Beauty in the Unexpected

"Beauty in the Unexpected"

In a reflective short documentary, Linda Higdon tells the story of leaving her career in classical piano to discover a daring new realm to express her soul-stirring creativity amidst the African AIDS pandemic. Beginning with a friendship with an intrepid Kenyan woman, she embarks on a 15-year journey working passionately with indigenous women in villages, slums, and tribal regions of Kenya.

Accessing decades of being a creative to help them improve lives of the forgotten, Linda realizes over time that these women have become her spiritual messengers revealing hidden worlds of unexpected beauty that lay right before her very eyes.

Director Biography

A champion for global women, Linda Higdon is a filmmaker, performing artist, philanthropic visionary, and photographer. Over the past 15 years, she has been “on the ground”, working, traveling, and building relationships with women who are igniting change in the developing world. She has a deep passion for introducing open-spirited women to these extraordinary women leaders who have transformed her life and seeks to help others take a similar enriching experience on a “Women’s Journey to Kenya!”

From her work on international women’s issues in Washington DC to the villages of Kenya she is a global voice for women. As a creative she holds a Performance Degree in Classical Piano and studied at L’Ecole Normale de Musique, Paris. Her work as an artist has been represented in galleries across the country.
As a filmmaker, "Beauty in the Unexpected" is her first short documentary a portrayal of hidden lives of women in some of the farthest reaches of the world who hold secrets of the heart.

Director Statement

I have traveled to Kenya over the past 15 years working with women winning landmark cases for girls' rights to leaders in the villages, tea fields, and slums of Nairobi. I have documented their lives in a vast collection of photos and film footage. In 2016 I teamed up with Chicago filmmaker, Eric Koppen, who accompanied me to Kenya to capture more richly the lives of the Kenyan women and children I work with. Over the period of one year, we painstakingly combed through hundreds of hours of photos and film to create a short documentary, "Beauty in the Unexpected", my personal story of transformation by allowing unexpected messengers guide me into hidden worlds of discovery.

Our commitment from inception to completion was to stay true to the authenticity and inherent beauty of their lives as seen through my lens.

There are woefully few films that speak to women like me, “aging boomers”, that are not fixated on the clichés of violence, poverty, corruption, or oppressive hardship when talking about this area of the world. This is not my experience of working in Kenya, nor does it represent, in the least, the spirit of the women I call my global sisters.

In the film I focus on a phenomenon I call the rising "Global Heart". It is what happens when women shed the superficiality of their Western culture, assumptions about the developing world and step into the expansive, open-hearted and deeply grounded spirituality of women in the developing world - not to help them, but to allow them to help us! And to guide us in the most unlikely ways so we can retrieve parts of ourselves that somehow we’ve lost along the way. This film is about the power of women's global friendships to transform!

Production Photos

Team Biographies

ERIC KOPPEN
Cinematographer and Editor, “Beauty in the Unexpected”

Eric began his filmmaking career working on narrative films. He graduated from Columbia College of Chicago with a Bachelor's Degree in Film and Video, specializing in Cinematography. After a few years of working on a variety of narrative shorts and feature films around Chicago, Eric began teaching courses at Columbia, focusing on camera work, technology and techniques.

Eric has always held a passion for wildlife and humanitarian issues and switched gears to use his filmmaking skills to benefit these efforts, focusing on producing documentaries for non-profit organizations around the world. He graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Master's Degree in Zoology, specializing in film's capabilities to communicate Conservation issues. He has spent time filming Wildlife Conservation efforts and humanitarian organizations in Central America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

His most recent travels have found him filming charity dental work on the Maasai in Kenya as well as filming whale sharks in Mexico as part of an ongoing worldwide global tracking program. In 2016 he accompanied “Women’s Journey to Kenya” with founder, Linda Higdon, to capture the daily lives of Kenyan women in remote regions, tribal areas, the villages, as well as in the slums of Nairobi for the purpose of creating a short documentary with a powerful message to Western women.

PAUL HIGDON
Producer, “Beauty in the Unexpected”

Paul has straddled a successful career as an international corporate banker while working on the ground in Kenya for the past 15 years. As a global advocate for women and children, he has worked with top female leaders in Kenya, mentored youth living in poverty, and serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Ripples International, a prominent children’s welfare operation. He joins our tour to add colorful commentary and tantalizing insights on Kenya’s history, society, economics, culture, and religion. Paul holds academic degrees in philosophy, politics and economics from Cornell University, Oxford University, and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Studies. In 2015, he received the Global Volunteer Award from Bank of America for his work in Kenya.