“The fistula patients will break your heart,” Australian doctors Catherine and Reginald Hamlin were warned when they came to Ethiopia in 1959. Mary Olive Smith’s documentary profiles five women from isolated rural communities who developed obstetric fistulas after prolonged obstructed deliveries. Leaking bodily waste, they’re ostracized and abandoned. A relatively simple surgery can correct the condition, but superstition, poverty and hundreds of miles stand between the women and hospitals like the Hamlins’, in distant Addis Ababa. Smith’s film is a pure, unabashed humanitarian call to action, but her subjects are eloquent and her cause unimpeachable, Oprah-ization notwithstanding.
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