The Guardian reports tonight on “I Am Because We Are“, a documentary film produced by Madonna and directed by her former gardener/current filmmaker Nathan Rissman about poverty and AIDS in the southern African country of Malawi. Apparently, the documentary was well-received at the Cannes Film Festival. This was not the reception it received when it premiered a month ago at the Tribeca Film Festival. According to Fox411 (so take this with a grain of salt because the Material Girl probably tops their list of Most Evil), the documentary is propaganda for the Kabbalah Center of Los Angeles, its teaching curriculum, “Spirituality for Kids” (SFK), and Madonna’s foundation, Raising Malawi.
According to the film’s website:
“Madonna leads viewers through heart-wrenching stories that ultimately remind us how interconnected we are… As we try to uncover what is in the heads and hearts of Malawi’s one million plus orphans we begin to understand that this is not just a story about the orphans of Malawi, rather a story about all of us. We are reminded that whether we are talking about the children of Malawi, or anywhere else in the world, if they don’t have a vision, they’ll never have a future. If they don’t know where they are going, they’re never going to get there. If we can create a belief in children, that they have the power to impact their future, that they really are their own potential… then we can change everything.”
There’s something deeply disturbing, dangerous, and patronizingly colonial about pseudo-humanitarian statements like this: the underlying assumption that people live in poverty because they haven’t helped themselves, don’t have a vision, and don’t know where they’re going. Now thanks to the goodwill of celebrity and wealth from the First World, these children are going to be educated, pick themselves up, and really, just get themselves together. Thank you, Madonna. Now we get it.
Both Madonna and Rissman are working on their next film project, which will be based on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Run, don’t walk.