Movie Review: Girl Rising

Published: Clarion Newspaper, March 20, 2013.

Don’t underestimate a girl’s power, especially when she has a dream. “Girl Rising” is a documentary film, directed by Oscar nominee Richard E. Robbins, that tells the stories of nine extraordinary girls from nine countries and how they overcome adversity. Each story is written by a notable author from the respective country and narrated by well-known Hollywood actresses. Narrators include Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington and Alicia Keys.

“Girl Rising” shows the audience that, on the other side of the world, life can be very painful and scary for young females. In various places across the world girls still suffer discrimination, slavery, sexual abuse and other injustices. But amazingly, a lot of them manage to survive and win the battle against oppression.

The film begins with the story of Sohka, a Cambodian orphan forced to pick through garbage in order to survive, who finds her way to school and becomes a successful dancer. Then, Suma, a Nepalese girl, survives child slavery and writes her own songs to help free the other children. Yasmin, a 12-year-old Egyptian girl, has been threatened by a man who tries to rape her. Instead of being a victim, Yasmin fights back and becomes a “superhero.” Azmera, a 13-year-old Ethiopian girl, refuses a marriage proposal. Senna, a Peruvian girl, discovers the power of poetry after her father dies in a gold mine. These are but a few of the many girls in “Girl Rising” who inspire the world with their unique stories.

The narration is strong and powerful. The authors succeed in telling the stories from the characters’ points of view. For example, the story of Wadley, a young Haitian girl, begins with her imagination running freely in the beautiful meadow, “Even the Hibiscus [tropical flower] look brighter when they’re happy.”

Overall, “Girl Rising” challenges its audience to think as well as to take action. There are 66 million girls around the world who do not attend school due to discrimination or poverty issues. By showing how these nine extraordinary girls overcome their challenges, Girl Rising offers hope and inspiration. At last, a film which wants to spread a valuable message: that one girl with courage is a revolution.


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