Capturing the Essence of WGLG

For the past year, Women and Girls Lead Global has been screening films for communities of farmers, educators, politicians and schoolchildren across the five countries where we work – Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Peru and Jordan.  For many audience members, it’s the first time they’ve seen films about real girls and women triumphing over adversity.  It’s also often the first time they’ve had a chance to discuss issues like child marriage and public safety for girls and women.

Below, we’ve compiled some of our favorite audience responses from our first season of Women of the World films. Their comments suggest the very idea that inspired WGLG: that documentary film has the power to move, inspire and empower people, and to begin the process of catalyzing change.

Thembi

She introduced herself to the world with something she called her HIV prayer. “Hello, HIV, you trespasser”. Young and beautiful, Thembi emerged from the shantytowns of South Africa on a mission to take on HIV. She traveled the world, met Barack Obama and spoke to congress. During her short life Thembi lived strong and proud, she welcomed the world into her life with open arms, her words giving hope to millions; this heartrending documentary takes you on her incredible journey.

Six Days

Three women. Three wars. One dream. A universal story of women’s courage and survival in the aftermath of war.

Lanja is a journalist in Iraq, fearlessly giving refuge and voice to women beaten, burnt and threatened to death by their own families. Maia fights for women’s sexual rights in the breakaway region Abkhazia, Georgia and battles archaic customs like “bride kidnapping.” Nelly runs a women’s cooperative in the slums of Monrovia, Liberia, empowering women through education and hands-on ways to make money for their families.

While thousands of miles apart, the women are united by similar challenges to fulfilling their shared dream of a better life.

Salma

Internationally-acclaimed, multiple-award winning filmmaker Kim Longinotto (Rough Aunties, World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentary, Sundance 2009) returns with Salma — the extraordinary story of a woman who becomes the legendary activist, politician, poet, Salma.

For nine years, until she agreed to an arranged marriage, Salma was trapped first by her family and then again by her husband – physically locked away, unable to continue her education and forced to write her passionate words secretly. Only Salma’s anger and determination kept her focused on obtaining her freedom. When Salma’s visceral poems reached a publisher, their frank and open observations about her own sexuality, her forced marriage and her village’s customs made her an overnight sensation, much to the displeasure of her family and village. Pushed into running in an election as a village leader by her husband, Salma unexpectedly is elected and becomes the voice for women also imprisoned by the same fate. Her legendary refusal to follow traditional Muslim customs and her outspokenness about the treatment of village women secure her status as a true rebel in the face of an ancient and brutal tradition.

Crafted as a slowly unfolding detective story, Longinotto carefully peels past the layers of contradictions that define Salma — an engaged, contributing protagonist whose emerging voice loudly soars above the “knots and ties of love” used to imprison the female heart and soul.

Miss Nikki & the Tiger Girls

Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls is an intimate portrait of a spirited young Australian band manager as she tries to empower Myanmar’s first all girl band to speak out in one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

“I don’t know if I’m helping or hindering them. But once you’ve encouraged someone to find their voice, you can’t just expect them to shut back up again can you?” The film follows the quest of one idealistic ex-pat and five starry-eyed Myanmar girls who are fighting for their right to sing in a country where freedom of speech carries enormous risk.

The Tiger Girls have emerged at a sensitive time in Myanmar’s history. After their first election in two decades and the recent release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a mood for change exists. There are obvious parallels between the destiny of the country and the destiny of the band. Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls is a powerful metaphor of a country on the brink of change. It explores freedom of expression, censorship, art vs. fame, and the ripple effect of empowering the voiceless through music.

Forbidden Voices

Their voices are suppressed, prohibited, and censored. But world-famous bloggers Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan, and Farnaz Seifi are not frightened of their dictatorial regimes. These fearless women stand for a new, networked generation of modern rebels. In Cuba, China, and Iran their blogs shake the foundations of the state information monopoly – putting their lives at great risk.

Barbara Miller’s film, Forbidden Voices, accompanies these brave young rebels on their dangerous journey and traces their use of social media like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to denounce and combat the violations of human rights and freedom of speech in their countries – thereby triggering international resonance by building up enormous political pressure.

TIME Magazine counts them among the world’s most influential voices. Based on their moving eyewitness reports and clandestine footage, Forbidden Voices pays homage to their courageous battle.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, Wonder Women! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation. Continue reading