“I will read. I will study. I will learn. If you try to stop me, I will just try harder.” This quote originates from the documentary Girl Rising. The release date was March 7th, 2013. It tells the story of nine different girls from around the world. Specifically, from Egypt, Afghanistan, Peru, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti and India. The main characters are Sokha, Wadley, Suma, Yasmin, Azmera, Ruksana, Senna, Mariama, and lastly Amina. These girls face different types of well-known injustices such as arranged marriage, child slavery, abuse, and so on. Despite this, the girls still break through with hope and courage of getting an education, because they have the opportunity to change the world and to live a better life if they do so. So therefore, the theme of this documentary is the power of education. While it exists as a documentary, it is also a global movement that fights for gender equality. The movie has a beautiful mix of fiction, animation, re-enactments, as well as real life-footage. Each story of every girl has a unique approach to their life-experiences. The movie was produced by Kayce Freed, Tom Yellin and Holly Gordon, in partnership with Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen. It was directed by Academy Award nominee Richard E. Robbins, and features narration by famous actors/actresses such as Anne Hathaway, Selena Gomez, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, and many more.
The movie was made in order to make each story seem as realistic as possible. The element of realism was clear all throughout the “fictional” documentary. This was what made it so interesting. The actresses fit nicely into their acts, as well as the settings and sceneries – it all seemed to be put together perfectly. The girl’s story that made the greatest impression on me was about Ruksana from India. She gets in trouble at school for drawing in her notebooks. She had told her father “no more trouble” multiple times before, but she can’t resist expressing her creative fantasy. Surprisingly, after telling her father why she got in trouble, he takes her to get art supplies rather than getting mad. Throughout these scenes, you don’t only see a “stereotypical” world – the girl’s fantasy takes us with her; small animations of thoughts and fictional characters are shown, and this is what makes her story happier, and not as serious as the others. Although she seems to be living a good life, it isn’t always like that; boys from the streets attack her when they observe her talent, and her family loses their home after groups of policemen rage and destroy everything when they go through the streets of slum. After this event, her parents can’t afford to pay for her education. Through all the negativity she experiences, her courageous spirit keeps on living, and she continues doing what she loves the most; painting and drawing pictures in addition to going back to school and learning new things. This was really inspiring, and that’s the reason why her story made the greatest impression on me. “One girl with courage is a revolution” is a well-known quote from the movie. Ruksana’s story is a great example of what this phrase implies; for girls with unequal rights who struggle with a lot of negativity in their life, perseverance can take them far, and they can have the ability to change the world.
Girl Rising made me more aware of how poorly so many girls live in different parts of the world today. Because of its engaging narration, fact-based statistics, and real-life experiences, I often found myself fascinated, shocked, sad and definitely lost in most of the stories. They left me with wanting to fight for girls’ and women’s rights, which is probably one of the main purposes of the film. However, it can be hard empathizing rather than sympathizing. What the girls experience, isn’t what other people, like me, experience on a daily basis. What could be eye-opening though, is to put ourselves in their shoes. At most times, it is quite difficult to relate to the girls’ lives, because, the injustices and issues they go through are so unknown for a large quatity of the world.
Throughout the film, there are many clear messages based around the idea of equality and girls’ education. Some are easier to catch than others, and some might stick to your mind for a very long time. What message I think people who are not familiar with this issue would remember the best, is most likely all the concrete statistics that are shown regularly through the documentary, because it constantly reminds us of how badly some girls live and are being treated. Statistics are something most of us rely on, and at most times come from trustworthy sources. At the same time, many or mostly all of the stories also make an impact on you as well.
In conclusion, I would recommend this movie to anyone who isn’t familiar with this issue. It is very important to emphasise it and inform people about the issue of gender inequality, which has been ongoing for so many decades. The film is most suitable for a bit older viewers, specifically from the age of 13 and up, because it might be a bit tricky for youngsters to understand the seriousness and mature meanings of different elements through the movie. The movie is not pure documentation, neither pure fiction; it is rather somewhere in between. Due to this, it makes it seem more interesting and likeable. This documentary is highly recommended for those who find interest in global issues, as well as themes such as feminism, equality and education.
“Girl Rising”. Wikipedia, last edited August 10th, 2017.
“Girl Rising Quotes”. IMDb, 2013.
Sage, Amanda. “Girl Rising hits new high for documentary filmmaking”. IMDb, published April 14th, 2014.
Seventeen Magazine. “Girl Rising plot (2013)”. IMDb.
Aunaas, Lars. “How to write a film review”. NDLA, Published August 9th, 2012. Updated March 4th, 2017.