Distributor:  Bullfrog Films
Length:  29 minutes
Date:  2008
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Grade level: 7-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Running On Empty

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Highlights the plight of two young mothers - one in South Wales and the other in Northern Ethiopia.

Life 6 - Running On Empty

In this film, Life highlights the plight of two young mothers living in two very different societies. Dawn lives in South Wales, in one of the poorest districts in the European Union, where over a quarter of all children live in poverty. She has a partner and three children. Her youngest child is David who is one year old. Asemu lives in northern Ethiopia where most of the people are farmers who cannot produce enough food to live on. She has a partner and two children; the youngest Mikiray is eight months old. Both Dawn and Asemu are 22 years old.

David and Mikiray are both at a crucial stage in their development where a healthy diet is fundamental to preventing lifelong problems linked to malnutrition. Both women are aware that their children's diets are poor and that their health is suffering because of this. Asemu's eldest child Bayou is small and seriously underweight with chronic health issues. Dawn's youngest child David is not too small or underweight, but she recognises that she feeds him fatty foods because they are cheaper.

The international community has made a commitment to halve hunger by 2015. Asemu and Debru will tell you it's failing.

'Running on Empty provides a compelling, first-person account of families' struggles with poverty. It can serve [as] a supplemental resource to any course that addresses poverty or international aid. Rich discussions can be generated around the contrasts of living in a developed and a developing economy, of relative versus absolute deprivation, and of the opportunities for advancement that may or may not exist. Other important issues regarding the state's interest/obligation in preserving the quality of family life and the well-being of children and the impact of cultural standards on consumption, parenting, and so on can be raised for discussion...Students and instructors can learn much from this documentary.' Karen A. Callagham, Barry University, Teaching Sociology

'Life 6 is a wonderfully educational series that presents the viewers with the dilemmas faced by specific individuals in the socio-historical and economic context of their communities in the midst of an increasingly globalized world. The tremendous value of this series is that, in the brief thirty minutes that each episode lasts, it captures the complexities of the lives of those in it as they face Western influence that force them to reassert, defend, or challenge their local and/or individual identities, cultures, governance, wealth distribution, and practices of achieving justice and reconciliation--to name a few...Life 6 represents these issues in an objective and analytical way that will--without question--lead into a discussion and debate about them by academics and lay audiences alike.' Aniuska Luna, African Peace and Conflict Network

'Running on Empty should surely spark some lively discussion and debate about `relative deprivation,' the comparatively heavy burden that the poor of the West place on the world versus the poor of the non-West, and the `obligation' of the rich to support the poor. In its 29-minute course, Running on Empty fills our heads, and our hearts, with many things to consider...Suitable for high school and college courses in cultural anthropology, development/applied anthropology, and anthropology of class/poverty, as well as general audiences.' Jack David Eller, Community College of Denver, Anthropology Reviews Online


Main credits

Sullivan, Rob (film director)
Marlow, Emily (film director)
Stewart, Charles (film director)
Kyriacou, Sotira (editor of moving image work)
Richards, Jenny (film producer)
Bradshaw, Steve (host)
Briers, Lucy (narrator)

Other credits

Editor, Sotira Kyriacou; music, Felix Erskine; executive producer, Jenny Richards.

Distributor credits

Television Trust for the Environment

Television Trust for the Environment

Series Editor: Steve Bradshaw
Series Consultant: Jenny Richards
Produced with support from: The European Commission, OXFAM-Novib, UN Population Fund (UNFPA), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), The World Bank, Decade of Roma Inclusion, Open Society Institute

Docuseek2 subjects

Women's Studies
Maternal and Child Health
International Relations and Geopolitics
Multicultural Studies

Distributor subjects

African Studies
Developing World
European Studies
Food And Nutrition
Millennium Development Goals
Multicultural Studies
United Nations
Women's Studies


young mothers, south Wales, Ethiopia, children, poverty, farmers, healthy diet, malnutrition, chronic health issues, underweight, fatty foods; "Running On Empty"; Bullfrog Films

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