“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. A mentor is someone who allows you to know that no matter how dark the night, in the morning joy will come. A mentor is someone who allows you to see the higher part of yourself when sometimes it becomes hidden to your own view.”
Those who move through life without the guidance, support, and inspiration of mentors and muses are few and far between. Everyone has at some point looked up to someone in the public eye and gleaned a greater sense of one’s self, while most have, in critical moments, been taken under another’s wing and given a bit of direction in life – whether that person be a teacher, coach, neighbor, community leader, or maybe even that record store clerk who gave you a musical recommendation that changed your perception of the world forever. You never know who or when someone might leave their mark. These are the folks that not only help mold one’s sense of being, but light that torch from within that guides us forward, inspiring and challenging us to be better, stronger, and wiser than we thought possible.
And who better to set such an example than Oprah? An immensely influential figure of feminine power, success, grace, and generosity, she’s inspired countless people around the globe and even has a brief appearance in Tiffany Shlain’s celebratory 50/50: RETHINKING THE PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE OF WOMEN + POWER, a short that recontextualizes the historical role of women in positions of political power and highlights how mentorships can bear immense societal returns on their emotional investments. The dynamic, fearless women featured in Shlain’s film serve as female figures of motivational inspiration, challenging society’s gender norms while the women it features look to one another for counseling and guidance.
Thanks to the media, body image activist Taryn Brumfitt has also been setting a positive example for women the world over, as can be witnessed in her uplifting travel doc EMBRACE. In her travels she visits dignified women of all backgrounds and body types, each of whom set a new example of how women’s bodies can be beautiful in their uniqueness along the way. Likewise, in VESSEL, doctor and Greenpeace worker Rebecca Gomperts casts off in a rugged little ship with her newly formed organization Women On Waves, which provides abortion services in countries where it is illegal. The result? She’s inspired women to take action for themselves and to form grassroots activist groups around the globe.
Mentorship bubbles up from the heart of THE REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISTS, in which a former lawyer named Amlan Ganguly works with children from the slums of Kolkata in hopes of bringing education, recreation, and hope to a portion of Indian society that has long been left to the gutter. With encouragement from Ganguly, the children find self-confidence and the ambition to engage with their community to constitute real change.
Up north, gender norms are challenged as Iranian physics teacher Asghar Kabiri serves as mentor and fellow star gazer to Sepideh Hooshyar, a teenage girl who dreams of becoming an astronaut in the heartrending SEPIDEH: REACHING FOR THE STARS, while the Mongolian set THE EAGLE HUNTRESS sees 13-year-old Aisholpan, with help from her father and mentor Nurgaiv, train to become the first female in 12 generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter. Without the generous guidance and encouragement from those older and wiser, where would they be today?
These six wonderful films celebrate mentors and muses for all their affirmative influence on us, inspiring us to better ourselves, seek out new experiences, and engage with our communities in new, overwhelmingly positive ways.
50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women in Power
What will it take to get to a 50/50 world—not just in politics and boardrooms, but to truly shift the gender balance to be better for everyone? Through a cinematic-thought-essay style, the film explores where we really are on the greater arc of history of women and power.
When Body Image Activist Taryn Brumfitt posted an unconventional before-and-after photo in 2013 it was seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and sparked an international media frenzy. EMBRACE follows Taryn’s crusade as she explores the global issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies.
VESSEL depicts medical doctor and Greenpeace worker Rebecca Gomperts who, horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion laws around the world, provides abortions on a ship in offshore waters. Her project – Women on Waves – becomes a media frenzy, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockades.
The Revolutionary Optimists
THE REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISTS follows former lawyer Amlan Ganguly who empowers children from the slums of Kolkata to become agents of change – battling poverty and transforming their neighborhoods with dramatic results.
Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars
Can a young Iranian woman become an astronaut? SEPIDEH: REACHING FOR THE STARS is the story of a remarkable teenage girl named Sepideh who defies societal expectations and courageously works to make her dream come true.
The Eagle Huntress
Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe, THE EAGLE HUNTRESS follows 13-year-old Aisholpan, the first female in 12 generations of her Kazakh family training to become an eagle hunter.