A Walk To Beautiful Movie Review

Review:

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This is an incredibly beautiful and powerful documentary about the work of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. Obstetric fistula occurs during obstructed labor, when the child becomes stuck in the birth canal and presses on the mother’s tissues for too long, leaving a hole between the vaginal wall and the bladder and/or rectum that causes the woman to constantly leak urine and/or feces. Once common, it is now nearly unheard of in the developed world, but still ruins the lives of tens of thousands of women in the developing world every year. Victims are commonly abandoned by their husbands and families and ostracized.

The documentary follows the cases of three women who are able to seek help at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital to reverse their condition and reclaim their lives. Obstetric fistulas are considered a disease of poverty and the documentary touches on the heart-breaking concurrence of factors that make fistulas such a common occurrence in Ethiopia: inadequate nutrition in childhood, resulting in short stature and underdeveloped pelvises, early marriage (teenage mothers are more likely to experience obstructed labor than adults), and lack of adequate access to prenatal care and the services of trained doctors and midwives during birth, among others. It also touches on some cultural factors such as the prevalence of bride kidnapping and forced marriages in rural Ethiopia.

Despite such heartbreaking detail about the hardship of women’s lives in Ethiopia, the film is ultimately life-affirming and inspiring. I cried multiple times watching it, but I smiled, too. I wish we could hear more about how the women are doing today, especially Wubete, whose life has been a nearly unimaginable litany of horror but who ends the film smiling, happy, and finally safe.

Watch the complete documentary:

If you’re inspired to help, you can donate directly to the hospital via Hamlin Fistula USA/Hamlin Fistula UK/Hamlin Fistula Australia, or indirectly via The Fistula Foundation, which works in Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as well as many other African countries, and is rated a 4 star charity by Charity Navigator.

My rating:5 Stars (5 / 5)

First Position Movie Review

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Review:

After several years without it, I decided to sign up for Netflix again a few days ago. The first full movie I watched was First Position, a ballet documentary that popped up on my recommendation list. When I noticed the date, I was a little surprised that I’d never heard of it before, as I love dance and watch lots of movies and documentaries about various forms of it, but I clicked play and quickly made up for lost time!

First Position is a well-made and interesting documentary that gives a good feel for the lives of the young dancers it portrays. As someone who studied ballet for many years myself, I didn’t learn as much as I did with something like, for example, Jig. As a result, my attention wandered during some parts because I already know stuff like how hideous ballerina’s feet are and how much many of them actually eat. However, my personal experience had advantages as well. With Jig, I could be impressed by the speed and rhythm of Joe Bitter’s set dance without fully understanding what I was seeing. With First Position, I knew exactly what I was seeing in performances such as 12 year old Miko Fogarty’s variation on Don Quixote, and why these kids were so amazing.

The documentary follows a good mix of kids and teenagers of various ages and backgrounds and makes you care about them and feel for the incredible sacrifices they and their families have made to pursue their dreams. To paraphrase Baryshnikov, most of them don’t just love to dance, they need to dance, and their innate passion and talent has driven them to incredible heights for their age. Miko Fogarty and Aran Bell in particular amazed me, since I was still studying ballet myself at ages 11 and 12 (I quit at 16) and could really compare what I was capable of doing at that age to what they were. (Needless to say, they were miles ahead.)

Because the movie was filmed back in 2010, several of the older dancers have since gone on to professional careers, including the Columbian Joan Sebastian Zamora (pictured on the cover), who currently dances with the English National Ballet, and the girl from Sierra Leone, Michaela dePrince, who is currently dancing with the Dutch National Ballet. First Position’s Facebook page also recently announced that Aran Bell, now 15, will be dancing with the American Ballet Theater’s studio company this season, and Miko Fogarty (now 16) also seems to be keeping busy with both studying and performing, if her Facebook page is any indication.

If you love ballet or want to learn more about it, you’ll love this documentary!

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My rating:3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

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Chasing Ice

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Review:

Want to watch

Lots of rave reviews for this documentary about a film crew’s efforts to document melting glaciers around the world.

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Animals Are Beautiful People Movie Review

Review:

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The original plan was to set my daughter up with a movie and try and get a little work done while she was watching. She loves animals, so we decided to give Animals Are Beautiful People a shot after stumbling across it on Netflix. Well, the original plan didn’t last long. I’d joined her in front of the screen within minutes of starting it.

It turned out to be one of the funniest and most charming documentaries I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t recommend it as a serious documentary about African wildlife, as there is rampant anthropomorphism and several points where the film-makers appear to have set situations up or edited together pieces of unrelated footage to make something appear funnier or more interesting than it was, but as a fun, entertaining, and mostly upbeat snapshot of wilderness life in Southern Africa, it’s a great choice for kids and adults alike. It has a wonderful score as well.

Here’s a favorite clip of a bunch of animals getting totally smashed on overripe Marula fruit:

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

Jig Movie Review

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Review:

This documentary is a very enjoyable foray into the world of competitive Irish dancing that really shows the hard work and years of dedication that it takes to be a top dancer.

I was especially charmed by shy John Whitehurst and chatty Brogan McKay, two of the younger competitors the documentary follows, but as far as the dancing goes, the star of the film is John’s idol and training partner Joe Bitter, an American teenager who moved to England with his parents to train with former world champion John Carey. Joe delivers a set dance at the end that will knock the socks off even casual fans.

My rating:4 Stars (4 / 5)

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