It’s A Girl (2014) – Documentary Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

My Rating : 4.5/5
My Rating : 4.5/5

You don’t want a girl of your own,

Yet you crave one for your son,

Oh lord, what a twisted world that I live in.

                        This sentence suddenly popped out of my head when I was watching this documentary. Why this kind of unfair treatment boys over girls did still exists when we are on the peak of world’s modernization still bothered me a lot. We even witnessed how mankind first took a first step on the moon. We applauded when every single achievement that man and woman did regardless of what are their fields because any success are meant to be celebrated. First car, hand phone, television and every single thing that you can think of were first invented. Unfortunately, this means nothing when some part of the country still think that girl’s value less worthy than boy. Some of you may ask ‘Is there any relevancy to this?’ Just think when a girl in this particular country got treated the same way as boy, she may one day become successful and in a long term can contribute to the economy of the country just like a man in her own country. It really is saddening when some of the mothers that confessed has been killing their daughters and didn’t felt any remorse at all. It was disturbing. I didn’t like kids (mostly because they are annoying but it doesn’t mean i can kill them) but seeing how those mothers proudly demonstrated how they end their daughter’s life made me cried so hard.

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                        One of the social workers went to Tamil Nadu, India to interview some of the mothers and was shocked by their reaction. They are willing to share the method to kill their daughters without any hesitation. I seriously asked where they all leaved their humanity. For 9 months, those mothers carrying their baby and have bonded the relationship ‘mother-children’ yet when it comes to the delivering the baby, they rather killed the baby when they knew it’s a girl. For those who didn’t kill the baby, the girl might not even have a chance to live. That’s because those mothers live in the extreme poverty. They wanted a son because of the whole dowry thing. If you gain a daughter in law, you get a big payment and gifts. However if you gain a daughter, you have to give a big payment and gifts to your in law family.

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The social worker is demonstrating back the killing method told by the mothers around him.

                        This whole dowry thing sickened me to death but I am in no place to criticize it because it is not my culture. People often say, they are not yours so shut your mouth. India already banned it (the dowry) yet it is widely practiced in the country. When the burden (dowry) is being put on the daughters, nobody wanted to have one. I wanted to say we can change this via education but first, we have to let this daughters live first. Statistic shows that the gap between boys and girls population in India is increasing steadily driving the country on a verge of where the scarcity of girls might be possible.

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Powerful Image but it is a sad truth for both countries, China and India.

                        China on the others hands, would be a whole lot different story. Their country are widely known for a policy of 1 child 1 family which right now has been increased to 2 child 1 family (if their first children is not son, they will be given another chance to have another children to get a son). The problem arises when your second children is still a girl. You can choose to keep the children but you may lose a chance to have a son. Forced abortion is permissible by China Government. If there is any family that has been found out try to have more than 2 children ( in many cases, they are expecting their third children) , forced abortion will be done right away. If the children did survive, he/she will not have any access to any government facilities and services. They are considered as Illegal citizen, up to some extent. This documentary showed China as one of the major contributor in the feticide cases.  Social worker in China interviewed one couple who had to run away to hide from the family planning enforcement officer. They are having more than 2 children and all of them turned out to be girls. They have been pressurized to abort the third children by their relatives but both of them didn’t want to do that. They separated their children and given to their relatives. I wonder how people look at them for making this decision. They both went into hiding.  The income that they earned, they send it back to relatives as a source to feed their children. I remember when one of the relatives commented that they should abort because it is a burden but the mother of those children said that it will be her burden to carry not yours. Listening to her answer made me feel so touched.

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Their parents went into hiding fear of the retaliation and the punishment by China Government

                        One of the most unforgettable scenes in this documentary is when one couple shared their experience that their daughter has been a victim of a bride kidnapping. Yeah, I thought it happened in Kyrgyzstan only but turned out China also had this case. This couple told the horrible story when their daughter has been taken from them. After a few months looking for the girl, they got information claiming that their daughter has been kept hidden in a different city, a few miles from their home. They got back their daughter (safe and sound) but what made me feel so uncomfortable is the intention of kidnapping the girl. The kidnappers (both husband and wife) actually wanted to have the girl as the bride to their son. It is a true story but yet it made my jaw dropped because the girl is so young. This is one of long term effects faced by China for a huge gap between the population boys and girls.

                        Overall, if you wanted to know the serious issues behind the gendercide, feticide and infanticide, this is one of the documentaries that focus on the listed topic.

12 Years A Slave : Movie Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

12 years a slave
My Rating: 4.5/5

(I am wiping my tears off my eyes and blowing my nose simultaneously after the credit scene of this film)

Solomot Northup/ Platt
Solomot Northup/ Platt (Chiwetel Ejiofor)

Where should I begin? First of all, the guy who portrayed Solomon Northup is fucking AMAZING. The word AMAZING wouldn’t suffice to praise Chiwetel Ejiofor for his depiction of Solomon. Forgive me for not watching any of his film before but I swear I got him under my radar now. Maybe I did watch his films but I can’t remember. All the overwhelming of hype and buzz of this film is credible. I mean, the film is fantastic and brilliant. they did win 1 award for golden globe awards and they also receive numerous nominations in Academy Award.  12 Years a slave film is based on the memoir of ‘12 Years a Slave’ written by Solomon Northup who is a free Negro born in New York State. In 1841, He’s been kidnapped in Washington D.C after being tricked by 2 guys who claimed to have a job in circus for him. He then, sold into slavery and being shipped off to New Orleans.  The plantation owner, William Ford (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch) bought him and his name has been changed from Solomon to Platt. He stayed as good slave to Master Ford and even suggested to his master the idea to transport logs effectively using the lake. However, situation arose as the one of the managers at the plantation disliked Platt and always picked on him. He failed to remain calm and in the spur of the moment, he had beaten the manager. Fear for Platt might be killed as an act of retaliation by that manager; Master Ford sold Platt to Edwin Epps, the cotton plantation owner. Platt did try to tell Master Ford that he is a free man but Ford can’t help him because he had a debt to pay.

Platt & Master William Ford
Platt & Master William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Let me be frank with you guys, that I watched this film solely because of Michael Fassbender. After Shame, X-men: First class, Prometheus, Fish Tank and so many films of him that I watched, I have became a big fan of Bender (and a bit obsessed too). Ruby and I called him ‘Abang Bender’. Michael Fassbender in this film is nothing like his previous characters in the films I listed above (nothing at all). When Ruby and Ika first told me about this film and they were pretty much excited about Fassbender going to play some evil role, I was like ‘okay’, not that I don’t look forward to it but in Xmen First Class, he’s pretty much covered the definition of evil. The role he played in this film, unfortunately is much more twisted, sadistic, brutal and vicious slave owner. Evil could not even begin to justify what he has done to all of his slaves. He whipped his slaves for not being able to pick an average amount of cotton per day, he raped his slave whenever he pleased to do so, and he called them up in the middle of the night and asked them to dance just for sake of his entertainment. I seriously don’t like his character in this film. I hated it because his acting was excellent and I did see him as inhuman slave owner in the film. At that time, having and owning slaves is not a sin and legal by law.  Master Epps frequently read to his slaves the bible verses that supported slavery act. He planted the idea that they have to accept that they are his property and he can do whatever he likes to them.

Platt & Master Edwin Epps
Platt & Master Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender)

Platt attempted twice times to contact his friends and family. The first attempt failed as he sought help from the wrong person. Afraid of being caught again by Master Epps, he burned all the stolen paper and destroyed the ink and pen that he made. Later, He met Samuel Bass (portrayed by Brad Pitt) a Canadian carpenter who constructed the gazebo for Master Epps’s house. Bass is a simple man who believes that men no matter what color he was, is equal before god. He expressed his opinion to Master Epps but Epps dismissed his point by saying that the slaves are rightfully obtained by him. They are his property. Platt felt Bass’s sincerity and confided in him, his story from beginning until he ended up as one of Master Epps’s slaves. Bass agreed to help after a moment of reluctance to write a letter for him and will bring it to Saratoga Springs. One day, a sheriff appeared with his friend who is a shopkeeper from the place he used to live, Saratoga Springs. Platt fitted the description of Solomon Northup from his previous life at New York and is freed right away. Epps refused to let Platt go and threatened to pursue the matter to the court. The final scene of this film is the reconciliation of Solomon Northup with his family. 12 years of absent in the family showed that his daughter already got married and have a child named after him. That scene was so touching and full of emotions of sad and happiness. He then begged his wife for forgiveness of not being able to return soon and missing in her life for 12 years.

Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt)
Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt)

Unforgettable Scenes:

I would like to state that every single scene in the film is haunting my mind. This movie is not something you can repeat twice and watched it all over again. This is about subjugation and suppression of black-skinned people by white people who they called ‘Master’. However, I would like to highlight some of the unbearable scenes that I don’t want to watch EVER again.

1. Every single scene that has a singing moment or a song in it. It is excruciating. They used songs as an entertainment, encouragement, and some of it even as reminder to realize who they really are. Some of those songs had catchy tune but was sung in the solemn and grave environment and time. among all of the songs featured in the film, Roll Jordan Roll really stuck in my head and i kept humming the song.

Patsy (Lupita Nyong'o) , Master Epps & Platt
Patsy (Lupita Nyong’o) , Master Epps & Platt

2. When Master Epps chained and whipped his favorite slave patsy in front of other slaves. He told Platt to do on his behalf but Platt didn’t go all the way as he ordered. He then took the belt and whipped patsy until he felt satisfied. This film then showed how badly patsy has been injured.

The Disturbing Hang Scene
The Disturbing Hang Scene

3. When Solomon was hanged at the tree and fighting for his life as his feet only an inch away from the tree. There is some slave who did give him water but nobody dared to remove the rope. It was agonizing seeing a man fighting to catch his breath while all the slaves continued their works as usual at the background like nothing happened. He was freed from the rope by Master Ford when he returned from work. I mean like what the fuck you didn’t send any of your messenger to release him right away. He was tied by a bad people but somehow the manager of the plantation couldn’t care less. He did chase away the bad guy but he walked away without releasing him. The wife of Master Ford also turned away from the scene.

Patsy begged Platt to kill her.
Patsy begged Platt to kill her so that she can end her suffering.

4. The rape and assault scene of Patsey by Master Epps is cruel and pitiless. Patsey endured it even she didn’t like it. However, she’s finally break down in front of Platt asking him to kill her. She admitted that she does not have enough courage to take her own life. However, Platt refused to do so.

5. When Solomon realized he’s been kidnapped and beseeched his kidnapper to release him. He tried to convince them that he is a free man from New York. However, he failed to provide any legal document as a proof. He was beaten using a wood stick until that stick is broken. The kidnapper then used a belt to flog his back until it bled. I cried, dude. I really cried my heart out. How could you treat another human being like animal?