the future of girls’ education in Afghanistan, “white savior narratives,” and documentary as an antidote to compassion fatigue

Daniela Petrova interviews Beth Murphy in Guernica:

Beth-Murphy-min“En route to Kabul…I met an elderly woman who was traveling from Omaha to visit her extended family in Afghanistan,” writes documentarian Beth Murphy in the Huffington Post. “When I told her I was on my way to work on a project focused on girls’ education, she shook her head at me and drew a finger across her throat.” For the past six years, Murphy has ignored spoken and unspoken dangers and continued making regular trips to a village outside of Kabul to film her latest feature documentary, What Tomorrow Brings. The film chronicles life in a K-12 girls’ school from its inception to the first class of graduating students.

Murphy’s belief in the power of education stems from her upbringing as the daughter of teachers. “The love of learning was with me every day,” she explains in the interview that follows. Growing up in a small New England town in the ’70s and ’80s, Murphy experienced the ascent of second-wave feminism. In college, she took classes that explored women’s rights, but didn’t have to look far for proof that the empowerment of girls and women started with education: her own mother was the first in her family to attend college. After studying history and, later, working in radio news, Murphy first tried her hand at documentary filmmaking while completing a program at George Washington University’s Documentary Center. She later earned a master’s degree in international relations and international communications from Boston University. Murphy’s skill for storytelling seems at once innate and a product of early experiences. She credits the CBS Reports she watched growing up for inspiring an interest in documentary.

More here.