|I Am Because We Are|
Nathan Rissman and Madonna at the film's premiere
|Directed by||Nathan Rissman|
|Produced by||Madonna, Angela Becker|
|Music by||Patrick Leonard|
|Cinematography||Kevin Brown, Grant James, Nathan Rissman, Marc Shap, John Martin White|
|Editing by||Danny Tull|
|Distributed by||Semtex Films|
|Release date(s)||Tribeca Film Festival:
April 24, 2008 (US)
Cannes Film Festival:
May 21, 2008 (France)
Traverse City Film Festival:
April 24, 2008 (US)
December 1, 2008 (USA)
December 4, 2008 (Netherlands)
January 14, 2009 (France)
You Tube/Hulu Internet:
March 26, 2009
|Running time||90 mins. approx|
|Country||UK, USA, Malawi|
The film premiered at the 7th annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York, USA, on April 24, 2008 and at the 61st annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 21, 2008. The movie also headlined the 2008 Traverse City Film Festival.
It premiered in the US on The Sundance Channel on December 1, World AIDS Day.
This movie documents the concern over the millions of orphans in the African country of Malawi who have lost parents and siblings to HIV and AIDS, many of whom live on the streets. The film also shows the efforts with Madonna's charitable organisation Raising Malawi in helping with improving their lives and conditions.
Madonna said about the film: "To say that this film is a labor of love is trivial. It's also the journey of a lifetime. I hope you all are as inspired watching it as I was making it."
A companion book containing 180 pages with 106 duotone and 44 four-color photographs taken during the visit, as well as stills from the video was released in January 2009. Author proceeds from the sale of the book were to be donated to the charitable organization Raising Malawi for their extensive work with orphans throughout Malawi.
The title is derived from former Archbishop of Cape Town and anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu's words. "Ubuntu" is an idea present in African spirituality that says "I am because we are" - or we are all connected, we cannot be ourselves without community, health and faith are always lived out among others, an individual’s well being is caught up in the well being of others.
The movie received positive reviews in the media. The Times, giving it 4 out of 5 stars, wrote: "This rich material makes for a completely absorbing film. Certain scenes, such as women and children literally dying of AIDS in front of the camera, drew gasps from the shocked audience in the screening room at Cannes. It's impossible to tear your eyes away from the screen. Not that the film portrays Malawian people as innocent victims of circumstances beyond their control. Rissman doesn't shy away from the culture of drinking, crime and violence that is prevalent in the country. Together, he and Madonna have made a shocking and incredibly moving film that is much more than an extended Comic Relief appeal."
A news article in The Guardian said: "Madonna the documentary-maker came, saw and conquered the world's biggest film festival yesterday with a powerful polemic on the effects of disease and poverty on Malawi...The queen of reinvention presented her film, I Am Because We Are, which she wrote and produced, to general acclaim. Alongside her was her former gardener Nathan Rissman, who directed."
The movie was shown at the 2008 Traverse City Film Festival, held from July 29 to August 3. Michael Moore, who founded the festival, said in May 2008 about the movie: "I saw her film a month ago and was so deeply moved in a way that rarely happens with movies these days. I asked her immediately if she would come to our festival and she said, 'yes.' I have known her for years and she is truly one of the most caring and generous people I have met. Her presence here in Traverse City will have a profound impact on people." In the fall of 2008, Madonna released a video message announcing plans to build a school in Malawi, the Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.