In “Shout Gladi Gladi,” the idea of health as a foundation for a strong nation is explored through the work of Ann Gloag, a Scottish nurse turned philanthropist.
Her Freedom From Fistula Foundation seeks to eradicate the condition of obstetric fistula, a horrific injury that can occur when complications during birth are not properly addressed with an emergency cesarean section. Other cases of traumatic fistula are the result of sexual violence.
The condition causes incontinence, so many women with it become outcasts in their villages, shunned from normal life.
Despite the difficulty in reaching these women, and despite the social stigma, Gloag and her team are determined to eradicate fistula with their treatment centers, maternal health outreach programs and efforts to bring proper maternal care to the poorest slums and most rural villages in Africa.
Narrated by Meryl Streep and directed by Adam Friedman and Iain Kennedy, the film can feel like an infomercial for the foundation, but that doesn’t stop the power of the stories from coming through. Ultimately, the film argues that health is at the core of a successful society and asserts that when all people are healthy, the society’s focus can be education, business development and community.
It’s not all serious though: The foundation takes care to make sure it’s a joyful process, and as the patients graduate and return to their homes, they join in a celebration called Gladi Gladi. No longer outcasts, it’s a true opportunity to raise their voices in triumph.
“Shout Gladi Gladi.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes. Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall, Beverly Hills.