If you have the chance to see Girl Rising, you must! A beautifully shot film about the value of educating girls, it doesn’t have a wide distribution. In fact, most of the theaters showing the film are doing so because of grassroots efforts. This, in itself, is impressive.
Girl Rising is a stunning film that follows the experiences of a handful of girls all over the world–Nepal, Peru, Haiti, Afghanistan–who fight the odds and push for an education despite social, political, or financial hardships. Many of the girls have been victims of slavery, early marriage, or natural disaster, yet they risk their lives and livelihoods to learn, sometimes in the secret hours of the night.
The showing near me was spearheaded by an active high school student who wanted her women’s empowerment club to be able to see the film. They needed at least 100 people to pre-order tickets in order to guarantee a showing, which they succeeded in doing. What a valuable concept! Gathr Films allows communities to pool together to request hard-to-locate films, some of which, like Girl Rising, are of powerful social and international significance. I would like to think that such films would not be as hard to attend in the public realm, but, unfortunately, they often are.
As far as the film itself, I was blown away. It is directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, written by renowned writers native to each of the locales, and narrated by the likes of Alicia Keys, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, Liam Neeson, and Meryl Streep. The only difficulty I had while watching the film was separating the different lenses through which I watched: those of a film critic, of a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and of a girl with wanderlust.
As a moviegoer, I kept thinking, “Look, how beautiful!” As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, I was struck by how complacent I have become with my comfortable surroundings, compared with the impressive young women of the film who fight for such basic rights. And as a girl with wanderlust, all I could think of was, “Oh, I want to see that land!” All mindsets were simultaneously stimulated and overwhelmed. Nevertheless, the film is equally as powerful from each perspective. It is as stunning in its cinematography as it is in its message, that the benefit of educating a girl far outweighs the cost, fear, and difficulty a culture might perceive as part of the process of doing so.
As I sat in the theater, I gawked at the empty seats. Why weren’t more people watching this? How do we get the word out? I know that it was a specialty screening. I understand that it was organized by a small, select group. But the film and the movement are so powerful and inspiring that I had hoped more parents, for instance, would have thought to bring their daughters. Yet, what was I doing, personally, to advertise? The film made me ache for those girls who suffer in silence, it made me proud of my own education, and it made me eager to make a difference in the lives of the girls who will follow me. It brought out the traveler in my heart as I watched girls’ experiences in Nepal, Afghanistan, and Haiti. Most importantly, it reminded me that my life is precious, that every moment is a learning opportunity, and that even the most serious of situations can have a warm, smile-inducing outcome. Girls are indeed rising. Good for us.
Check out the trailer for the film!