Film Review: Shout Gladi Gladi

Fistula is the subject of this supremely compassionate documentary—not an easy subject, but the filmmakers should be saluted for tackling it in such an intelligent and thorough manner.
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The title of Adam Friedman and Iain Kennedy’s doc, Shout Gladi Gladi, refers to the celebration held in Africa when a woman completes medical treatment for her fistulas. This dire condition is basically a hole torn between the vagina and bowel or bladder, causing uncontrollable urination or defecation. The poor victims are often young girls who have been brutally raped or women giving birth without the benefit of a cesarean section. Their victimization horrendously continues when they become outcasts in their own villages.

The filmmakers have tackled a heavy, extremely unpleasant subject and don’t stint on the horrors occurring in modern times in places like Sierra Leone, be it the monstrous rape of children or a man describing how his hands were tied together and then literally burned off. They do focus on what is being done to at least improve medical conditions, spearheaded by such as millionaire philanthropist and very concerned citizen Ann Gloag. She provides an intelligent, appealing and very compassionate anchor in the midst of all this horror, elegantly dressed as she tours new hospitals and impoverished villages, where a battered hand cart is a precious means of transport for fistula sufferers.

Meryl Streep provides the narration for this not-easy-to-stomach but important and eminently worthy film. But it’s the shining eyes and miraculous survivors’ spirit of the women you will remember: Their joy is unquenchable and the comradeship they share truly inspiring. Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Melinda Gates (Bill’s wife) weigh in with eloquence as well.

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