Film spotlights efforts to end tribal infanticide

“Omo Child: The River and the Bush” depicts the efforts to rescue and provide care for children saved from infanticide in Ethiopia. Lale Labuko is pictured with some of the children rescued. The film will have its East Coast debut Friday at the Charleston Film Festival.

Early in his career, filmmaker John Rowe enlisted as a photographer in the Navy before studying management at the University of Southern California following the Vietnam War.

His studies led to a position coordinating security and travel for the U.S. Secretary of State. During his travels, he spent a lot of time working in Africa, Southeast Asia, India, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, China and Japan, where he began his fascination with foreign culture.

He returned to the States and found his way into the business of introducing video game manufacturers such as Nintendo, Sega and Sony to American markets, using the profits to travel as a photographer and filmmaker.

He visited the Omo Valley in southwest Ethiopia in 2004 on a National Geographic assignment and met guide and translator Lale Labuko, forging a friendship and partnership as Labuko introduced Rowe to his Kara tribe and the Hamer tribe. From Labuko, Rowe learned of an infanticide practice performed by the tribes in their effort to combat an ancient curse believed to threaten the tribes’ survival.

Infanticide customs has been practiced by tribes of nearly every continent throughout human history, usually due to a child’s physical or perceived mental defect, but the Kara and Hamer are among some of the last to still sacrifice their young. Known as mingi, the tribes have a host of reasons to warrant the act, including children born out of wedlock, born as twins, those whose upper teeth emerge faster than their bottom teeth or the chipping of a tooth.

Labuko introduced Rowe to the mingi children he had personally rescued and asked for his help in rescuing more and working with the tribal leaders to officially ban the practice. Together they formed the nonprofit Omo Child and began work to restore water to the region and teach agricultural and medical techniques to improve the tribes’ sustainability and eliminate the belief of a curse and need for mingi.

Rowe’s film follows their work with the Kara and Hamer, with proceeds going to help their efforts to provide care for the mingi children and put an end to infanticide in all Omoitic tribes around Ethiopia.

The film’s insight into tribal beliefs illuminate conversations on societal ostracism, education, tradition, unity and the complications of survival.

“Omo Child: The River and the Bush” will have its East Coast debut Friday at the Charleston Film Festival. The screening is scheduled for the festival’s first block at 3 p.m. at the Charleston Music Hall. It will be preceded by the short film “Une Passion D’or et de Feu.” Tickets are $10 at the box office or online at

As the Fail sisters grapple with their impending, but unknown deaths, love begins to befall them one by one.

It sounds terribly depressing, the makings pure tear-jerking drama fit for a dark room, alone with bottle in hand, during break-up recovery, but it’s a surprising dark comedy from Philip Dawkins that has more to say about life than death.

Set in 1920s America, the play makes use of the Jazz Age in its music, costuming and themes, using the backdrop of a country facing its own economic peril to enhance the tone of doom. And if that wasn’t enough to highlight the weight of time upon us all, the Fail sisters each work in their family’s clock shop after the unexpected deaths of their parents.

The lives of the Fails change when a dashing young man “so successful he’s named after himself” Mortimer Mortimer enters the shop. One after another, the sisters fall in love with Mortimer, and one after another, their time expires.

Meanwhile, the sisters’ younger brother, John, has all but resigned from human interest and instead aspires to be a veterinarian, focusing most of his attention on his pet dog, parakeet and boa constrictor. As his sisters pass away, John grows more invested in his animals until he and a grieving Mortimer are eventually left to care for each other.

Pure Theatre’s production of the play offers a vision from director Rodney Lee Rogers and Halsey exhibiting artist Susan Klein. The play will run Nov. 5-28, Thursdays-Saturdays. Tickets are $22-$30 and are available at the Pure Theatre box office, 477 King Street, or online at Call 843-723-4444 or go to for more information.

Taking its television crop on an arena tour has been a challenge for shows like “X Factor” and “American Idol,” as most of the artists don’t have original material or a loyal following, and audiences are subjected to genres of music they wouldn’t have otherwise paid to hear.

NBC’s “Last Comic Standing,” now in its ninth season, has been more successful with its recent tours for a simple reason: In stand-up, you’re either funny or you’re not. And you sure better be original. The simplicity of comedy’s effect allows it to transcend genres more easily, but it’s still a tightrope act for the comics.

The show’s last season saw a fairly wide range of comedic styles in the top five. Atlanta-based winner Clayton English, Andy Erickson, Dominique, Ian Bagg and Michael Palascak all varied in perspective, content and delivery, but none are so polarizing that the middle ground dissolves into an ocean of offended, confused or outraged audiences.

Relatable and funny has paid off for the “Last Comic Standing” tours, drawing in large and diverse audiences across the country.

The Last Comic Standing Tour will make its stop in the Lowcountry on Thursday at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50-$44.50 and are available at the PAC box office or online at

Go to or call 843-529-5000 for more information.

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