I decided to watch the documentary portion of Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof. I liked how it opened with a celebrity, George Clooney, to say that we all relate to tragedy. Although some situations can’t be fixed, they can become aware by people around the globe. Celebrities, including actors and actresses, know emotion best, which is why I thought it was a smart idea on Nicholas’ part to bring some like Meg Ryan and Olivia Wilde with him on his journeys. Ultimately, everyone has the same human rights, and I think the topics discussed in this film perfectly sum up why these human rights and more importantly, women’s rights, need to be brought to light today in our modern world.
I think the best way to convey the documentary’s overall message to others would be to describe it not as just a film looking at different social issues around the globe. It’s more to show a movement we as the human race must stand by. It’s the subtitle for Kristof’s whole piece, “Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide.” What he’s basically saying is that it’s time to stand up for women’s equality in an unequal world. This whole endeavor brings to mind one of my favorite musicians, Chad Stokes, of Dispatch and State Radio. Besides being a talented artist, he promotes equality through a grassroots structure, and co-founded an organization called “Calling All Crows.” The organization makes efforts to relay to the global community important issues such as education, aid for refugees, environmental policy and as primarily discussed in Half the Sky, women’s rights and the need for women empowerment around the world. I’ll provide the link to their website below along with a link for Stokes’ song of the same name, Calling All Crows, that is highlighting women empowerment.
One of the stories in the film that got to me was all of those in Cambodia dealing with sex trafficking. Having no personal connection to any of the terrible things that go on in that industry, I can’t even begin to believe how hard is must be for a woman to struggle through that. (Excuse my language in the next sentence) To know that something that fucked up is happening and has been happening to woman and girls under the age of even 4 years old is unbelievable. A woman by the name of Somaly Mam was highlighted early on in the documentary. Her particular story was extremely tragic, as her origin before being sold to a brothel is unknown. She has no name, and no family. Her story is that at a young age she was trafficked into a brothel. Her friend was murdered, and she was raped repeatedly until she later escaped. She now manages a sort of survivor’s camp, and fights against women exploitation in Cambodia. Somaly helps victims become survivors by giving them love, happiness and opportunity. Her story is sad, and even in her interviews she gets sad, but her main goal above all else is to help those that have been affected. Her emotions portrayed are positive; love and compassion are given to her young girls so that they can become a voice for change. There’s happiness there despite coming from such a violent and cruel background. Actress Meg Ryan describes her as charismatic, having a heroic quality to her. Somaly is a symbol of hope for victims of sex slavery. It was also sad to hear that during her time in the brothel, she began to hate herself, and said if she died, she’d be ok with it. As mentioned previously, she now takes her story and uses it to empower the girls she saves to overcome obstacles in their lives. She even will put herself at risk and venture into brothels herself in order to save young girls, which is an incredibly brave thing to do.
In terms of my particular field of study, filmmaking, there are obvious implications unto which I can use this information within my career. Universally, all the topics discussed in Half the Sky can relate to my field and be adapted for the screen. Some issues may certainly be more difficult than others in a narrative sense (which is mainly what I do, I’m not much for documentaries), but the stories told around the world are necessary to hear and are important for more and more people to understand, so that we as a human race can bring light to these situations by exposing and handling them.
“Calling All Crows” Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7nCkTm7_RY
Calling All Crows – Organization Website: http://callingallcrows.org/