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June 24, 2008

Youth Producing Change, 2007

youth_change.gifThoughtful and impassioned, Youth Producing Change is a diverse and intimate reflection into some of the issues and ideas that inspire young people worldwide into taking action. The two collaborative films from Africa, Women Empowerment from South Africa and A Maid Is Not A Slave from Senegal, draw from the traditional culture of African tale-telling to convey their progressive themes. In Women Empowerment, Lithiko Mthobeli creates a panoramic ode to the resilience of women that was inspired by his single mother, concluding the film with the reverent chorus of "You strike a woman, you strike a rock", an African proverb popularized during the apartheid struggle. Meanwhile, A Maid Is Not A Slave evokes the country's rich film history in its Ousmane Sembène-like moral tale (especially Black Girl) on the exploitation of domestic workers. Cultural legacy also provides the heart and soul of Islands of the People, a portrait of the aboriginal Haida tribe in Canada, whose language (and consequently, culture), spoken by only a handful of people who are all in their 80s (including village elder and teacher, Nonnie Mary Swanson), is on the verge of extinction after forced integration and migration. Zane Scheuerlein's Monty Pythonesque The Hidden Cost of Cashmere from the U.S. and Slave Label from the U.K. both explore the impact of consumerism, from the environmental and economic toll of buying products from global markets, to the exploitation of factory workers in developing countries that is reflected in the affordability of consumer goods. In the U.S., Zachary Lennon-Simon's Playing with Other Tigers from Boston and Rene Dongo's The Countdown from New York find commonality in the aftermath of 9/11, as Lennon-Simon reflects on his lifelong friendship with Amir who, as a Muslim, lives with the constant harassment of being called a terrorist, and Dongo captures a performance by his friend, spoken word artist Sofia Snow, on the void left by the collapse of the twin towers and the hope that comes with rebuilding. Similarly, I Want My Parents Back from San Diego and The True Cost of Coal from Kentucky reflect grassroots issues: the misuse of broad Homeland Security powers designed to uproot terrorism as a means of targeting illegal immigration from Mexico, and the human and environmental exploitation associated with the lucrative coalmining industry that has left towns impoverished, waters contaminated, and landscapes altered, calling for a rejection of the coal to liquid initiatives that are being pushed by legislators under the nationalistic rhetoric of domestic energy development to curtail dependency on foreign oil.

Posted by acquarello on Jun 24, 2008 | | Filed under 2008, Human Rights Watch