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Nada Markovic, Bui My Hanh, and Jacqueline "Madame Urbain" Dembele are three women making the world a better place in a tangible way. Tom Cappello's moving documentary follows each of them as they go about the daily business of empowering, educating, and seeking justice, weaving through locations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mali, Vietnam and to tell a tale of hope much larger than the sum of its parts. Shot with a fly-on-the-wall observational style and light on music and visual effects, A Powerful Noise is a film that sneaks up on you, earning the call to action at its end by focusing on the subtle aspects of making change. Hanh, founder of a support group in Vietnam for people living with HIV/AIDS, finds the lecture she had planned to give at a coal mine cancelled at the last minute. The indefatigable Madame Urbain stares down a steely gallery of rural village elders and tells them they must educate their girls. Markovic, working to bring together Bosnian and Serb women by expanding economic opportunities for both, pitches a skeptical banker her plan to create an agricultural cooperative. Shadowed by war, by poverty, and by longstanding traditions in each of their cultures that seek to mute the voices of women rather than raise them, Hanh, Markovic, and Madame Urbain fight and fight against the odds, winning some battles, losing others. Cappello gives these women their due by letting their stories speak for themselves.
Director's Statement Collapse
In 2006, producer Scott Thigpen hired me to collaborate on a film focused on empowered women making a difference in underprivileged communities around the world. We began a journey to find three women who symbolized extraordinary strength, courage and determination—women who were making a real difference in the fight against global poverty. Beyond that, we wanted to show what marginalized women and girls can accomplish if given the chance in the face of great odds. Initially, as a first-time feature film director, I was excited and awed by this task. There were endless stories of women who were improving their communities and their countries. Ultimately, we found three women who compel viewers to truly empathize with their activism. Each woman has different levels of strength and selflessness that drew me into their world during filming and continued to astound me in the edit room.
Bui My Hanh has overcome the stigma and discrimination of being HIV-positive in Vietnam and the tragic death of her child and husband to AIDS. Hanh's quiet strength and willingness to bare her soul on camera shows us how she is changing hearts and minds of local citizens to embrace people living with HIV. The word “dynamic” is the only way to describe Madame Jacqueline Dembele Goita. Known as “Madame Urbain” to locals, Jacqueline is a living, rare example of a female allowed to attend and finish school in the country of Mali. Her fervor for ending the exploitation of migrant girls who were denied an education jumps off the screen. And Nada Markovic takes the term “working, single mother” to a level that I have never witnessed. Twelve years after unimaginable bloodshed that left Bosnia in ruins, Nada is raising three children and operating a women's association that helps families put aside their ethnic differences to rebuild their communities. Nada's hopeful ideals and real solutions clamor for us to not forget Bosnia.
Documenting the lives of these three remarkable women is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I observed firsthand the influence of infinite humanity. Each individual story is an exceptional, startling human journey told through their eyes and in their voice. In the end, the unique perspectives of these three women combine to create an unprecedented film about the power of the human spirit and the potential women have to change the world at large. They just need our encouragement and support, and I hope you will be moved to lend your voice and energy to the solidarity of women around the world.
Film Information Collapse
Cast & Credits Collapse
Producer Scott Thigpen
Editor/Co-Producer Jennifer Finneran
Executive Producer Sheila Johnson
Production Manager Allison Troxell
Directors of Photography Nick Higgins, Richard Ladkani
Connect to this film Collapse
About the Director(s)Collapse
Tom Cappello served as supervising producer on The History Channel series Deep Sea Detectives. He also wrote and directed multiple episodes. He produced National Geographic Explorer: Super Sub, about the submarines of navies around the world. Subsequently, Cappello wrote and field produced an episode entitled "Home Base," about the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, for the American Public Television series Great Museums. Cappello began his career at Turner Entertainment, producing commercial and interactive television for TNT, TBS, The Cartoon Network, and Turner Sports.