A Small Section Of The World Docu Showcasing Unlikely Female Entrepreneurs In Costa Rica

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We are so thankful to live in a world where, despite dismal statistics about women’s rights and women still being treated unfairly compared to men in certain sectors, this is also the time where we are seeing women rise up like never before and being empowered beyond their current situations. A group of unlikely female entrepreneurs from Costa Rica are the subjects of a new documentary called ‘A Small Section Of The World‘.

Lesley Chilcott, who produced and directed ‘Waiting for Superman’ and ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ documentaries, is at the helm of this film which focuses on the Asociacion de Mujeres Organizadas de Biolley (ASOMOBI, one of the places coffee brand Illy sources their coffee from). They are an inspirational group of women from a remote farming region in Costa Rica whose ideas sparked a revolution in the coffee growing world.

“After a crisis, the men of the village left in search of work and the women came together to imagine a different future for themselves, their families and their community by building their own coffee mill. They are the first women’s run micro-mill in their country,” says the website about the women.

“The film follows the impact of this remarkable story of perseverance as it touches lives around the globe and shows how these resourceful women overcame adversity to change the culture within their small section of the world. A story of passion and tenacity, ‘A Small Section of the World’ is about women’s empowerment, the risky business of coffee and how a cup of coffee can transform lives.”

You certainly don’t always think about the subject of female empowerment when you have your morning cup of joe, but perhaps now we all will!

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The story was so inspirational that it got the attention of Grammy award winning singer (and the best selling female rock performer of all time-nbd) Alanis Morissette who wanted to contribute a song to the soundtrack. She teamed up with Costa Rican singer and Grammy winning artist Carlos Tapado Vargas to create a track that was authentic to the film.

“I just basically live for the feminine being and beauty — really talking about it and extolling the virtues of the feminine being celebrated in men and women alike,” Alanis told The Hollywood Reporter of the collaboration.

In fact the title of the movie was taken from a line in her song which sums up the many people around the world who are doing great and inspirational things, but never get the recognition they deserve.

I think about all the people that served so generously in today’s world — whether it’s nurses, hospice workers or teachers, all these people perhaps are paid millions of dollars less than a baseball player in their prime, and yet they’re offering so much of their lives in generosity and expertise. A lot of them are not in the public eye. They don’t have their own YouTube channel. There aren’t millions of followers,” she said, echoing how ridiculous our celebrity-obsessed culture really is. It doesn’t allow us to pay attention to the things that really matter sometimes.

“There’s this gorgeous planetary contribution and evolutionary contribution that’s taking place in a very quiet way. A lot of times, we live in a world where extroversion and warrior-ism wins the day, and the artists and the teachers and the priestesses — these people who provide more subtle contributions — are not publicly acknowledged, so for this to be publicly acknowledged is really heartening.”

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Alanis hopes viewers will recognize the importance of what these women are doing for their community and the greater worldwide impact they are making.

“These women were built to serve; they’re built to fortify the bond of a village, of a community, of a family. So much of their intention behind this was to find ways to create income for their village to the point where people and family members wouldn’t have to leave in order to bring home the proverbial bacon. Their intentionality was to certainly provide a beautiful cup of coffee, but at the same time, the deeper intentionality behind it was to keep their families together, and to keep their culture not fragmented.”

It’s an amazing example of how, when we choose to just show up, stand up, and be present, no matter how insignificant you feel or whether the cultural and financial odds are stacked against you, amazing things can happen.

“For a long time, there was no conversation about women in coffee. But I think Lesley was telling me some 75 percent of coffee-making is done by women. I just think the community of coffee and how the women’s movement conversation can be threaded into it is really exciting and surprising.”

The International Women’s Coffee Alliance states that out of the estimated 1 billion poor people in the world, 70% are women, and women own less than 1% of the world’s titled land. But within these shockingly imbalanced statistics, the Costa Rican female coffee growers are taking their situation and turning it into an opportunity for financial freedom.

“The World Bank estimates that more than 500 million people throughout the world are dependent on coffee for their livelihoods, and of that number, 25 million are coffee farmers,” says the Int’l Women’s Coffee Alliance. “Women, who represent a good majority of coffee farmers, face additional challenges,” accoring to the International Women’s Coffee Alliance. “Aside from the day-to-day struggles women coffee farmers face in order to maintain a respectable standard of living, they also struggle with the gender inequality prevalent throughout the world’s coffee growing regions.”

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Director Lesley Chilcott told Indiewire that she was inspired to tell this story because her husband and her own a farm in Costa Rica and she fell in love with the culture there. She was also stoked that she was able to tell a story about women’s empowerment.

Being a female director, the women’s empowerment aspect is an important thread both on and off screen. In an industry which is male-dominated on all fronts, Lesley hopes she can inspire other female filmmakers to not shrink back if an opportunity comes their way.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to fit in a particular role, i.e., women do this or that. While storytelling is always first, learn the technical side too. It will give you the confidence to make the right decisions about telling your story.”

The fact that she was focusing on a group of women helped her somewhat when she was getting funding.

“Illy has 47% women in their company; ASOMOBI is all women. So I took a chance, and I’m really happy I did. In the end, Illy gave me final cut, and I was able to tell the story I wanted to tell.”

There are so many incredible stories about women and their lives that need to be told. Hollywood certainly isn’t always going to take up the baton, which is why it is vital more females becomes directors, writers, producers and filmmakers. Start where you are and with what you have, this is what the women in ‘A Small Section Of The World’ have done and look at the impact they are making.

The film is available on demand starting December 16. You can watch the trailer below in the meantime:

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