The documentary Girl Rising -- the title evokes uprising -- mixes urgency with great storytelling appeal. The latest moment of the feminist revolution is not about debating issues of women's equality in the workplace. It is about changing the world one girl at a time through education.
Coming just after the recent PBS series, MAKERS, a history of the recent phase of the Women's Movement in America in all its diversity, Girl Rising asks the question, how do we nurture girls to become "makers" of their own destiny? Taking its agenda global, Girl Rising addresses the dire subjects of girls' vulnerability -- to poverty, human trafficking, bonding which is a form of slavery, child marriage, and assassination for the simple desire to go to school.
Filmmakers took the stories of nine girls, had them told by writers of their region, and voiced by well-known actresses: Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Kerry Washington, Salma Hayak, Alicia Keys, Priyanka Chopra, Chloe Moretz, and Meryl Streep among them. Freida Pinto, who played a young girl who attends a school for girls in Miral, Julian Schnabel's feature of Rula Jebreal's novel, is also featured. While none attended the premiere last Wednesday at the Paris Theater, and dinner at Tao, the night was a boisterous celebration for the film, its director Richard E. Robbins, and 10x10 Campaign organizing 550 events in 93 countries on seven continents to help raise awareness around educating girls, on the eve of International Women's Day.
Allison Williams (of Girls), Julie Taymor, Leslie Stahl, Connie Chung, Jeff Zucker, and many others watched the compelling stories: One of the nine girls is Wadley, excellent at school in her Haitian village, until the earthquake made it impossible for her to attend. Now homeless, her mother could not afford to pay. As told by novelist Edwige Dandicat, Wadley went to school anyway. No one could keep her away. She simply staged her own act of civil disobedience. Similarly, each girl transcends a likely misery through education. Robbins said when he introduced the girls to each other, they "understood inherently that what we were doing wasn't just about them: it was about all girls."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.
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