Ok/Alright Productions
Women make paper in "A Ripple in the Water: Healing Through Art," a film playing in Utah in honor of International Women's Day.

Kim Berman was born in South Africa, born white in an educated and artistic family. She grew up knowing apartheid was wrong. Berman became an artist, and her prints showed the struggles of the resistance.

"A Ripple in the Water" is a documentary film about Berman's life and how her creativity and passion for justice eventually led to a livelihood for hundreds of South African artists. The Salt Lake Film Center will present a free screening of the film Saturday, in honor of International Women's Day.

Narrated by Charlayne Hunter-Gault — and produced by Eileen M. Foti and Patricia Piroh, with direction by Lawrence Londino — this film does not make the most of the tragedies and triumphs of its subjects. The script tends toward platitudes.

In the end, though, you get fascinating glimpses into the lives of South Africans, enough at least to draw you in.

After Berman graduated from college in Johannesburg, she attended graduate school in the U.S. She stayed for seven years. In February 1990, she watched on television as Nelson Mandela was released from prison and felt compelled to go home.

Back in Johannesburg, Berman started something called the Artists' Proof Studios. She took in poor youths and taught them how to make prints, and eventually how to read and do math as well. She urged them to use their art to raise social awareness, to explore the fact that one-fourth of their country is HIV positive.

Eventually, Berman received government grants to start papermaking and embroidery projects in the rural parts of the country. She seems to be bringing a certain amount of hope to villages that are being decimated by AIDS.

You may come away from this documentary wanting to help. The scenes of the orphans dancing and smiling and the sounds of the women singing away their grief are the most touching moments in the film.

If you go

What: A Ripple in the Water: Healing Through Art, a documentary film

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Where: The Black Box, Utah Opera Production Studios, 336 N. 400 West

How much: Free

Phone: 746-7000

Web: www.slcfilmcenter.org

E-mail: susan@desnews.com