Events

Light in the Shadows - By Hannah Kendi. FilmAid Kenya, Finance Officer

It's my third week in Kakuma and I am loving it. I have always wanted to be a humanitarian; it has always been like a thirst and something I felt I needed to do. I never really knew why, until FilmAid, actually, until I went to Kakuma. This is when I understood the real meaning behind what I do, why FilmAid works here, and why I needed to be a part of an organization like FilmAid. 

Hannah Kendi, Kakuma 2015

Hannah Kendi, Kakuma 2015

February 17, 2015: Field trip day.

Our first stop was the new arrivals camp. The first thing I noticed was that the facilitators were refugees themselves.  Here my colleagues and outreach facilitators were showing a film to a group of extremely attentive women on HIV and AIDS and thereafter conducting an amazing question and answer session.  My love story with FilmAid was just beginning. 

Issuing certificates to a women's group after completing a Health Course, Kakuma 2015

Issuing certificates to a women's group after completing a Health Course, Kakuma 2015

The second stop on our tour of Kakuma was a FilmAid journalism class.  FilmAid had a trainer taking these young men and women through the basics of journalism. I felt the hope in that class, the curiosity and the hunger for more knowledge. I am very passionate about the youth and education and it brought me to tears. It was amazing to learn that the journalism class gets fully involved in ideas and stories for FilmAid’s ‘The Refugee Magazine’.  I was completely blown away.

Next we visited a children’s event and screening.  A screen was set up showing cartoons to around two hundred excited children. This was probably the first chance for many of the children to watch cartoons. In some instances the first time in their lives.  It was wonderful to see their excited faces, hear their laughter and see the enthusiasm in answering questions after the screening. FilmAid gives the chance of normalcy to refugees at every opportunity.

February 29, 2015: My first evening screening.

A huge truck with a screen attached projected a children’s cartoon followed by a story about Cholera. The story was so simple yet so effective in its message. After this a movie was shown that was clearly enjoyed by everyone judging from the laugher and cheers in the nighttime crowds. Education, laughter, hope, teamwork and inspiration all rolled into one. There was literally light in the shadows.

Chivas Regal 

Chivas Regal 

FilmAid -  Projecting Hope, Changing lives. Using the power of film in promoting health, strengthening communities and enriching lives.

Every day I am in awe of the FilmAid team. Everyone is working so hard, co-operating, always on the move. My heart melts every time I watch our incentive staff in action. Talent, passion, hard work, energy and the biggest smiles on their faces. They work hard every day with over fifty activities every week and still, they love it. It’s about the impact, and FilmAid giving them the opportunity to showcase their excellence despite everything they have gone through. This is what Hope is about.

I hear the heat will go to my head soon and that this spark in my eyes will fade eventually. I doubt it. The spark appeared in my heart the minute I landed here in Kakuma. I am too busy falling in love with my job that I don’t even think about the heat. I walk around like a girl with new found love. Completely dazed. 

 

If you'd like to support FilmAid's training courses, media projects and mobile cinema screenings you can donate here.

FilmAid and Every Mother Counts at The Bulgari

Porter Magazine 2014

Porter Magazine 2014

It is fundamental to work together to save each and every woman.

Statistics show that one woman dies every two minutes from complications during pregnancy and birth. This is why FilmAid was honored to join Christy Turlington Burns for Porter Magazine's event with Every Mother Counts at The Bulgari, to raise awareness of the vital need for the continued progress and preservation of maternal health. 

Driven by her own experience of pregnancy and giving birth, Christy founded Every Mother Counts with the aim of providing every mother with the same level of information and healthcare she had received when she needed it most. 

Stella and Sian speak at bulgari.JPG

A touching speech was given on behalf of FilmAid by FilmAid’s UK Chair, Sian Sutherland, and FilmAid’s Country Director for Kenya, Stella Suge. 

Emphasizing the common ground shared by the two organizations, Sian discussed Every Mother Counts and FilmAid’s important contributions to safeguarding women’s health and dignity by the provision of information and the giving of hope, life skills, and voices.

 

Stella spoke of her first-hand experience working on a FilmAid maternal health program based in two of the largest refugee camps in the world, Kakuma and Dadaab in Kenya. With over half a million people living as refugees in Kenya, and over half of these people being women, maternal health necessitates urgent action. Stella expressed that she had seen women die as a result of absence of knowledge and information, a situation that was complicated further by cultural issues relating to how women receive professional hospital treatment. In light of these experiences, FilmAid devised a program that included creating an informative film made by and for refugees. The film focussed on informing viewers of the critical need and benefits of maternal health, thus contributing to the ongoing welfare of mothers and thier children. 

 

A Reflection on Untold Stories, FilmAid's Film Festival

FilmAid’s 8th Annual Film Festival is underway in Kakuma and Dadaab, it is inspired by this year’s theme, "Untold Stories". FilmAid’s Communications Intern Yvon Ngabo wrote the following reflection.

This is a story of a boy.

He is different.

He is just like everyone else in the eyes of the public.

One reason for this is that he spends every day trying to blend in with everyone else. Partly because being different, having a weird accent, having a different hair texture and having a difficult name is an invitation for trouble. He has to go about his days undetected.

The limelight to him means invasion of privacy. He must avoid this at all costs.

He is part of a forgotten people.

He is a stateless person.

He is a refugee.

He is in a foreign country, with its own rules. He is among a foreign people.

Every individual is faced with his or her own problems. The refugee has the same, and also another set of his own: He has been forced to flee from home with little perception of the new world around him. The childlike outlook, free from flawed perceptions, is shocked to a world where murder and forced relocations are the order of the day.

He has just learned a painful lesson in life.

Your life can be changed forever in a matter of hours by someone who does not even know you.

He has had to bury all these thoughts, deep inside. No matter how hurt he is, no matter how uprooted and unfair his life, the world does not stop to grieve with him. It is rather indifferent. So he must become so too, in order to move on in life.

He has decided to make something of himself. In the life that he has been forced into, he must soldier on.

He has talents.

He has a dream.

He has to give it a shot, if anything is to come from it.

FilmAid’s Film Festival is happening in Nairobi on Tuesday, August 12th at 4:00 p.m. It is a platform to showcase creative talent from Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, including FilmAid-trained young refugee filmmakers eager to show their work. All are welcome to attend. For further information, please visit the FilmAid Film Festival Facebook page.

Celebrating our 8th Annual Film Festival in Kakuma and Dadaab

This week, FilmAid is holding our 8th Annual Film Festival in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, celebrating the unique stories of refugees and other marginalized populations.

Crowds at Hope Primary School in Kakuma for this year's film festival

The screenings of these films have had an amazing reception from the refugee populations so far (and it’s only been two days)! Community spaces where the films are being shown are crowded with men, women and children, vying for front row seats.  Showcasing the films of young refugee filmmakers trained by FilmAid in both Kakuma and Dadaab, the Film Festival also provides an opportunity for filmmakers across the world to share the “Untold Stories” (our 2014 Festival theme) of the vulnerable and the voiceless.

If you’re not in Kakuma or Dadaab right now, you can still get a sneak peek of the Film Festival by watching our trailer here. 

For more updates about the Film Festival activities this week (as well as the Nairobi activities happening next week, which are free and open to everyone), check out our featured Film Festival Facebook page.

Chivas Regal donate $100,000 to FilmAid at Cannes 2014

Global film elite including Naomi Watts, Harvey Weinstein, Gael Garcia Bernal gathered on Friday May 16 at the world famous Charles Finch Filmmakers Dinner in Cannes where FilmAid received a generous donation from our long-time supporter Chivas Regal. The highly anticipated annual dinner, filled with international superstars and with the stunning Riviera as a backdrop, was held during the Cannes Film Festival 2014 and confirmed the film industry’s dedication to using media to support marginalized and vulnerable communities. 

World-class actor and social activist Edward Norton (Fight Club, The Illusionist, Primal Fear) invited guests to toast the charitable efforts of the film industry and praised the work of FilmAid highlighting our work to help, “people who are voiceless, need to have their stories told or need what is going on around them documented. There’s an empowerment in giving people the tools to tell their own story.” Cannes Film Festival is known for showing its political conscience, and the Charles Finch dinner was no exception.

The evening brought together film stars, directors and producers to celebrate the opening of the film festival. Christopher Hampton and Alfonso Cuáron were presented with the Filmmaker Award for their massive and lasting contributions to the film industry.

The highlight of the night was undoubtedly Edward Norton leading the final toast and presenting a check of $100,000 to FilmAid’s Executive Director, Simon Goff on behalf of Chivas. Norton commented, “It is a great pleasure to be here tonight at the Charles Finch Filmmakers Dinner, sponsored by Chivas Regal 25. To be able to present FilmAid with such a generous donation on behalf of Chivas Regal is a great honor… Increasingly, we are seeing brands addressing social and environmental issues more than ever before. Charitable causes such as FilmAid need support in order to drive awareness and change consumer attitudes and behavior. With the help of partners like Chivas Regal around the world, FilmAid will be able to reach their next milestone”.

We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to our long-time supporter, Chivas Regal, for their on-going generosity, as well as to Charles Finch and Edward Norton for paying tribute to FilmAid.

The Two Faces of January – UK Premiere in association with FilmAid

On May 13th, 2014 Working Title and Studio Canal teamed up with FilmAid to screen the UK Premiere of The Two Faces of January.

The Two Faces of January is Hossein Amini’s directorial debut. Famous for his work on Drive and The Wings of the Dove, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay, Amini’s latest thriller transports us to the ruinous beauty of Greece in 1962. The film uncovers the tangled secrets of a glamorous American couple, the MacFarlands (Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen) and their tour guide, Rydal (Oscar Isaac) who has a propensity towards small time con work. Amini engineers some gorgeous scenes, as the group travel across 1960s Greece and gradually become embedded in a web of lies, deception and murder.

Kirsten Dunst plays her role exceptionally well, demonstrating uncertainty and insecurity as she learns some unappealing truths about her companions. Meanwhile Mortensen and Isaac’s painfully competitive and almost Oedipal relationship dictates the thrilling journey of the story and its ultimate finale. 

The premiere, which was held at the Curzon Mayfair, was an enormous success filled with cast, crew and FilmAid supporters. FilmAid screened a short film before the movie, which invited the audience to contemplate the significance of film beyond the cinema walls, and imagine how it can bring about positive change for communities in need around the world. 

FilmAid are enormously grateful for this opportunity and would like to thank Working Title, Studio Canal and Hossein Amini for their generosity and support.  

FilmAid at Fifteen

Fifteen years ago, as I lay in bed, listening to morning radio, my heart ached from the tales of children languishing in refugee camps. I had been following the plight of the Kosovar refugees for months: each image and story intensifying my desire to do something, anything.  

The radio report detailed the emotional trauma, boredom, uncertainty, and the high toll that war extracts from innocent, displaced peoples – especially women and children. Key necessities, like food, medicine, and shelter were being delivered by aid agencies; but people were still left in a state of fear and hopelessness. As a professional filmmaker, I wondered if movies could provide some psychological relief, and with that thought, a door to the complex world of humanitarian aid cracked open, I stepped through and FilmAid was born.

The original idea was to hold outdoor screenings to feed the imagination and the soul while providing life-saving messages on the big screen. I assembled a crew of committed volunteers and a stash of films. Six weeks later, I was on my way to Macedonia, armed with what would become FilmAid’s first Mobile Cinema - a generator, projectors, and screens loaded into the back of a truck. FilmAid's experience in Macedonia and Kosovo successfully proved the power of the big screen: films restore hope and provide education and inspiration.

1999_KSV_filmaidcrewlaysoutscreen_1.jpg

Over the years, FilmAid has brought the power of film to millions of refugees and displaced persons, in environments as diverse as Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, Nairobi slums, New Orleans, the Thailand-Myanmar border, Afghanistan, Haiti and most recently Jordan.  Our programs now include participatory filmmaking, skills training, facilitated video workshops, mass awareness campaigns, and mentoring to help refugees achieve their dreams.

Despite FilmAid’s successes, sadly, we all still wake up to stories of people fleeing their homes. They are driven from safety and comfort by human cruelty or natural disasters. Civil wars, conflict and genocide leave millions homeless around the world. Three years into Syria’s civil war over 9 million people have been forced to flee their homes. The ongoing turmoil in South Sudan continues to displace people into neighboring countries. The global refugee situation is becoming more urgent than ever before. We need your help to continue and expand our work.

Fifteen years ago, a radio report caused me to get up and start this journey. Please support us by donating nowYour generosity will help us educate, empower and inspire refugees displaced by conflict and natural disaster from South Sudan to Syria and Thailand to Colombia. Let me paraphrase philosopher Bertrand Russell when he described his three simple passions: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the compassion for the suffering of mankind. These continue to drive me and so many others to do what we can to ease the pain of others. FilmAid embodies this universal human spirit and is deeply committed to projecting hope and giving voice to those whose voices are rarely heard.

Thank you for your continued support. We couldn’t do this work without you!

Caroline Baron,
Founder, FilmAid International

 

FilmAid Asia’s Power of Film Gala 2014

On March 22, 2014, Clearwater Bay Studios, Hong Kong, was over run by influential individuals from the film and humanitarian sector. More than 400 people arrived from around the globe to celebrate FilmAid Asia’s Power of Film Gala and ultimately raise over HK$3.5 million. The evening was filled with generous individuals, committed to FilmAid’s mission of projecting hope and changing lives through the medium of film. 

This was the Gala’s third year and the third time for Moet & Chandon to demonstrate their unwavering support of FilmAid Asia by acting as the presenting partner for the event. The night was filled with stars, and members of the FilmAid Board, unanimously dedicated to FilmAid’s values; Tilda Swinton and Donnie Yen paid tribute to the humanitarian filmmaker Ruby Yang, whilst other guests included Jamie Campbell Bower, Fan Bingbing, Godfrey Gao, and Cheng Pei-pei.

Ruby Yang was honoured by FilmAid Asia for her contribution to using media to promote awareness of crucial social issues, for example, through founding Chang Ai Media Project to raise awareness of HIV in China. On top of that, Yang’s world renowned documentaries touch on diverse themes, ranging from the posionous consequences of chemical plants, to the lives of gay men in China who are obliged to marry women in order to please their parents.

The evening was spent enjoying a performance by Grandmaster Flash . After cocktails, guests were seated for a special dinner prepared by the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Following this, the charity auction begun, which included items such as tickets to Burberry's London Fashion show, and an original artwork by graffiti artist Mr Brainwash. In addition, and as a complete surprise to everyone, Tilda Swinton ingeniously auctioned off the reading of a bedtime story to the highest bidder in the room. Jamie Campbell Bower attended the Gala as FilmAid's Global Artist Council member and assisted Levina Li-Cadman and Claire Breen Melwani raise funds during the Educate Through Film section. Jamie also auctioned his guitar to raise extra funds.  All this money raised is invaluable and supports the ongoing programs in Asia, which include skills training for NGOs, film production, community outreach to refugees and mobile cinemas which raise awareness of social and health issues.

FilmAid thanks its generous sponsors for the event, and the unceasing generosity of the guests, who made the third inaugural Power of Film Gala Asia, the best yet.

Global finalist for 2013 Intercultural Innovation Award

Today the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group announced FilmAid as one of only 10 global finalists for the 2013 Intercultural Innovation Award.

FilmAid has been selected as a finalist for its work in the field of film and media, bringing life-saving information, psychological relief and much-needed hope to refugees and other communities in need in Northern Kenya and around the globe. Representatives from FilmAid Kenya will present FilmAid’s work at the Viennese Volkstheatre on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013.

President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations and Mr. Bill McAndrews, Vice President, Corporate Communications Strategy, Corporate and Market Communications, BMW Group will chair the ceremony, in the presence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. High-level representatives of the UNAOC and the BMW Group will give the award to the five top organizations.

Since 2011, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group have engaged in a historic partnership geared towards creating a new model for collaboration between the private sector and the UN system. To that end, the two organizations have established The Intercultural Innovation Award whose mandate is to select highly innovative grassroots projects that promote dialogue and intercultural understanding and make vital contributions to prosperity and peace in global societies.

FilmAid is honored and thankful to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and BMW Group for this fantastic opportunity! 


Guests Attend FilmAid Asia Screening of "Plastic Oceans"

Jellyfish.jpg

Last night FilmAid Asia and long term supporters Moet & Chandon and The Upper House teamed up to host an exclusive cocktail and screening of "Plastic Oceans" - a documentary that unveils the catastrophic impact of disposable plastic on the environment.

Approximately 50 guests were able to preview the highly anticipated film and seek insight from Film Producer, Jo Ruxton, and Chief Conservations Officer, Cynthia Phillips, PHD, on solutions to the global plastic disaster.

To view the film yourself, please contact kforster@filmaid.org.