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Half the Sky Review

The full title of this documentary is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. It was inspired by the book of the same name. The filmmakers, along with some celebrities, visit several different countries and meet courageous women and girls who are making the world a better place through the work that they do. Each country had a specific theme (e.g. “gender-based violence”) and a certain celebrity “assigned” to it.

I found this film to be absolutely stunning. It was heartbreaking, it was inspiring, it opened my eyes to the world around me in a major way. The stories really brought these issues to life to me. It’s one thing to read about violence against women in a book or online, but another thing entirely to hear a testimony from an actual survivor in her own words.

The documentary begins with the warning that it contains mature content, and that viewer discretion is advised. This warning is very accurate and should be heeded. Throughout the documentary, stories of rape, incest, female genital cutting, violence, and other terrible things are revealed as the girls and women tell their stories. This film is not for the faint of heart and there is a good reason it begins with a warning.

On using famous celebrities to narrate/visit the women in these nations: I get what they’re doing. They’re using people we recognize and admire to help catch our attention, to help us see things through their eyes and understand the gravity of these circumstances. And people in foreign countries are a lot more likely to recognize a celebrity than your average person. But I have to admit that it feels a little contrived sometimes; a little staged.

Another quick warning about this documentary: It is four hours long. In my opinion, the time flies right by, since the material is so fascinating, but I understand how it might drag on for some people. It might be wise to break the film up into four hour-long sections and watch it that way instead.

I recommend this documentary to everyone who is interested in rights for women and girls, so long as they are able to handle mature content and a bit of a long film.

Note: I watched this film using Netflix, a service I pay for with my own money.

Buy Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide on Amazon.com

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