Country: United States
Featuring: Madonna, Bill Clinton, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Paul Farmer
Director: Nathan Rissman
Run time: 86 minutes
DVD distributor: Alliance Films
In Malawi, people are dying in droves because of AIDS. There are bizarre tribal rituals that involve men traveling from one village to another to have sex with women who have lost babies – a great gig many years ago, a scary one now. Sex is a taboo subject in Malawi, so there is no discourse about the subject, and the scourge of AIDS continues unabated in the world’s second-poorest country.
Enter Madonna. Truly, who better to destigmatize sex and start a discussion on the subject than the queen of unadulterated, celebrity-creating promiscuity? But then, that’s not why she’s there. She’s there to adopt their children. And the more I hear about it, the more I think it’s a good thing, even a great thing that she is involved. She narrates I Am Because We Are, a documentary about the tragic situation in Malawi. Her involvement is the reason my wife (and many others) will watch this movie. That’s a great thing.
I like the fact that Madonna and Angelina Jolie and their ilk visit the poorest countries in the world and adopt oprhans. Yes, it can be seen as self-serving, and yes, it can get irritating when it dominates the news. But at the very least, it means media outlets will spend a little time talking about places like Malawi. And although those aren’t the stories about Malawi I would like to hear, at least the country gets into the news, and the problems there are at least (somewhat) covered as a result.
More often than not, however, it will take a movie like this one, a terrific documentary that also features former president Bill Clinton and Bishop Desmond Tutu, to shine a light on the abject poverty and horrific living situation. Sometimes films about important subjects aren’t made well. Sometimes there is no real reason to watch. I Am Because We Are is not one of those films. It’s important, it’s good, and there are many, many reasons to watch it.