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Huffington Post: "How We Got A Film About a Serious Childbirth Injury That No One in America..."

Updated: Apr 30, 2018

By Allison Shigo

Yes, few people have heard about obstetric fistula (if you are one of these people an explanation is on the way), our company hadn’t heard about fistula before we made our film, A Walk to Beautiful. Which is exactly why we felt compelled to bring viewers face to face with the stories of women in Ethiopia whose lives are ruined by this condition but who are unwilling to give up. These are inspiring stories of hope, courage and survival, and I believe that’s why the film is now playing in cinemas in NY and LA. As we started our film festival circuit last year, we were amazed by the reaction of audience members. People were stunned and shocked that they’d been completely ignorant of this treatable problem that afflicts millions of women. Not only visibly emotional and upset but also in awe of the dramatic transformation that takes place once a woman is cured. As the film unfolds, the viewers comprehend that the title, A Walk to Beautiful, is not only about a fistula sufferer walking to a physical place to be healed, but her journey is a cure of the soul where her dignity and life are reclaimed.

When we first read the riveting New York Times column about obstetric fistula I never would have imagined that five years later we would be opening our film, A Walk to Beautiful, on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles. Yet, here we are, opening our film Friday, February 29th at the Sunset 5 while going into our fourth successful week at the Quad Cinemas in New York City.

Almost five years ago, Steve Engel, head of our company, Engel Entertainment, brought in the column his friend sent him that changed the course of our company and certainly our lives. The column was written by Nick Kristof about a hospital in Addis Ababa — where — the capitol of Ethiopia that cures women with fistula — what — a childbirth injury that afflicts millions of women in developing countries. The story resonated with all of us; I volunteered to work on the film immediately. Two years later, under the direction of Mary Olive Smith, we were on a plane to Ethiopia in hopes of finding women with fistula whose stories we could capture in our documentary film.


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