggles for women to get an education, but it was so great to be able to see the story of the individual.
Now the one thing that I initially feared about the movie is the idea that you have a bunch of westerners coming in and filming these girls to make this documentary. There is fear of exploiting these young girls situations and is always a fine line. The way Girl Rising decided to tell the story is just amazing and I think is a great example of how to tell stories in other countries.
Telling the Story
The film was put together by an organization called 10×10 in collaboration with a bunch of non-profit and for profit organizations. So they worked with organizations who were already in each of the countries that the girls are from. Instead of swooping in, they worked with established organizations who were already working with the girls on some level and have a connection to the community. This is already such a great step because it is not just picking a child up off the street and telling a story and then abandoning them back to the world.
The best part of the storytelling aspect is the fact that not only did they work with organizations that have a long time relationship with the country, but they had the girls sit down with a local writer and they worked together to tell the story. It is not someone interpreting the girl’s story, it is the girls working with someone to help them tell their story. Some of the parts are exaggerated to highlight the important points of the girls story, but in a lot of ways it is how the girls view their own stories.
The other thing that is great is because the stories are written out and scripted they got the girls to star in their own stories. Each segment was slightly different and really highlighted the differences in the cultures and the struggles these girls face to get an education. There were only two girls who could not show their face on film out of fear for their lives (Yazmin from Cairo and Anima from Afghanistan).
My Favorite Moments
So I do not want to go into too much detail about the individual stories because there is no replacement to seeing the stories told. I do want to highlight some of my favorite moments. These moments or themes just really stood out to me in the documentary.
Girls fighting against the limits in their country to go to school
This is interesting when we think about how many kids in America that complain about going to school and you see these beautiful children who find their happiness in school. One of the little girl’s smiles when she talks about going to school is heartbreaking.
Seeing people in the country fight for the children
In a couple of the stories their were local social workers, teachers, or family members who stood up and said that these girls getting an education is important. This is so hopeful to see because sometimes it can feel as though the struggle is never ending, but if those who are actually from that country are fighting for the girls then that is a great start.
A girl named after Xena the Warrior Princess
So this is giving a way a small bit of one of the stories, but it is too good not to share. Her father saw Xena on the tv and decided to name is daughter after her because he wanted her to be a strong warrior princess.
A girl making herself a superhero
Now this story was so sad and is so heartbreaking, but you need to watch it. The girl tells the story of herself as a superhero in order to deal with the real situation. In some ways it is probably not dealing with the actual situation, but seeing this girl find power in being a superhero just shows how important stories like that can be to empowering young girls.
Call to Action at the End
So this is not one of the stories, but it was great to see a documentary that is talking about such an important international issue giving you information for how you can help.
In conclusion you should see Girl Rising. It is an amazing story that I think shows how a documentary like this should be done. The stories make you want to help in some way. Donating to some of the non-profits involved and sharing information about the documentary so more people will become aware of this important issue. Education is the backbone of society. Many studies have shown that better education, lowers crime, creates better economies, and more sustainable population because people will usually have less children and wait longer to have children. Most importantly women who have been educated are more likely to educate their children. It empowers these women to make a difference in their countries.
For more information on the film go to www.girlrising.com