3+ years in the making, the feature documentary, Small Small Thing – directed by Jessica Vale, produced by Nika Offenbac and Jessica Vale, and co-produced by Barnie Jones – is the story of a mother and daughter in Liberia, who find themselves challenged between tradition and modernity, when it is discovered that the 9-year-old had been brutally raped 2 years prior.
The film begins with the discovery of a nine year old girl in the hospital, severely malnourished and handicapped. Believing the cause of her injuries to be witchcraft, the village elders (and her mother) hide the girl for 2 years as her condition worsens. A visiting medical team draws the conclusion that she was brutally raped. The film follows the journey over the course of the next 9 months, as the life of this little girl and her mother, shunned from their village for seeking outside help.
Small Small Thing is the result of the investigations by the filmmakers, revealing what they call “an intricate web of corruption, adventure and hope.”
There’s a lot more to this story, so feel free to visit the project’s website HERE.
The film will made its world premiere at the 2013 Dallas International Film Festival, and went on to win numerous awards, including The Grand Jury Prize and The Women’s Film Critic Circle Award at the 2014 Rated SR Film Festival, and a Special Jury Award at the Pan African Film Festival.
It is now set to have its New York City theatrical premiere at The Quad Cinema, in a week-long run, from June 6 – June 12, 2014.
Unfortunately, the young girl who is at the center of the film, Olivia Zinnah, didn’t get to see the completed film because, very sadly, she died on December 20, 2012, as a result of the long-term complications of the brutal rape she suffered at age 7.
She was 13 at the time of her death.
In a statement, director Vale said:
“I hope the release of ‘Small Small Thing’ will pressure the
Liberian government to find Olivia’s accused rapist and bring him to
trial… Olivia was Liberian, but her voice is global. How many times,
in how many countries does this have to happen for people to pay
In Zinnah’s honor, a scholarship has been set up in her name – The Olivia Zinnah Scholarship Fund. Created by Mawata Kamara (founder of Holistic Education Advocating Leadership (HEAL), a nonprofit organization dedicated to “tackling the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in Liberia and West Africa”), the scholarship will be awarded to 1 high school girl in Liberia each year for continuing education in the medical field. The recipient must fulfill community service hours working with NGO sponsors HEAL and THINK, in addition to maintaining academic success.
According to UN statistics, rape is still the #1 crime in Liberia, despite President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s efforts (and Nobel Peace Prize); the majority of the victims are said to be children – some as young as 2 years old.
Watch the film’s trailer below: