Catalytic Content and the Power of Storytelling: How Girl Rising changes minds

By Girl Rising


Girl Rising has partnered with the International Rescue Committee and Citi 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, and is just one of many ways Girl Rising, the IRC, and Citi are working to ensure girls everywhere on the planet have access to safe schooling. 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--something we call catalytic content.


If you’ve seen the film Girl Rising, the movie that started the movement, you already know that our films are a fusion of documentary and drama. 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 stories make you feel and inspire action,” said Adams. “We want to change minds, change behaviors, and we feel like storytelling is one of the most effective ways to do it.”

They’re not alone—this is why the Obamas, for instance, have a multi-million dollar deal with Netflix to create content. They too see the power storytelling has to create greater understanding and empathy between people across all sorts of boundaries.

So Brave Girl Rising is a hybrid—the footage was shot on location in Dadaab, but instead of just reporting the facts on the ground, poet Warsan Shire wrote a story not just about Nasro’s harsh reality, but about her hopes and dreams. Shire spent time developing an intimate friendship with Nasro and learning about her, plus she could incorporate larger themes and issues she herself knew as a Somali refugee.


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