This Friday I have difficult but worthwhile recommendations for you.
The film I'm recommending is Yesterday (South Africa 2004).
This is the first film ever filmed in the Zulu language. It is beautiful and heartbreaking and very thought-provoking on the topics of forgiveness, unconditional love and how one can choose to live life knowing the end is near, selfishly or selflessly.
I'm borrowing Jeff Shannon's review from Amazon as it's been too long since I saw the film to do it justice.
As beautiful as it is heartbreaking, the Oscar®-nominated drama Yesterday brings an intimate human perspective to the AIDS crisis in Africa. On the surface, it's a harsh and devastating story about bad things happening to good people, but such a limited description robs the film of its warmth and tender compassion. Best known for his 1995 drama Cry the Beloved Country, director Darrell James Roodt returns to his native South Africa for this moving and heartfelt portrait of a young, devoted mother named Yesterday (played by Leleti Khumalo, from Hotel Rwanda) who learns that she is HIV positive, and remains determined to stay alive until her young daughter Beauty (Lihle Mvelase) is old enough to go off to school. Her husband (Kenneth Khambula) is also stricken with AIDS, and Yesterday cares for him even as they are ostracized by fearful neighbors in their tiny Zulu village. One might expect a film about AIDS to be terribly depressing, and Roodt pulls no punches when conveying the emotional anguish of Yesterday's dilemma. But Yesterday is so visually beautiful in terms of its physical and spiritual landscape (it was filmed in the expansive KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa) that it's universally appealing, and the score by Madale Kunene adds just the right emotional seasoning to the film's ethnic roots. Anyone with a beating heart can relate to Yesterday's plight as a caring wife and mother, and Khumalo's performance is so lovely that she lights up the screen, even (and perhaps especially) during Yesterday's darkest hours. Without pounding on its point, Yesterday puts a human face on a global crisis that's too often viewed on impersonal terms. --Jeff Shannon
See it...you won't regret it!
The book I'm recommending is Desert Flower by Waris Dirie.
Waris Dirie was born into a nomadic tribe in Somalia. At the age of 5 she was subjected to FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and at the age of 13 she ran away to escape an arranged marriage to a much older man. She eventually made it to London where she worked as a housemaid until she was discovered and catapulted to the status of "super model" in the 90s. Her book talks about her personal experiences but also focuses on the horror of FGM. She now works as a UN ambassador for women's issues, specifically FGM. I implore every woman to educate herself about FGM and this woman's personal account of its effect on her life is an excellent way to do so.
Some people would argue that it's not our place to impose our values on other cultures...I say that's bullshit. Some things are inherently wrong and should be stopped. FGM is one of those things. Please check out the UN page on FGM for more information as well.