Girl Rising Storytelling

Girl Rising has partnered with the International Rescue Committee, Citi and HP to create a film and campaign around the story of one brave young girl named Nasro, whose daily life is a fight to get the education she deserves. The film, Brave Girl Rising, will be released this March on International Women’s Day.  In our previous blog posts, we explained why we are telling the story of Nasro and introduced you to Warsan Shire, the poet who is writing the screenplay. Now we’re going to take a step back and talk about why we make films the way we do.


If you’ve seen the film Girl Rising, you may know that our films are a fusion of documentary and scripted scenes. We meld our roots in documentary filmmaking, with the creativity of writers and artists to make something original. It’s true, but it’s not a documentary. It’s emotional and expressive, but it’s strongly grounded in each girl’s reality.


“The hope is that the stories make you feel and inspire action,” said Girl Rising CEO Christina Lowery. “We want to change minds and change behaviors, and we believe storytelling is one of the most effective ways to do it.”

20110523-110523HAI_T1_10x10_1557ma 2.jpg

“The hope is that the stories make you feel and inspire action,” said Girl Rising CEO Christina Lowery.

So Brave Girl Rising is a blend -- the film was shot on location in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. But it is not simply a capturing of daily life there.  After spending time developing a friendship with Nasro, Warsan Shire, the writer, wrote a story-poem not just about Nasro’s harsh reality, but about her inner self—her hopes and dreams.  She also wove into her story themes and feelings she herself knew as a Somali refugee. It is her story-poem that Girl Rising used as our script to then take back to Dadaab to shoot the film.

20120617-120617_IND_T3iphone_bo_2524 2.jpg

Brave Girl Rising is a return to the original model of storytelling used in our first film, but Girl Rising is constantly creating innovative ways to use story to move people to action. In the past several years, GR has created games for iPhone apps in India, curricula for schools, a young adult book, radio programming, graphic novels, and the most watched documentary CNN has ever broadcast.  


“It’s not so much what we make, but the impact we hope it has,” said Girl Rising Chief Creative Officer Martha Adams. “When we place this content into the hands of thousands of advocates around the world — teachers, CEOs intent on gender equality in the workplace, heads of state, parents, young people—it can help reinforce change already underway or introduce an entirely new way of thinking about gender.”  

Richard E. Robbins, one of Girl Rising’s founders who is co-directing the new chapter, points out that while Girl Rising engages in non-traditional storytelling that allows the girls to express their dreams, the goals for girls’ education are not fiction. “We began with only one intention: to let the world know the about the powerful return on investment of girls education. The facts speak for themselves— educating girls works. We have to stop thinking of these girls as victims. They are opportunities.” 

Join us
Sign up to receive news and updates
from Girl Rising and from the IRC.