Co-directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack present a lovingly crafted and comprehensive portrait of the esteemed Dr. Maya Angelou. The story is told by Angelou herself, along with a cast of contemporaries from her careers as actress, writer, poet and activist. In chronicling Angelou’s life from her youth in the Depression-era South through her rise to international prominence, the film is a vital document about the importance of grace, dignity and the quest for peace. — Chad Eberle
This clip from MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE features footage from Maya Angelou’s days as a calypso singer/dancer and interviews with Diahann Carroll and Don Martin.
The film screens as part of AFI DOCS June 22-26, 2016 in Washington, DC. Get Tickets Here.
Bangladeshi Climber Shares Her Spiritual Journey For The Women Of Her Country
Wasfia Nazreen‘s story will captivate you. We first came to know the Bangladeshi climber and activist when she was honored as one of our Nat Geo Adventurers of the Year for her quest to become the first person from her country to ascent the Seven Summits—and inspire the women and girls of her country to follow their own paths in life. Since climbing Carstenz Pyramid in 2015, her final of the seven summits, the newly named 2016 National Geographic Emerging Explorer has been hard at work on her forthcoming Ösel Foundation, which she describes as an “educational institute set in the outdoors, which integrates the latest scientific findings about development of the mind and combines it with mindfulness techniques and training in nature to empower adolescent girls.” A new film entitled Wasfia, which takes us along to see what motivates her to use mountains to strive for cultural change, will premiere this weekend at Mountainfilm in Telluride, Colorado. (See times and locations.)
We spoke to Nazreen about her life and the new film. Come back on Monday, May 30, when we will post the film exclusively on NationalGeographic.com.
I love when you say, “if anything natures conquers you,” in the new film about your life, Wasfia. When did you come to understand this?
I have been extremely blessed this lifetime to be introduced to nature and wildlife from very early on in my life–whether that was through upbringing near the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world or living in Chittagong in close proximity with the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Growing up in Bangladesh, I witnessed natural disasters as long as I can remember–hurricanes, floods, typhoons, cyclones–you name it. As a child, one of my earliest memories is, having to wade out of our living room in boats when the floods came every year. All the pets and animals that lived on our land, would be struggling to swim across with us–the dogs would eventually be rescued out of water, and so on. Abbu, my father was in shipping so we also got to witness the wrath of raging Bay of Bengal a lot as kids.
Even though all these experiences combined instilled the exposures required to realize firsthand who was the real boss–I think people in general in my region and culture, from time immemorial treated nature differently. For example the mountains are referred as gods and goddesses. So I always found it strange, when people so gallantly proclaim to have “conquered” an entire mountain, which is also a very patriarchal perspective if you think about it. Before summit bids on big mountains, the usual scene is that everyone’s praying and promising of things they’d do only if allowed for that one short window to open up just so we can stand on top in all her glory for a brief moment. Therefore, it’s really a process of surrendering to nature and then if it’s your time, she will most likely bless you.