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Putting the Power in ‘A Powerful Noise’

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Film review by Roger Landes

A Powerful Noise asks nothing from its viewers. At least, not directly. It’s not that kind of documentary. To put it quite simply, it doesn’t need to be.

Sure, it’s an activist film with a strong feminist message, but not once will it demand anything from you.

But that is not to say it isn’t affecting. Hell it’s inspiring. The inspiration of the film comes not from a manipulative director, but from the characters presented.

The film follows three women with backgrounds as different as their locations. Hanh is a HIV-positive widow from Vietnam. Nada is survivor of the Bosnian war. Lastly, the wonderful Madame Urbain is a social activist in Bamako, the largest city in one of the poorest countries, Mali.

Although these women at first glance have little in common, their struggle is the same: they must reform the societies that seem to have no interest in changing. The film chronicles their hardships, and successes.

Hanh works to combat the growing number of HIV/AIDS victims in Vietnam. The disease is spreading at the same rate as the amount of heroin use in the country.

Hanh now tackles the difficult task of educating the public on safe sex and not sharing needles.

This is particularly difficult in her home country, as its society has intense social stigmas on the disease.

The film does a remarkable job at showing the shame, fear, and hope found in the people of Vietnam.

The Bosnian War is arguably the most misunderstood travesty of the past 30 years. In the aftermath of the war, the people found their economy completely destroyed, over a million people displaced, and over 50% unemployed.

Nada is a survivor of the war who works to help local farmers to find a place to sell their crops.

She struggles with the still fallen economy, and remaining clashes between the two cultures.

Of the three women, Madame Urbain shines as not only the most moving, but entertaining as well. Mme. Urbain is a social worker in the West African country of Mali.

Mme. Urbain works foremost to set up schools and encourage the education of young women.

“To educate a woman is to educate a village is to educate a nation.”

But she is met with resistance, especially from the male villagers, as the society maintains its acceptance of the subservient role of women.

The truly inspirational part of the film: with so much resistance and so many hardships, where can these women find hope? The film shows us, three women with no place in society, yet they reached out and claimed a place for their own.

The full review at the film festival blog OH!Film

A Powerful Noise screens on Tuesday August 25, 7:30 – 9:00pm at The Drexel Theater, 2254 E. Main St.

This screening is co-sponsored by the Free Press. Admission is free. Donations accepted.

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2 Responses to Putting the Power in ‘A Powerful Noise’

  1. SusanB
    SusanB August 24, 2009 3:58 pm at 3:58 pm

    Brought to you by the Columbus International Film + Video Festival’s Near Monthly Screening Series.

  2. mbeaumont August 25, 2009 7:13 am at 7:13 am

    This is a great film, highly recommended.

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