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updated: 1/22/2013 8:31 AM

'Girl Rising' spotlights need for girls' education

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Associated Press

PARK CITY, Utah -- Just because a film isn't finished doesn't mean it can't get buzz at Sundance.

Director Richard Robbins showed about 10 minutes of his new movie, "Girl Rising," at the independent-film festival Monday, even though he still has a few weeks of post-production work to do on the project.

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The film tells the stories of nine girls from different developing countries and shows how access to education would change their lives.

Robbins, who works as a writer for TV's "Scandal," said he had hoped to finish the film in time to compete or premiere at Sundance, but after visiting 10 countries in 12 months gathering footage, he just couldn't make it in time. Still, he wanted to generate interest in the film, which is set for release in March.

It is being distributed by CNN Films and Gather, an on-demand distribution platform that allows those interested in the film to request a theatrical showing in their neighborhood.

Actress Freida Pinto introduced "Girl Rising" Monday at Sundance by sharing some powerful statistics: There are 66 million girls who are not in school; 14 million girls under 18 who will be married this year; and 150 million girls are victims of sexual violence each year.

"No one is more vulnerable than an uneducated girl," she said. "Making a girl aware of her fundamental human rights through education can change all that."

Girls who are educated marry later, have fewer and healthier children, achieve self-sufficiency and continue the cycle of education with their own children, Pinto said.

"If you educate girls, you will change the world," she said.

The film features the voices of Meryl Streep, Salma Hayek, Kerry Washington, Alicia Keys, Cate Blanchett and Selena Gomez, among others.

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