I witnessed a lost opportunity tonight. My wife told me about a movie playing at the Magic Lantern, which she wanted to see. Titled “Girl Rising,” it is a documentary about the plight of young women all over the world — focusing on the girls in “developing countries” who so often are denied education, are treated like chattel even by their own families and many times end up married in their early teens … or earlier.
Turns out the film had played in Spokane last April, sponsored by Inland Northwest Peace Corps Association. The film screened twice today, at 1 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College, then at 5:30 at the Magic Lantern. Two more screenings are set for Tuesday: 1 p.m. at Spokane Community College (building 16, second floor) and at 7 p.m. in Pullman at Washington State University's CUB.
Anyway, “Girl Rising” is far more than mere messaging. With a group of name actors narrating, from Liam Neeson to Salma Hayek to Chloe Grace Moretz, the film tells the true story of several young women. Well, true as perceived by the girls themselves and as adapted by writers who have dramatized their experiences. The result, while maybe not specifically true, nevertheless feels authentic. Not to mention powerful and poignant.
And one of the things that I appreciate about the film, other than the basic message, was that it doesn't make all men the enemy. It's clear that subjugation of women is a process of power, and most power is in the hand of men. But not all men treat women badly. Some of us are fathers of young women and have tried to instill in them a sense of personal power, which is one of the movie's themes.
All that said, the opportunity lost tonight occurred once the film was over. The theater was packed, with people sitting on the steps and in chairs that the workers had brought in from the lobby. And after such a powerful film, the stage was set for a good post-screening question-and-answer discussion. But other than a woman giving a rambling talk about the psychology of of trauma, and mentioning her organization, the young woman hosting the evening did virtually nothing to get a conversation started.
And so we were left, each audience member ruminating on what we had seen. Which is fine. I can make up my own mind. But I would loved to have heard from other audience members, particularly those who are young, what they thought.
Maybe that will happen tomorrow at SCC or WSU. It's nice to think so.