A Powerful Noise

2008
Distributed by A Powerful Noise
Produced by Crazy Legs Productions
Directed by Tom Cappello
DVD, color, 182 min., in Bambara, French, Vietnamese, Bosnian with English subtitles
General Adult
Education, Human Rights, Sociology, Women’s Studies


Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 1/7/2011

Building on the argument that women and girls are the most impoverished group in the world, this documentary shows the discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment women and girls experience as a result of this profound poverty and what can be done about it. According to the film, 60% of the world’s poorest, most disempowered people are female. When empowered by access to education, health care, and economic support, women are able to improve conditions in their own communities.

The 80-minute film follows the lives of three women on three different continents as they, and the organizations each one founded, have an impact on the daily lives of other women. Hanh is an HIV-positive Vietnamese woman working to educate others about the disease. In Mali, Madame Urbain provides vocational training and support to young girls coming to the city to work as domestic servants. Starting an agricultural collective for women in war-torn Bosnia is the goal of Nada. Each woman faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles but moves forward and ultimately makes a difference.

Backed by an impressive number of humanitarian organizations and corporate sponsors, the documentary is expertly made. Accompanied by an array of educational material, including discussion guides, other bonus features include promotional ideas, advocacy facts and figures, as well as a website, blog, and suggestions for further involvement. In the 2-disc educational version, a slightly longer version of the each woman’s story is presented. An official selection at numerous film festivals in 2009, the film is recommended as a starting point for a discussion of world poverty, the rights of women, and the ability to effect change.