Scripting Girl Power

April 09, 2013   |   posted in Filmmakers


From the moment Richard Robbins learned about the global crisis in education for girls, his life was irrevocably altered.

"I was researching a project on a related subject when I stumbled onto some new studies about the power of educating girls. It blew my mind."

As he researched the subject further, he learned just how many girls were denied education across the globe. He found a new mission: telling their stories, both about their lives without education and what they had the capacity to become, if only they would be allowed.

"Those girls are just like our girls," he points out. "Like girls everywhere. Smart, powerful, and eager to make the world better."

He set out to gather their stories, so that the whole world could understand this. In the process, he and his crew met with thousands of different girls and heard their stories. Of course, he could only fit a few into his film. Choosing which ones would make the final cut was an adventure in itself.

Even before he chose which girls would be focused in on, he chose the writers who would work with them. Then, he allowed those writers to review the girls who had auditioned and choose the one that they felt the strongest sense of connection with. "That emotional connection was really the most important thing," he explains. "Once the girls were chosen, then the writers and the girls spent some time together, and the stories emerged from that."

The result is a collaboration between each girl and her writer, relating a somewhat scripted, but still very truthful, version of her life. "What you have," he elaborates, "is real girls playing themselves in slightly fictionalized accounts of stories from their own lives."

A number of A-list actresses contributed their talents to the project, rendering the girls' words into English for the audience. "Hearing Meryl Streep bring Maaza Mengiste's words to life was one of the absolute high points on this whole project for me," he gushes.

The result is "Girl Rising," a riveting documentary that reveals both the obstacles that girls face in securing an education, and the amazing minds on the other side of those barriers. His hope is that audience awareness will help break the barriers down.

"If we can convince our audience that educating girls works, that girls matter, and that the situation out there in the developing world is one we really can affect -- that's a huge step."

The stakes may be the future of humanity itself.

"These girls need help," he says. "They are the most powerless inhabitants on the planet. They have the least money, the least protection, the least opportunity. And amazingly they have the most profound impact on changes we all want -- less poverty, less injustice, less violence."

--Lara Klaber

PDF  Download Related PDF [1.6 MB]

Related Screenings:
04/08/13 @ 6:30 PM – Girl Rising
04/09/13 @ 1:50 PM – Girl Rising

Permalink  [Permalink]

Download The Daily

Check out the latest festival highlights and goings on in the print edition of The Daily.

View Now

CIFF Tweets

We sat down with one of our #CIFF39 "Someone to Watch" filmmakers, Mike Ott. Listen in on our conversation here:

about 4 hours ago   .   Reply   .   Retweet   .   Favorite

CIFF Facebook Posts

We're happy to have welcomed Wade Gasque of TIGER ORANGE to the "Meet the Filmmakers" series! He talks through some memorable moments during production, as well as his transition from playwriting to screenwriting: [video]

about 4 hours ago   .   Link

CIFF on YouTube All Videos


Between Two Films.


CIFF 38 Daily Buzz Day 13 Wrap Up


Meet the Filmmaker with Michele Josue, Judy & Dennis Shepard from "Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine"

The CIFF39 is screening in 11 neighborhood screening locations! >

The CIFF39 is screening in 11 neighborhood screening locations!

See where we'll be and what we're screening by clicking here.

Latest Updates >

Latest Updates

Don't forget to check the Latest Updates page for the most updated information on CIFF Late Additions & Stand By.

Sign up for our email newsletter

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram
  • youtube
  • flickr
  • foursquare
  • iphone
  • android