The Greenwich International Film Festival is just getting underway this week on June 1-4. One of the highlights of the festival will be “#Little Stones;” a film produced and directed by Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Sophia Kruz, about social justice and women’s rights through the eyes of four female artists.

She is also the co-founder of Driftseed, an organization dedicated to building better lives for women and girls. Ms. Kruz invites the audience on a faraway journey to Senegal, Kenya, Brazil, Germany, India and the USA where she interviewed the four women in the film who suffered difficult periods in their lives and were either survivors of prostitution, female genital mutilation, extreme poverty, domestic violence or were sex trafficking victims.

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Four strong women making a difference

The four women profiled in the film are Panmela Castro who is a survivor of domestic violence by her estranged husband and a multi-talented graffiti artist in Brazil.

Sohini Chakraborty is a dancer and sociologist in India who trains and rehabilitates sex trafficking survivors to become professional dance therapists. Senegalese singer and activist Fatou Diatta aka Sister Fa, a survivor of female genital mutilation, and fashion designer.

Anna Taylor is the founder of the non-profit organization, James 127 Foundation and the clothing line, Judith and James. The clothing line was inspired by a woman named Judith and the incredible story of her transformation and rise from poverty in Africa.

These four women are now making an impact in their lives and inspiring the lives of others.

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Their voices speak volumes and are being heard and seen in the film using their unique, individual talents and setting a strong example by standing up for women's rights.

The 87-minute documentary follows these four women who express themselves through their art. Each of them makes an extraordinary contribution of one “little stone” to the mosaic empowering the women’s movement.

Sophia Kruz, the director, speaks out about her new film

Blasting News reached out to director-producer Sophia Kruz, and she elaborated further on her new film; which is scheduled to make its official premiere on June 2 and four at the Cole Auditorium at the Greenwich Library. Following the film on June 4, there will be a meet and greet reception with the cast and crew at the Sweaty Betty store in Greenwich.

“The hope is that by using art that everyone can relate to and most people like music, art, a dance that is really universal and positive it will make the women’s movement more acceptable," Ms. Kruz told Blasting News in a phone interview.

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"That’s certainly the goal."

She explained how she found these women to feature in her documentary. "I heard about this woman, Sohini in India; who teaches young girls to reclaim their bodies and they learn how to love their bodies after they have been taken from them through prostitution and trafficking."

"I wanted to know more, and I reached out to her through a Skype call, and she blew me away; she’s so passionate about her work, she’s been doing it for 20 years and has had incredible success, she’s touched the lives of over 65,000 survivors of sexual assault and prostitution, and I knew that was one of the stories that needed to be told.”

Sophia continues to speak about the Brazilian graffiti artist, Panmela who is also featured in the film. “I was curious and wanted to know if other art forms were having an impact and then I heard about Panmela who uses her art of public graffiti on the streets of her city in Brazil."

'Using that art to speak out against the traditionally private issue of “domestic violence” made a lot of sense to me. I was really blown away by not only her work which is incredible; but all the outreach that she’s doing in classrooms in getting high school-age boys to talk about domestic violence I think that’s something we were hoping for—getting the men and boys comfortable to discuss some of these issues.”

Sophia found an article on Sister Fa and wanted her to participate in the documentary because of her powerful activist work using her rap and hip-hop music at her concerts to spread her message of human rights.

“Sister Fa is a survivor of female genital mutilation, so she has an inspiring story that motivates her to keep doing her difficult work, Sophia admits. She goes on tour a few times a year depending on the funding she can get— speaking out against female genital cutting as a customary rite of passage for young females which is now illegal, but it’s still being done; and against child marriage. When we spoke over Skype, it was clear that she had a “larger than life” personality and I thought she would be a great story for us to tell.”

A fashion designer improves the life of impoverished African women

Anna Taylor, the fashion designer in the film, is employing three women who used to be earning less than one dollar a day. She’s also regularly employing 200 contract workers, and she has one African woman that she’s mentored and worked with named Judith, which inspired her clothing line, “Judith and James.”

The second name in the fashion line “James” was inspired by a bible verse. Because of Anna’s assistance, Judith has been able to send all nine of her children to school—breaking the cycle of poverty. Judith now runs Anna’s training program for impoverished Kenyan women who desire to become tailors.

Sophia hopes that the film will motivate people to think that they can do something about these widespread female issues.

“The hope is to show these stories of all these women who are all aware of these terrible statistics—They’re aware of how large these issues are but they’re using their skills, creativity, and talent and they’re actually having an incredible impact. If each one of us does our part within our ‘little stones’ in the mosaic there will be a widespread change,” Sophia stated.

These women are now living a success story after emotional trauma and distress—in hopes of changing the world and making a difference, “One little stone at a time.” #International Film Festival #Greenwich International Film Festival