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12 Stones
Directed by Sandy Smolan, Twelve Stones is a film of compelling content, condensed into a twenty-two minute documentary short. Winning the Best Film Documentary designation at two film festivals, including the Newport Beach Film Festival, Twelve Stones is storytelling at its finest. The sublime beauty of Nepal has been well framed by cinematographer Jacek Lasku. The breathtaking landscape is in marked contrast with the living conditions of most of its people. Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world. With the support of Heifer International, a nonprofit that supports sustainable development in communities, an experiment began to see if empowering the marginalized women in the area would make a difference. Set in the village of Belsi off a main highway that connects Nepal to India, the film focuses on four women, Shanti, Sita, Sonia and Parabati, who like other Nepali village women, were poor, illiterate and too withdrawn to speak to strangers before being given a gift of a goat to provide an incentive toward becoming more economically viable. Through Heifer’s program, the women were also introduced to an understanding of how to develop more of a foundation in life through making use of core values, or cornerstones, from which the film takes its name. What seemed like a small idea has sprouted into something truly remarkable - transforming the economic and social status of these women. They have become increasingly self-sufficient community leaders, able to start financial cooperatives, and they have continued the Heifer model of giving the gift again, offering a goats to other women to widen the circle of sustainability. As a result, many women of the village of Belsi and their families have now been raised out of abject poverty. Another unforeseen benefit was the dramatic change in dissolving gender inequality within the families. This film makes good use of the camera lens to create an intimate view and provide a rich tactile sense of life in a far away place. It aptly shows the human face of happiness as each of the women found they had something of value to share. Visit: www.12stonesnepal.com/ for information and screening information.
Reviewed by Donna Strong

 

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