A Walk To Beautiful

"Very Good"

A Walk To Beautiful Review


Documentary films are meant to educate us about something we do not know. Whether it's the background of a political candidate or the patterns of animals and insects, we come out of the experience thinking a little differently. Admirable though the venture might be to embark on creating such a piece of truthful art, it is also helpful when the filmmaker is somewhat creative about doing so and truly respects their subject, making it easier for the ignorant viewer to stay engaged with the screen and the focus of attention.

A Walk to Beautiful follows several women in middle-of-nowhere Ethiopia who have undergone a horrifyingly long labor at the end of their pregnancy. After several days, the child they deliver has come out stillborn and they become shunned by their local communities for this assumed curse. Another unifying issue is that they have problems controlling when their bodies choose to release waste, which makes it that much harder to connect with anyone around them.

Several documentaries have focused on genital mutilation but few, if any, have focused on deliveries gone wrong in developing countries. We take for granted that we will be driving to the hospital, and having one conveniently close by. It never occurs to us to try to understand what happens to a woman that does not have this kind of access. Each of the patients we see lives several walking hours from the closest road out of their community, which is of course not near a medical facility. Watching these young women who are barely teenagers talk about their predicaments is painful, and your heart does go out to them.

Some salvation comes in the form of a hospital that has been set up by a nice British couple who arrived decades ago to help young women and stayed on out of compassion. It's called the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and about 30 operations are performed each week on women with this type of incontinence problem to assist them in leading a normal life once again.

As benevolent as the filmmaker and doctors seem to be, they do not treat these women as such while capturing them on film. The language used to describe their life situation is often condescending, considering what they have been through, and you even see nurses clucking at them to stop their tears as if they have just scraped their knee on the ground by playing stickball in the street. The monotonously episodic fashion in which their stories are told is a bit too reminiscent of made-for-television specials, which makes sense considering that director/producer Mary Olive Smith has only worked in television up to this point.

While A Walk to Beautiful provides us with a new glimpse into women's issues that could prove vital to other situations, it is spoken through a lens that obviously doesn't know much about the culture it's representing. The amount of adoration that the doctors receive by the lens is a little overwhelming, and you begin to wonder if this is a story about women's issues or a commercial for a hospital. Had it stuck with more of the community on which it was based, and less on how generous a few foreign doctors are, it would be easier to remember and root for the individual women by their names.



A Walk To Beautiful

Facts and Figures

Run time: 85 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 5th May 2007

Distributed by: Engel Entertainment

Production compaines: Engel Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Mary Olive Smith

Producer: Mary Olive Smith, Amy Bucher, Steven Engel

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