The new story of hope is the awakening of the poor to the opportunity of microloans. This film looks at the women of India and Afghanistan and focuses on two particular groups lead by the extraordinary yet common among them. In Bihar, India, Sister Mary Lobo has given the poorest of the poor, the Outcasts, empowerment by teaching them the basics of personal economics. The women work and save and eventually qualify for small loans that they can use to improve life for themselves and their children. In Kabul, Afghanistan, the women recall their lives before and after the Taliban. Their terrible misery under the fundamentalists has given way to glimmers of hope through microloans, using them to build small businesses that provide food, stability, and a sense of self-worth. The bigger lessons learned in this beautifully filmed documentary are about the common wishes of women everywhere, rich or poor: the desire for independence for ourselves and our families, the need to make life better for our children, and the importance of helping each other reach these goals. This film is recommended for high school and college libraries supporting courses in women’s history or third world economics.
A brilliant collection of short documentaries, this latest collection covers senior citizens living the good life in Florida, a generation of husband killers in Hungary, ski-joring, a lost soul getting more lost, HIV in Africa, and overheard cell phone conversations. “Afloat” visits a senior village in Florida, where 90-year-olds reflect on the good times while they swim in the center’s pool. “The Angelmakers” tells the tale of a group of isolated and ignored women in a tiny village in Hungary who got the ultimate revenge many years ago. The poisoning of their husbands is remembered by the current generation of women who now reap the benefits of more freedom. “High Plains Winter” is a smeary painting on film that evokes the chill and stark beauty of western America’s lonesome plains in winter. The unusual sport of ski-joring, people on skis being pulled by horses, is featured. “Send Me Somewhere Special” follows the spontaneous trip of the filmmaker to a randomly chosen English village, where he gets involved in the lives of the local residents. Funny, sad, quirky and daring, we watch as surface politeness peels away for deeper meaning. “Stand Still Like Living” speaks of the courage and coping of two people in Botswana who discover they have AIDS. The pervasiveness of the disease into their everyday lives makes the tragic commonplace and puts a human face on the epidemic. “The Intimacy of Strangers” uses real snippets of randomly chosen overheard cell phone conversations, brilliantly edited together to tell a story of love and loss. The new intrusion of private lives in public spaces is dissected and woven into a film we all star in at some point. This collection of short films is a terrific opportunity for public libraries to get exposure for this overlooked genre and garner it some new fans. Recommended highly.