21 August 2008

Student Success

It was a great honor for me to have the opportunity to screen our film at my alma mater, Florida State University. The film was projected at the new Student Life Center and I have to say I was jealous to see the state of the art digital theater the students can take advantage of now. Wow! The film looked and sounded fantastic.

This was the first time to screen the film with a predominantly younger audience, and I felt it had the same energy as previous screenings. After the film we had a panel of myself, Terry Coonan, who is the Director of The Center for Advancement of Human Rights, and Robin Goodman, Professor of English, who specializes in feminist literature.

There seemed a real genuine interest to engage with our panel, and we did have some provocative discussion. The students wanted to understand more about who supports and what drives these women to be so selfless in their endeavors. Then we addressed whether it was successful that girls in Mali would gain assistance, but then end up back in the arms of domestic servitude. I pointed out that some of these girls do not go back to the system, like Kadia who becomes a seamstress apprentice by film's end. Many girls are like Kadia who get training in a skill to get out of the system. And if they do stay in the system, Madame Urbain from Mali says at graduation that these girls will make sure their kids go to school. And that is the important and meaningful change that empowered women bring. A system will not change overnight, but incremental change is quite powerful.

Terry Coonan was an amazing champion for the film. He said this film was quite honest in how it portrayed what he sees out in the field, and that women truly are the catalysts for change in their communities. Most importantly, he was impressed on how the film brought emotion to the concept of women's empowerment. Check back soon for Terry's complete review of the film on our blog!

All in all it was a success. Terry was very interested in using the film in the classroom and was excited to hear we already had a college-level curriculum built. And students were excited to talk to me afterwards both about the filmmaking and the issues presented in the film. It was a great thrill to return with a successful feature and I was happy to see that the film made a big impression on younger viewers.