Tessa Thompson, David Oyelowo and poet Warsan Shire collaborate in Girl Rising’s newest film, Brave Girl Rising

Girl Rising, the nonprofit behind the global campaign for girls’ education and empowerment, today released the trailer for the upcoming short film, Brave Girl Rising, which will debut on International Women’s Day, 2019.

The 20-minute film, written by a refugee, performed by a cast of refugees, and made in collaboration with refugees, is about how hope, love, and friendship can propel us beyond even the most bleak of circumstances. It tells the story of Nasro, a 17-year-old girl whose courageous drive to continue her education is inspired by the magical dreams of her mother and the sisterhood of her friends. Brave Girl Rising will debut Friday, March 8, here.

The film was made in collaboration with The International Rescue Committee, whose Women’s Protection and Empowerment programs support Nasro in Dadaab refugee camp, and with support from the project’s Founding Partner, Citi. To coincide with the film’s release, Girl Rising, IRC, and Citi are teaming up with HP and Amplifier to launch a major campaign that will include screening toolkits, curricula, take action guides and a street art initiative.

Warsan Shire, the UK’s former young poet laureate and social media phenom behind Beyoncé’s Lemonade, incorporates elements of magic realism and moving poetry in the screenplay. Tessa Thompson, who is the voice of the film, is not only Hollywood’s hottest new star (Creed 2, Westworld, Thor, the upcoming Men in Black reboot), but as one of the founding members of Time’s Up, she’s a powerful advocate for women in her own right.

“At a moment when 68.5 million people are displaced worldwide, around half of whom are women, this film brings much-needed awareness to the challenges faced by women and girls in crisis”, said Nicole Behnam, senior director for violence prevention and response at the International Rescue Committee. “Campaigns like this ensure the most vulnerable women are part of the global conversation, and show the importance of prioritizing their safety, education and wellbeing. The International Rescue Committee is proud to support and empower girls like Nasro around the world, so that they can recover from violence and take control of their lives.”

Nasro arrived at Dadaab, one of the world’s largest refugee camps, when she was only 7 years old. Shire wrote the screenplay based on hours of conversation with Nasro — and the story weaves together true events in Nasro’s life and her dreams with the award-winning poet’s own experience as a refugee.

“We want to get people talking about the reality for refugee girls all over the globe, the barriers they face in securing basic human rights and the truly transformative power of education for girls living as refugees”, said Christina Lowery, CEO of Girl Rising. “We believe films like ours can turn bystanders into activists and we have seen first-hand the results of people who become engaged in the issue and are inspired to act.”

The social change agency Amplifier (the group that created the iconic We the People campaign with Shepard Fairey) also teamed up with Girl Rising to create a street art component of the campaign that will be shared widely on social media. The artist Ashley Lukashevsky will create artwork inspired by the film, and the poster will be distributed in limited editions in select cities around the world and online in advance of the film’s release.

This film also marks the expansion of Citi’s partnership with Girl Rising. Citi has been a supporter of Girl Rising’s US Educator Program and is proud to be the Founding Partner of this project, the first in a new round of Girl Rising films and campaigns.

“This film is shining a light on the personal struggles and experiences of one refugee, which reflect that of many worldwide,” said Ed Skyler, Citi’s Executive Vice President of Global Public Affairs. “Citi is proud to support the work of Girl Rising to bring this awareness and action in support of girls and gender equality, while also continuing to partner with IRC and others to come up with solutions to this challenging issue.”

The IRC is a global leader in providing services and resources to adolescent girls in crisis, to help them regain control over their lives and futures. Through psychosocial support, skills- building activities, mentorship, and other interventions, the IRC engages girls, their parents, caregivers, and community leaders to combat harmful gender norms and practices, including gender-based violence.

Girl Rising launched its global campaign in 2012 with the goal of changing how people — from parents to presidents — value and invest in girls and girls’ potential. Since then, GR has created media-driven campaigns and grassroots programming with on-the-ground partners in India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Thailand, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is expanding into Kenya and Guatemala in 2019. Through creative storytelling in the form of films, PSAs, social media campaigns, radio programming, mobile games, and by teaming up with local organizations, GR is reaching girls, boys, parents, teachers, community and government leaders, sparking conversation and locally-led action in support of girls’ education and girls’ rights. The results include girls re-enrolling in school, parents deciding against early marriage, brothers standing up for their sisters, girls learning their rights and teachers creating gender-equal classrooms.

Girl Rising was named the #1 Most Dynamic Social Initiative (Forbes), “a social media marketing phenomenon” (The Daily Beast) and awarded the highest-to-date social impact score of 98/100 by Participant Media. They went on to launch the #62MillionGirls campaign with Michelle Obama, and in 2016 produced with Meryl Streep “We Will Rise,” a film about Obama’s mission to educate girls, now the most watched CNN Film of all time.

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