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June 18, 2013

Campaigning and Complexity: how do we campaign on a problem when we don’t know the solution?

June 18, 2013

A great film on girls’ rights wins an international prize (and my sister in law made it)

June 18, 2013
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Time for a spot of well-deserved nepotism. My sister in law, Mary Matheson, makes films for Plan International and yesterday won a prize at the Annecy International Animation Festival 2013. Chosen from more than 2000 entries, her animation “I’ll Take It From Here”, shot in Malawi last summer for Plan’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign, won the UNICEF Award for best film promoting children’s rights.

Mary writes:

‘We are both daunted and thrilled to see our film in the same programme as animation giants Disney Pixar (Monsters University) and Illumination Pictures (Despicable Me 2).

It’s nerve-wracking to see our film on such a big screen, having never watched it with more than five people in the room. We have no idea what to expect from this audience of 250. But their reaction is incredible. They are mesmerised as they watch and laugh in all the right places. They even clap and cheer at the end! (I should add that they do this for most films, but hey, still it’s great to hear.)’

Luckily she says she didn’t come over all Gwyneth Paltrow, and was able to talk a bit about the campaign when she won the award. Oh, and it was her first attempt at stop motion animation. Kudos, sis-in-law.

Would that all NGO shorts were anywhere near as good as this. But all too often, they are dull, worthy, predictable, patronising and plagued by excruciating 1950s Pathe Newsreel-style voiceovers. Watch and learn, people.


  1. Well done Mary. What a great video.

    Duncan – now you’ve done it. You’ll have post family videos of weddings, cows and skiing!

  2. Great production and yes gender inequality is a big issue in all countries (not just Africa). But, this video is using as a fundraising tool the perceptions that

    a. all African societies are by nature misogynistic, exploitative, sexually and physically abusive and must be changed by the benign social engineering of western NGOs like Plan.
    b. the problems with school attendance in Africa is all a result of the innate backwardness and barbarity of African societies, schools and family life and nothing to do with neo-liberal interventionism.

    This video will be watched in schools across the UK and hundreds of 1000s of UK kids will be persuaded into believing points a and b above and Plan and Oxfam simply do not care about the negative effects of this as it enables more money and support to come their way.

    You find this video wonderful, I find it an example of a system in which NGOs are forcing UK kids to believe in false and damaging stereotypes because it serves their financial and self-esteem interests. Why is there no health warning on the video about this? Where is the balance?

  3. Great film. Congratulations to Mary and to Brendar and all the community, who obviously took part in the filming with relish. How’d they do that bit where all the girls get sucked out of the school window?
    However, it marked a very effective change of tone half way through.

  4. It reminded me how recently this was the reality for women in the UK.

    Also refreshing to see the last message – not just funding communities directly, but changing legislation to affect society as a whole. Excellent!

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