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    • Travel to Ethiopia and use your skills to serve the children of Omo Hope and the people of the Omo Valley
    • Volunteer for Ethiopian children
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  • Patagonia Action Works connects committed individuals to organizations working on environmental issues in the same community. It’s now possible for anyone to discover and connect with environmental action groups and get involved with the work they do.
  • Conscious businesses and companies: https://bcorporation.net/
  • Organizations working on environmental justice and climate action:

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  • Host a Screening of Elemental in your Community
  • Sign the petition to re-establish the climate change education on Environment Protection Agency  (EPA) website
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  • Advocate for SDG#13: Climate Change
  • Pull your money out of banks that are funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.If you can’t divest, Contact executives of the 37 banks and tell them how you feel about their investment in DAPL. Use hashtags #DivestDAPL #DefundDAPL and #NoDAPL.

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  • Reporters without borders – Promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press.
  • Sahar Speaks – Produces high-quality journalism from Afghan female correspondents in a global media outlet.
  • Freedom Of The Press Foundation –  Helping support and defend public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and lawbreaking in government.
  • The Op Ed ProjectIncreasing the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world.  A starting goal is to

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  • Host a Screening of Frame by Frame in your Community
  • Sign the petition to urge UN Secretary General to appoint a protector of journalists
  • Advocate for SDG#16: Peace and Justice and SDG #5: Gender Equality and and Women’s Empowerment
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Filmmaker Interview with Director Mo Scarpelli

 Farzana Wahidy, FRAME BY FRAME, Production Still

 

After decades of war and an oppressive Taliban regime, four Afghan photojournalists face the realities of building a free press in a country left to stand on its own — reframing Afghanistan for the world and for themselves.

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking a photo was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, FRAME BY FRAME follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape — reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Through cinema vérité, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four humans in the pursuit of the truth.

FRAME BY FRAME Directors, Alexandria Bombach (left) and Mo Scarpelli (right)

What motivated you to make this film?

[Mo Scarpelli] In 2012, we traveled to Afghanistan in search of a story about perception — how and why do we form our perceptions of a country at war? And how does this intersect what is actually happening on the ground? In Kabul, we met four incredible local photojournalists. They are deeply embedded in the past, present, and future of their country, and their own truths inform their will to take ownership of Afghanistan’s story and reveal a humanness that is rarely captured by foreign media.

We knew that their stories could bridge what often feels like an insurmountable divide between Afghans and Western audiences.

The world is hankering for a more in-depth and honest view of life in today’s Afghanistan and the issues Afghans face as they stand on their own to rebuild the country. We also knew that this story couldn’t be more timely. Right now, the future of Afghanistan is mired in uncertainty. The government has just transitioned power to a new president. U.S. security forces are pulling out, foreign media is shuttering bureaus, and aid — which helped jumpstart Afghanistan’s free press movement — is dwindling. After more than 13 years of historical growth, free press stands as one of Afghanistan’s most viable hopes for political and social stability. Now is the time to shed light on the realities of building free press in a country whose future may depend on it.

What are a few memorable takeaways from your experience making this film?

So many! Production was an incredible experience. The photographers were very open with us and understood (as storytellers themselves) what we wanted to do. They trusted us, which is an immense privilege. Afghanistan’s golden light, beautiful scenery and colorful streets made it easy on us — everywhere we went, we found inspiration to make a beautiful film. Post-production was very difficult at times, because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do the subjects’ stories justice… but it was then so rewarding to find an audience connecting deeply with them when the film was done. One of the most amazing things was when the four photographers visited the US for several festivals, and we got to know them as friends. This was a life-changing time for everyone involved.

Is your story what you thought it would be–how did it evolve from day one, to the very last day in post?

Everything changes all the time! But we knew from the start this had to be a story about human beings, and tapping into who they are, giving a very deep and honest glimpse of their experience. That notion remained throughout every stage of the process.

Any developments since releasing FRAME BY FRAME?

We have recently screened the film for the President of Afghanistan, along with the US Embassy, National Press Club and other institutions with decision-making power for free press issues — the reactions have been incredibly visceral and we are hoping the film stays with those who work on protecting local journalists anywhere in the world. There’s also an update at the end of the film on what the subjects are working on.

If you could narrow it down, what’s one film that has inspired your filmmaking career most?

ONLY THE YOUNG

What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process?

Surprises. Everything goes ‘wrong’ in documentary in that nothing pans out the way you may have thought it would. But when you see that as an opportunity to shift the story or make the obstacles a part of the story, and when you trust it will turn out fine, it’s a sweet wild ride.

What did you shoot on?

Canon 5D, a little with the Canon C300. We needed a reliable work-horse camera, light-weight and easy to move quickly with. Also, the subjects of the film use the same / similar cameras, so we could blend in with them + other photographers in the press pool, etc. while shooting with the 5D.

What were a few stylistic choices or techniques that you used to help tell your story?

We wanted to make a beautiful, cinematic film — we had never seen a documentary that captured the immense beauty of the country before. So, it was important to us to take our time, be diligent and intention in the cinematography. We were inspired by and to try our best to create images that would even come close to the incredible photography of the subjects in the film.

What’s one item you always take with you when shooting out in the field?

Quarters… great tripod key!

What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Go for it!

Filmmaker Interview with Producer Mark Weber

What motivated you to make this film?

Our director Michael Matheson Miller has a very interesting background with a masters in philosophy, a masters in international business in Europe, and a masters in international development in Japan. In this film, you see those three fields come together. Michael was discouraged by the social engineering mindset embedded in international development, feeling that the people we label “the poor” were being treated as objects with categorical programming that failed to appreciate the creative capacity and destiny of the individual person. That philosophical anthropology that each human person is endowed with dignity
and creative potential is the starting point of the film’s analysis.

My own awakening to this objectification of “the poor” came in 2008 in a tribal village in Bangladesh. I was the captain of the Notre Dame Boxing Team, which since 1931 has been supporting the Catholic missions there. Our motto was “Strong bodies fight, that weak bodies may be nourished.” We used it in all of our promotion with stock photos of Bangladesh and everyone praised us for fighting for such a great cause. In the 78 years before the 2008 trip I organized, no students had ever actually been to Bangladesh because of the extreme conditions and wars there. But there we were, finally, visiting a girls’ school and listening to a Bengali priest explain who we were. “These are the Notre Dame boxers, and we are very thankful to them for supporting us for many years so you can go to school. They have a beautiful motto: Strong bodies fight, and they are the strong bodies,” he gestured to us. “So that weak bodies may be nourished, and we are the weak bodies,” he completed slowly gesturing to the girls, realizing the strangeness of what he said only as it came out of his mouth. The young women looked confused. We felt an intense discomfort and sank in our chairs, hit in the face with the embedded paternalism in our most prized motto. “Na,” one of the girls declared verbally. We are not weak. I will never forget that moment. It changed my mindset from that day forward and inspired me to be a part of this film.

 

Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

Distribution is a real challenge because it is an ever-changing landscape and there is no one way of doing it. By the time a book is written on the subject, it’s already out of date. Our strategy involved playing the film as many places as we could. No festival was too small and it so happened that our educational and international agreement with Ro*Co Films, came from playing at the Topanga Film Festival (a person there was friends with a person at Ro*Co). We also contacted as many filmmakers as we could, interviewed them, and took careful notes on how they did distribution. Each film was different, but understanding the many possibilities helped us craft a strategy and execution plan best fit for our film.

 

What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

The title of our film is a bit of a tip-of-the-hat to one of our favorite films, FOOD, INC. That film concludes with an interview with a Walmart buyer. A decade ago, no one thought Walmart would be carrying organics. But consumers “voted” for organics in the marketplace, thus compelling Walmart to respond. This is the dollar democracy of the market economy at work.

I hope people join us in our own educational process of shifting from paternalism to partnership. We need to take that charitable desire to help others and integrate it vertically  through everything we do, not just silo it in a separate category we call philanthropy, charity, or corporate social responsibility. We need to vote for companies, nonprofits, and government leaders that treat people as persons with potential, not as the objects of our compassion.

Practically speaking, this means we don’t donate to nonprofits that are perpetuating paternalism through their models and marketing. It means we buy from companies that manufacture their products and source their materials ethically, or are at least deeply committed to improving this transparency year over year. It means we vote for leaders that uphold the institutions of justice that allow people to flourish – property rights, rule of law, and freedom.

 

Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

We encourage audiences to frame their discussions with the understanding that this documentary is “open-source.” It’s not designed as a closed argument that tells you what you’re supposed to do next. “What can I do?” is a question we often hear. While we appreciate the desire to help, the question itself is also representative of how stuck we are in one-size-fits-all solutions. You are unique. We couldn’t possibly portend to know what your unique path is to making the most of your talents. Our goal is to give you an interpretive key, a decoder, a way of looking at the world. Your responsibility is to use that decoder to look inside you and to look around you for opportunities to apply yourself and your principles consistently, effectively, passionately.

Specifically one thing we want to remember is that this film is not a condemnation of charity. It’s aimed at redeeming the true meaning of charity. We’ve made charity synonymous with writing a check to a cause. True charity – caritas – is a deep form of interpersonal love, where you look into the eyes of a unique person and see him or her in the fullness of who that person is. Being charitable is much more about our time and daily interactions than it is about the deductions on our tax forms. It’s time to redeem this word
by bringing attention to how much we have cheapened it.

 

Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

This September, the Millennium Development Goals are up for renewal and they’re being redrafted as the Sustainable Development Goals. I personally believe they are a distraction from what’s really important. Policies like the U.S. Farm Bill and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are much more relevant. Furthermore, I fear the more active and well-funded the Sustainable Development Goals are, the more harm they might do. As an example, the Haitian earthquake relief was an unmitigated disaster, fraught with corruption and
incompetence that delayed Haiti’s recovery. See the NPR and HBO Vice pieces on this. Relief is an appropriate intervention for wealthy countries to make, yet we fail. If we cannot be successful with basic relief, why do we believe we can succeed in the infinitely more complicated process of development? Development is organic. It can’t be manufactured. Can you grow a hamburger in a petri dish? Yes. But is it a viable way to create food. No. And it never will be.

 

What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?
Again, keeping in mind that the film is an interpretive key and there is intentionally no “donate here” button, a few ideas:
If you’re interested in law, maybe you can volunteer your time as a legal advocate to protect people’s property rights, help them navigate the legal system to be productive, and most of all, help find ways to incrementally improve legal systems and regulations that weigh people down unnecessarily.

If you’re interested in business and entrepreneurship, vertically integrate your ethos throughout your entire supply chain. Ti voglio bene, the Italians say. I will your good. This is what the actions of 21st Century business leaders should communicate to consumers, suppliers, employees, investors, and even rivals, whose competition drives innovation forward for all.

If you’re interested in nonprofits, consider the fact that you are still part of the marketplace of value exchange. Your donors give you money in exchange for good work they expect you to do. Be very aware of the pitfall intrinsic to such an exchange: the feedback loop between the donor and the end-user (the person you are trying to help) is broken. The instinct of every organization is to survive and perpetuate itself. Be wary of this as it relates to how and why you go about your work.

If you’re interested in donating, consider adopting an integrated understanding of your dollars. Don’t separate out your charitable spending and the rest of your spending. Spend consciously and intentionally in accordance with your values. Consider spending more of your time building relationships that aren’t solely predicated on you helping someone from a position of power. Sometimes people just need someone to look them in the eye and treat them as a person. Don’t give a million dollars to a foundation then never stop to talk to someone on the street. Even if you don’t give that person a dime, give that person the respect of looking them in the eye.

If you’re interested in policy, consider the words of Juan Jose Daboub, a former World Bank official from El Salvador. “We looked at many countries that had had comparable experiences, either because of some sort of war or civil strife, or for some kind of natural disaster. We looked at Chile, and we looked at countries that after World War II were totally destroyed. South Korea came into the picture, but also Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan. These were countries that had one thing in common: they removed obstacles for people to be able to take destiny to their own hands, and we wanted to emulate that. We wanted to change the role of the government from one of an orchestra director to one of a referee that addresses, that helps resolve the controversy among the different actors in society, but that do not have to over-intervene in people’s life. This was the basic thing that El Salvador was able to accomplish.”

 

Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):
Explore our website and send us a message so we can stay in touch!
http://www.povertyinc.org/contact
Also find us on Facebook and Twitter #PovertyINC
https://www.facebook.com/povertyinc

 

 

Filmmaker Interview with Director John Rowe

What motivated you to make this film?

Raise awareness about the killing of innocent children and how one African man set out to stop the killing. The story of a true hero told in the voices of people never heard or seen before.

Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

One person can effect change for people and societies whose harmful traditions are challenged with love and compassion. You can change the hearts and minds of those whose lives are dramatically effected by old beliefs and prejudices. Change can come in even the worst circumstances.

What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

One person can effect change for people and societies whose harmful traditions are challenged with love and compassion. You can change the hearts and minds of those whose lives are dramatically effected by old beliefs and prejudices. Change can come in even the worst circumstances.

Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

How the filmmakers discovered this story and gained the trust of the people we encountered and who participated in our film.

Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

45 rescued children have received financial support to provide a loving home where they are going to school and living happy lives because of the support of people who have viewed our film.

What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

People can follow the development of the rescued children, visit the home in Ethiopia where they live and offer support and assistance to create future leaders in the Omo Valley

Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):

www.omochild.org

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Sebastian Junger Elliot Erwitt, Martin Scorsese

Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

Cannon C300’s great cameras for difficult ( rain, dust, heat) environments and ability to recording low light. Reliable and great images

Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

After three weeks in the Omo Valley we were waiting for a small plane to land to bring us out. Since we had extra time I asked our guide and translator to tell us about his experience in his tribe with the killing of children. He told us how his son, born to his girlfriend was taken by women in the community and outside the village they stuffed dirt in the babies mouth and killed his son. We had no idea he had had this experience and our entire crew including a former USMA combat photographer were in tears and emotionally moved. It was one of the saddest and most dramatic moments of my life.

Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story.

Our biggest challenge was to not have a narrator but instead letting the people directly involved tell their story.

How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

6 years, very difficult conditions living in tents in southwest Ethiopia. The story evolved organically over the course of filming. 700 hours of footage. We were patient and overcame many physical hardships because of the importance of making this film. A historic record of change in tribal Africa is an example of leadership and how someone within the community can impact their society and ultimately save many lives.

Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

We filmed the rescue of a baby who was to be killed but instead was saved. In the end the elders of the tribe thanked us deeply for our bringing their voices to the world.

What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Be sensitive to the people you meet, interview and whose stories you tell. Be respectful and humble that people allow you into their lives.

What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

The unknown aspect and unexpected moments that evolve when you are patient and open to the unexpected.

What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

A notebook or journal to record every interview and scene becomes incredibly important when editing and putting the story together.

Filmmaker Interview with Director Kalyanee Mam

What motivated you to make your film?

I’ve been working and traveling in my native country of Cambodia since 1998. Over the years, I noticed distinctly how rapidly the country was changing. Thousands of hectares of forests have been cleared and replaced with large industrial agricultural crops like rubber, cassava, and sugar cane, displacing indigenous communities and villagers who depend on the land and forests for their livelihood. Dam construction and overfishing are also threatening the livelihood of fishermen and their families. Thousands of women have fled their villages to seek work in the garment factories in the city. These changes are not only threatening people’s livelihood, but their way of life and the unique languages, customs, and cultures that make their existence so important. I knew that if I didn’t document their stories and make them known to the world, this moment we have right now to change the course of Cambodia’s future, will be lost forever.

Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

The most demanding aspect of making the film was the physical challenge of filming in scorching hot and humid conditions in the remote, and mountainous jungles of Cambodia and on the Tonle Sap River. However, even the toughest times could not compare to the pain of witnessing the suffering of the three families that had become like family to me. I knew that in a few years’ time, Sav Samourn and her family’s lives, previously untouched, would change forever once all the forests around them are cut down. Once the fish populations (some already extinct) begin to seriously dwindle in the Tonle Sap River, Sari, his family, and his entire village must also look for a source of life and livelihood elsewhere, away from the river. It was also challenging to watch Khieu and her family, continue to eke out a living while coping with overwhelming debt. But the hope of one day of sharing their stories with the world always encouraged me and made every challenge I faced an opportunity to tell the most honest and inspiring story I could.

We all want essentially the same thing — to live a human and dignified life.Despite the story I wanted to tell, I also encountered difficulty in attracting attention to the film because of what the film was about and that it was set in a country few people knew very much about or may have interest in — Cambodia. Distributors thought the film wasn’t commercial enough. However, once we were able to pique people’s interest enough to watch the film, the response was always overwhelming. People were often surprised at how connected they felt to the families, revealing how universal our struggles are. We all want essentially the same thing — to live a human and dignified life. The audience also appreciated how complex the issues presented were. There was no political agenda or didactic lesson to be garnered from the film. I realize that although complexity in a film may be difficult to market, it’s essential to expose audiences to a new perspective and different way of looking at the world.

What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

I want the audience to truly relate to the subjects and their stories and discover a personal connection to their own lives. I spent two years living with and following the lives of the families. I shared meals with them, experiences with them, and we traded countless jokes and stories. Ultimately, I realized that their struggles within this changing and globalized world are not too different from my own and all of us today. We must all face the environmental consequences of deforestation and overfishing. And many of us, in this struggling economy, are grappling with college loans, mortgages, and mounting hospital bills. Some of us are even struggling to find work. But what keeps us sane, grounded, and hopeful for our future are our families and communities. Khieu, Sari, and Sav Samourn impressed me most with their strength and conviction to determine their own destiny and future. One of my most treasured clips from the film is at the end when Sav Samourn puts on her hat and gazes into the future with a look of fierceness and determination. The companies may come, the forests may be cut down, but her life and the lives of her children will always endure. It is this tenacity, the same tenacity that ensured the survival of so many families during the Khmer Rouge period, including my own, that gives me hope for Cambodia and the future of our world.

Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

At the end of the film Khieu expresses her desire to have the factory come to her village and how happy she would be if her village could be like Phnom Penh. At first I was shocked to hear her say this, but soon I understood what she wanted. She wants what we all have. She wants electricity, running water, access to markets. Most of all, she wants to be home with her family. Her desire raises the question of how can we balance conservation and progress? How can we move forward without destroying the planet? I think balance is possible. However, maintaining balance requires the concerted efforts of both governments and communities to find common ways to achieve progress without destruction and while maintaining a human and dignified life for all.

We sometimes have no idea where our food or even our drinking water comes from. What consequences could this have for us and for our society? How important is it for us to maintain a connection to nature?In the film, Sav Samourn states how she used to be afraid of wild animals and ghosts. Now, she’s afraid of people. The heart of the Cambodian people and especially indigenous cultures lies in their spiritual connection to nature. Once nature disappears, this spiritual connection, and the heart that defines Cambodia, disappears as well. In many ways, many of us live our lives completely divorced from nature. We sometimes have no idea where our food or even our drinking water comes from. What consequences could this have for us and for our society? How important is it for us to maintain a connection to nature?

Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

Since the release of A River Changes Course, the situation in Cambodia has become even more dramatic as more land and forests are being cleared for industrial agriculture or industrial development projects, more people are being thrown off their land, and garment factory workers continue to fight for a livable wage. However, the people are not merely standing by and watching. After a perceived stolen election in July 2013, Cambodia has been set alight with protests. Once helpless to the dictates of the ruling regime, the people now stand empowered to fight for their land and forests, for access to higher wages and better working conditions, and they are demanding change.

What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

The simplest way to get involved is to donate to our Rally campaign to raise funds to screen A River Changes Course in villages and universities throughout Cambodia. In partnership with the Documentation Center of Cambodia, the film will travel to 30 rural villages and 30 Universities over 12 months. Through these screenings and facilitated discussions, all viewers will be encouraged to analyze their current situation, and within their respective communities, determine how to respond to this rapid change.

As many villagers in Cambodia lack the means and opportunity to leave their villages and travel, the film will be their first exposure to the different cultures, identities, and landscapes that exist in Cambodia. And for many who lack access to media, newspapers, and television, the film will be their first understanding that they are not alone.

I am currently working on two short documentary pieces that address Cambodian people’s response to the current political upheaval. I hope these shorts, coupled with the digital release of A River Changes Course will provide a complete and complex picture of not only the challenges facing contemporary Cambodia but also the relentless resilience of the people in response.

If audience members are interested in being even more involved, there are currently many campaigns in Cambodia to assist villagers in their fight to maintain their right to their land and to assist garment factory workers in their fight for a livable wage. Mother Nature is working with indigenous groups in Areng Valley, situated in one of the last pristine natural habitats on Southwest Cambodia, to halt the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Licadho, Sahmakum Teang Tnaot, and Cambodian Legal Education Center are working on land grabbing issues in Phnom Penh and throughout Cambodia. And the Cambodian Legal Education Center is also working with garment factory workers in their fight for a livable wage. January 3 witnessed an explosive governmental crackdown of a garment factory protest in Veng Sreng, an area crowded with factories. Four people were killed and 23 more detained. The 23 are still being held and currently on trial. Garment factory workers are now protesting, demanding their release.