In December 2012, Olivia Zinnah, age 12, died of septic shock from a bowel obstruction. Her death was a result of complications from surgeries intended to repair the extensive injuries she sustained when she was raped at the age of seven. This is her story.
Small Small Thing begins at JFK Hospital in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, and urban center of this West African country. Olivia Zinnah is 9 years old, severely malnourished and handicapped. Her condition is life threatening. Believing her injuries to be the result of witchcraft, Olivia's mother had been hiding her in their village for years. The doctors conclude her condition is the result of a brutal rape that took place when Olivia was 7 years old. When pressured to reveal her rapist, Olivia names her cousin.
This diagnosis has severe consequences. Originally from deep in the Liberian jungle, Olivia and her mother are shunned from their tribe for seeking outside help. They are left stranded in Monrovia at the mercy of President Sirleaf's government, facing the most difficult decision of all. What price are they willing to pay for justice?
"Riveting and infuriating all at once!" - LA Weekly
"Looking into Olivia's huge brown eyes, full of hope despite everything...There is no gore here, and no on-screen violence, but this is in every way a horror movie." - The NY Times
"Jessica Vale's wrenching documentary examines the cultural underpinnings of sexual violence in Liberia, along with the seeming impossibility of effecting justice for its youngest victims... Vale effectively shines a light on the horrible plight of young girls and women in an often brutal, still largely tribal culture. A profoundly sad but eye opening documentary, this is recommended." - Video Librarian Magazine
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