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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Girl Rising is an informative, educational documentary about the lives of impoverished girls living in countries where education for girls isn't a priority. Directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Richard Robbins (Operation Homecoming) and narrated by A-list stars including Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Selena Gomez, the film explores the dangerous inequalities that girls and young women face in parts of the world. Some of the segments deal with intense and disturbing topics including slavery, child marriage, rape, and human trafficking. There are matter-of-fact discussions of these issues, but nothing graphic is shown.
What's the story?
GIRL RISING tells the stories of various impoverished girls -- most of them adolescents -- from the developing world. Directed by Richard Robbins, the girls' heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting tales include a young, low-caste Nepalese girl who has been sold as a "kamlari" (indentured servant to a wealthy family), an Ethiopian 13-year-old whose widowed mother considers arranging a marriage for her, a Peruvian teen whose prospects seem to be either the mine or the brothel, and several more. Except for one girl who is raped and another who's already a teen mother without independent rights, the girls featured in the documentary have opportunities for a better future through education.
Is it any good?
It can be difficult to watch some of the film’s powerful vignettes, but it's important to push past the sadness, the discomfort, and even the horror of how these girls are exploited and oppressed. Even though upsetting issues are explored, Girl Rising is the kind of stirring documentary that parents should watch with their mature tweens or teens and then discuss the ideas it raises -- girl empowerment, education, and equality.
All of the stories are touching and deserving of attention. Senna's tale is particularly compelling and hopeful. Named after Xena: Warrior Princess, Senna is from the remote town of La Rinconada, Peru, in the Andes and goes to school at the command of her father, who eventually dies after a gold-mining accident. She discovers the words of Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo that inspire her to honor her father's memory, to claim her right to learn, and to have as bright a future as she can imagine. If only every girl, regardless of where she was born, could be assured the same.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of empowering girls and recognizing that girls/women should have the same rights as boys/men. What does Girl Rising teach us about the way girls are raised in other countries?
Which girl's story most impacted you? What opportunities do you have that these girls have to hope and fight for?
How can you help spread the word that girls -- all girls -- deserve a shot at being educated?
- In theaters: March 7, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: March 4, 2014
- Cast: Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, Meryl Streep, Selena Gomez
- Director: Richard Robbins
- Studio: GathrFilms
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Compassion, Courage, Empathy, Perseverance
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic material including disturbing images
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