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Can FilmAid Make the World a Better Place?

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by Anthony Kaufman
November 11, 2011 8:27 AM
2 Comments
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Can movies make the world a better place? Yes, they can! The folks at FilmAid International, a humanitarian organization that harnesses the power of film to help refugees the world over, has been doing just that: offering screenings of educational films and entertaining indies and documentaries to refugee camps, and empowering locals to make their own movies.

Last night, the organization hosted a benefit at the home of producer Tom Fontana ("Homicide: Life on the Street"), where actors, activists and film notables, including Liz Manne (FilmAid's exec director), producer Caroline Baron ("Capote"), Anjelica Huston, Sony Pictures Classics' Tom Bernard, Fintage House CEO Robbert Aarts, and Bell Lightbox's Noah Cowan gathered together to honor and raise money for the group.

Founded during the Balkan crisis in 1999 by Baron after she learned about the problems facing hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees, FilmAid has worked in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other global aid organizations to bring film-based programs to people om Kenya (in camps on the borders of Somalia and South Sudan), in Haiti, and along the Thai-Burma border.

If you think Westerners sometimes need a break from our economic doldroms and quotidien concerns by going out to the movies, just think what it must be like for refugees, fleeing civil war or famine, stuck in remote camps in the middle of nowhere. Last year, together with the Sundance Initiative FilmForward, FilmAid showed films like Jennifer Arnold's "A Small Act" and Taika Waititi's "Boy."

As Liz Manne told the New York Times Magazine this past July. “In protracted purgatory situations, relentless hopelessness, trauma and boredom set in. They are stuck in no man’s land.... Movies transport us to other places, they take our troubles away, they make us laugh,” Manne explained. “The refugees who watch the movies are no different from any Western audience in that regard, except that their needs are different. You can’t compare a bad day at the office with famine, rape and civil war.”

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2 Comments

  • Leena Manimekalai | January 12, 2012 7:13 PMReply

    I have made a film called Sengadal the Dead sea and it deals about the lives of Srilankan Tamil refugees being washed in the shores of India, alive or dead. I am working on the outreach of the film. Is there any possibility in colloborating with Filmaid on the film's distribution and exhibition. thanks.

  • ida franco | November 19, 2011 5:37 AMReply

    make a film telling and convincing people of a small family.come hard on the governments that encourages child labour. It is no use saving lives that have no future. instead stop those that will be born where the couple is not prepared to bring a child in this world. It is very easy for any one including a religious head to say that each and every one of us have a reason to come in this world. My question is would those who make this statement like to trade places with an african child born with aids and battling with their lives . We have been giving leeways to the poors and rushing aids why cant we show them to bring a child in this world educate them and not to give birth in numbers. Just tell them that the child will suffer as much as they do.




    this is where religion will interfere. The unborn child cannot fight for its right. I wish there was was some law giving them rights not to be born.

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