From the award-winning producers of The Documentary Group and Vulcan Productions, with strategic partner Intel Corporation and distribution partner CNN Films, "Girl Rising" spotlights the stories of nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances. Each girl’s story is written by a renowned writer from her native country: Marie Arana, Sooni Taraporevala, Aminatta Forna, Edwidge Danticat, and others. Academy Award Nominee Richard E. Robbins directed "Girl Rising." It includes voice performances from esteemed actors Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Kerry Washington, Cate Blanchett, Priyanka Chopra, Salma Hayek, Chloë Grace Moretz, Selena Gomez, Freida Pinto and Alicia Keys. Girl Rising is now playing nationwide and will be broadcast by CNN Films this summer. The film champions empowering girls around the world through education. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to speak with Director Richard Robbins. Check out what he had to say about working on the project.
Q: What inspired you to create this documentary?
Richard Robbins: It was my idea. I was doing research on a different subject and I stumbled across some reports about educating girls and I was just blown away by what I learned and I kind of couldn't leave it alone. I tried to move on and do different things.
Q: This is a film of massive scale. You filmed in 9 countries.
Richard Robbins: Part of the argument was if we're going to take on this subject, let's be big, let's be ambitious, you know a lot of times I think, documentary filmmakers have a little bit of inferiority complex, you know. We sort of think of ourselves as “Don't take up too much space and try not to spend too much money” and we tried to do the opposite, like, “Let's be as big as we can.”
Q: What were the challenges of making the project?
Richard Robbins: Where do I begin…I mean, the biggest one was raising money. That's always the biggest one. I think really the big challenge is trying to tell stories about a difficult subject in way that doesn’t feel unpleasant, you know, that connects people to what what's inspiring about these girls rather than what's difficult about the world they live in.
Q: You used a lot of like artistic mechanisms and you had the girls reenact their own stories. What was that process like?
Richard Robbins: A lot of them had never seen a movie so it was an interesting process. But you know, we spent enough time there. They got onboard and I think it was fun for them. They’ve never done anything like that before.
Q: Which story touched you the most?
Richard Robbins: I couldn't even pick. I mean, I set up the process of choosing the girls so that I didn't have to choose the girls because I couldn't do it. The writers picked the girls that they wanted to write about.
Q: How did you get all of these celebrities on board to narrate?
Richard Robbins: A lot of persistence, you know, just preposterous ambition and pathological persistence gets you a long way.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add about the project?
Richard Robbins: You know, I think a lot of people feel like a story about this subject is going to be a difficult movie to watch or an unpleasant movie to watch, and we're just trying to tell everybody like, these stories will make you feel great. They're not going to make you feel bad, and so, you know, it's not a depressing way to spend your Friday night.
The world premiere of the film was held on Wednesday evening at the Paris Theater. Notables in attendance included: Allison Williams, Julie Taymor, Sami Gayle, Jeff Zucker, and Monique Coleman. From the film, screenwriters Maaza Mengiste, Loung Ung, Zarghuna (Zari) Kargar and Marie Arana all walked the red carpet. Following the screening, guests made their way over to Tao for a fabulous party.
New York showtimes:
Cinema Village - 22 East 12th Street, New York, NY - Map
1:05 - 3:15 - 5:15 - 7:15pm