2017 HUMANITARIAN AWARD WINNERS
The Humanitarian Award honors filmmakers who are bringing awareness to issues of Ecological, Political, Social Justice, Health and Wellness, Animals, Wildlife, Conservation and Spiritual importance and combining that with quality filmmaking craft. Congratulations to this year’s illustrious winners who are committed to making a difference in the world. To read more about the award click here:
BREAKING POINT: The War for Democracy in Ukraine – Mark Jonathan Harris
Mark Jonathan Harris (USA), BREAKING POINT: The War for Democracy in Ukraine, Doc Feature – Three time Academy Award winner Mark Jonathan Harris delivers an impactful and intimate look at the war and revolution in Ukraine through the eyes of ordinary people who risked their lives to create a more democratic and independent country and help unite others in a collective effort to bring the rule of law and democracy to their country. Their lives were transformed by the tumultuous, three-month revolution on the Maidan and the Russian invasion of Crimea. With a tight compelling narrative, stirring footage and masterful direction and editing, this film depicts this intense and on-going struggle, which has so far killed 10,000 Ukrainians and displaced 1.9 million refugees. With award-winning director/
The Sultan and the Saint, Alexander Kronemer – Narrated by Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons – this is a lost story from history meeting a critical issue of our current time. Two men of faith, one an itinerant Christian preacher, the other the ruler of a Muslim Empire, bucked a century of war, distrust, and insidious propaganda in a search for mutual respect and common ground. It is the story of Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt, and their meeting on a bloody battlefield during the Crusades. Two more unlikely protagonists are hard to imagine. And yet the meeting between these two men, at a crossroads moment, changed history. An imperative message for our world today.
American Street Kid, Michael Leoni (USA) – Filmmaker Michael Leoni heads to the streets of LA to shine a light on the epidemic of homeless youth in America. Once inside their world he realizes he can no longer be an observer; every day is a matter of life or death and he’ll do anything to get them off the streets.
Brooklyn In July, Bob Celli (USA) – BROOKLYN IN JULY is the story of Frank Walker, an African-American WWII veteran working as a chauffeur in the summer of 1945. The U.S. is riding a wave of triumph even as the undertow of unresolved issues roils beneath. Frank is drawn to New York by the promise of better life only to be confronted by the same realities, fear, and hatred he hoped he had left behind. He is a man scarred by a past that is lurking skin deep. A cautionary tale for our modern times.
Jonah, Michael Maschina (Austria)– Austria, 2015. It’s pitch dark in the night and a lorry is trying to reach the Austrian border. A group of Syrian refugees hides inside while a girl trembles and a woman tries to sooth her narrating the story of Jonah. They are both waiting to get into Austria. Austria, 1943. It’s pitch dark in the night and a lorry is trying to leave the Austrian border. A group of Jewish people is hidden inside as a boy trembles while a woman tries to sooth him narrating the same story of Jonah, the hero who is sent to improve the moral conditions of his people’s oppressor. Contrary to the parable when the lorry opens we see a scene of both tragedy and truth.
Liberty & Slavery: The Paradox of America’s Founding Fathers, A. Troy Thomas (USA) – Our Founding Fathers were yearning for a nation of individual liberty, but began with a deep-seeded paradox; they cried for liberty, while simultaneously owning slaves. “All men are created equal” is the most powerful ideal that comes out of the American Revolution but when they wrote it but it was a cruel incongruity because many of the liberty-loving, Southern Founders were also slave owners. This doc explores the paradox of America’s Founding Fathers being champions of liberty, and yet simultaneously champions of slavery.
SIXTEEN LEGS, Niall Doran and Justin Smith (Australia) – As the world rapidly descends into the next period of global mass extinction, a message of hope comes from an unlikely hero: a creature, often unfairly reviled, that has survived prior mass extinctions and climatic change in a magical ecosystem hidden beneath the World Heritage mountains of one of the world’s last great wildernesses. With spectacular imagery and a dark-fantasy twist by master story-teller Neil Gaiman, this real-world “Charlotte’s Web” brings a story of stability and solitude into our world of rapid change. Award-winning cinematography documents the 25th anniversary of scientific research into animals that outlasted the dinosaurs, survived the splitting of the continents and have endured the entirety of human civilization in Australia’s deepest caves.
The Evil Within, Eduardo Rufeisen (USA) – This doc presents the circumstances that influence a society, a culture, and minds of the perpetrators to create a political regime capable of committing the most horrifying atrocities in the history of mankind: the Holocaust. This kind of tragedy seems improbable today…but not impossible. This is a process that starts with discrimination, prejudices against minorities, hate speech and blind nationalism and bravado to justify the harsh conditions of life present everywhere in the world today.
To A More Perfect Union: U.S. v. Windsor, Donna Zaccaro (USA) – This doc tells a story of love and justice, an intimate, behind-the-scenes account of the case that resulted in Supreme Court’s 2013 pivotal ruling on marriage equality championed by unlikely heroes, octogenarian Edie Windsor and her attorney Roberta Kaplan. Features the personal stories of those involved and the journey as a culture and as citizens with the promise equal rights. Currently important as hard-fought rights continue to be challenged. Edie is an icon for what she accomplished, but also as a smart, older woman who decided to stand up and devote her remaining years to correcting a “wrong.” In the process, she changed the course of US history, bettered the lives of her fellow citizens, and made ours a more perfect union.
PCI Media Impact (USA) – Body of work – PCI Media Impact is a pioneer and world leader in Entertainment-Education and communications for social change for 30 years. Programs are designed to increase knowledge, change attitudes and facilitate change on some of the most pressing issues of our time. This Humanitarian Award is for their 2017 body of work honoring Sean Southey and the PCI team including This is Who We Are, Violence Against Children in Malawi, 27 Empty School Buses, One World Many Children, Immunization for All, Sin Arrugar (Don’t Back Down) and Road to Recovery.
Chocolate Moose Media (Canada/Switzerland) – Body of Work – Founded and led by renowned social innovator, director and humanitarian Firdaus Kharas , produces animation, documentaries, videos and TV series designed to educate, entertain, and change societal and individual behavior – with over 3,600 animated videos in 237 languages in 198 countries. This Humanitarian Award is for their 2017 body of work including – Violence Against Children in Malawi, The Migrant, I Am Not A Victim, Asbestos Kills, A Plea To My Father and Show You Care, Wear A Pair.
Ministry of Women & Children Affairs, Government of Bangladesh; UNICEF and Sara Zaker, Asiatic Marketing Communications Ltd. (Bangladesh). Ending Child Marriage (School) & (Groom) – These PSA’s are part of series for UNICEF to challenge the social acceptability of child marriage in Bangladesh which has one of the world’s highest rates of this harmful practice. Not only do these marriages truncate childhoods and violate adolescents’ basic rights to life, health, education, and development, they also contribute to lifelong gender inequity.
The Age of Beasts: A Film about Cruelty and Compassion, Francois Primeau (Canada) – Examines the paradoxes that come to light when we consider that certain species find their way to our hearts and others to our plate. This haunting doc probes the deep bond we have with our pets and highlights the work of people who are devoted to protecting animals. It is a powerful expose industries that exploit animals for profit…and proposes that veganism is not a radical and marginalized movement, nor a lifestyle, but a form of global consciousness that expresses itself in a life lived according to ethical principles.
City of Joy, Madeleine Gavin (USA) – In Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an area waging one of the longest conflicts in history and ravaged by sexual violence – we discover The City of Joy. This ultimately uplifting film centers around Jane, a student in the first class at a center where women who have suffered unimaginable abuse come together to create a revolutionary community of leaders.
Dangerous Crossings, Amr Salama (Egypt) – “Dangerous Crossings” is part of a major campaign to spread awareness about the dangers of crossing to war-stricken Yemen through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea from Africa, highlighting the horrendous conditions and rising risks in Yemen.
GANDHI’S GIFT, Kell Kearns (USA) – Ghandi – the Master of Nonviolence at the end of his life, on the brink of attaining his lifelong goal of independence from the British but with his heart breaking by the partition of India and the terrible communal violence that is killing untold thousands. Having led masses in nonviolent marches, Gandhi now walks alone for unity and peace. Are Gandhi’s final years his finest?
GREED – A Fatal Desire, Jörg Seibold (Germany) – “People like to have a lot of stuff because it makes them the feeling of living forever” says social psychologist Sheldon Solomon, who believes today’s materialism and consumerism has disastrous consequences. Anyone who fails to satisfy his or her desires in this age of the Ego is deemed a loser. But with more than 7 billion people on the Earth, the ramifications of this excessive consumption of resources are already clear. Isn’t the deplorable state of our planet proof enough that “The Greed Program,” which has made us crave possessions, status and power, is coming to an end?
Hippocratic, Mike Hill (Australia) – Dr Raj is a small man with a big dream: a pain-free India. His mission is to bring ethical practice to modern medicine through whole person care and universal access to essential pain medicines. Now, this spiritual leader of ethical medicine shares the story of his life’s work, reflecting on effecting change and relieving unnecessary human suffering in a country of 1.25 billion people. Be inspired by the impact that can be made by a small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission and altering the course of history.
Lemming – The Little Giant Of The North, Zoltan Török (Sweden) – They are small. They are angry. And every four years or so they appear in masses seemingly from nowhere. Meet the Norway lemming, perhaps the most misunderstood and mysterious animal of the North. This is not only the story of lemming but, most importantly, of the entire ecosystems and the changes facing them today. Entertaining and beautifully crafted by a master of the wildlife form Zoltan Török.
Mariam and The Sun, Anas Tolba (Egypt) – The film is inspired by true events and real characters living in upper Egypt in one of the poorest areas in the country. The film tells the story of ‘Mariam’, a young girl who is forced to get out of school by her father who sees education as a secondary priority to the prosperity of their household. Her dreams and aspirations as a young child, and her relationship with her younger brother and her teacher, all play a role in paving the road to her achievements in life.
People of the Forest: Orang Rimba, Isaac Kerlow (Singapore) – The ancestral forests of the nomadic Orang Rimba have vanished. In the short span of three decades oil palm plantations have replaced much of the tropical peatland rain forests in Jambi, Indonesia. The People of the Forest, Orang Rimba in their dialect, have nowhere to go.
RE:Thinking, Deborah C. Hoard and Rachel Ferro, PhotoSynthesis Productions (USA) – RE:Thinking shows the powerful positive change that occurs when teachers and students are empowered to build knowledge instead of memorize information. Following the work of cognitive scientists Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, RE:Thinking takes a systems thinking approach both to exploring the very purpose of education and in imagining what is needed to prepare young people for an uncertain world.
Remand, Craig Detweiler (USA) – Henry, a Ugandan boy, is losing hope, languishing in prison, awaiting trial for two murders he didn’t commit. Jim’s comfortable life as a Los Angeles lawyer nearly ensured he and Henry would never meet. Remand tells the true story of how Henry and Jim, separated by an ocean and differing cultures, worked together to inspire justice reform for an entire country.”It’s much, much bigger than one person. It’s much bigger than one case. This is a transformation that the Ugandans are engaging in.”
Second Chance Dogs, Kenn Bell, ASPCA (USA) – Chronicles the stories of dogs rescued from cruel situations and taken to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, N.J., where they begin a remarkable journey from rescue to rehabilitation and ultimately, adoption. Experts from the animal welfare community share insight on the perilous obstacles animal victims of cruelty face, as well as the innovative tactics and tools that give them a second chance.
The Box, Merve Cirisoglu Cotur (United Kingdom) – The Syrian conflict is one of the biggest tragedies of the 21st century and kids are the ones who suffer the most. More than 80 per cent of Syria’s child population (8.4 million children) are affected by the war. The Box presents the lives and feelings of refugee children. The happy life of the protagonist alters instantly with the sudden war and he finds himself in a state of struggle. In the movie, the war changes not only lives, but also the role of the box; first as a carefully built toy house, then as a place to take shelter in a refugee camp with full of dangers and finally as a boat that sails for a journey towards hope.
Wolf (Kurt), Ece Soydam (Turkey) – Wolves have been an important part of the Turkish wildlife for thousands of years. With the expansion of human settlements, their habitats are diminishing. The documentary is the one-year story of how wolves are trying to live in this changing environment and an important illustration of the dangers facing wildlife worldwide.
Beirut Parc, Matthias Frickel and Henning Hesse (Germany) – Beirut Parc, a football pitch in Lebanon’s capital, a focal point of the global refugee crisis. Here child refugees from Syria meet kids from Lebanon and Palestine, children who are refugees themselves and only know their homeland from the stories they’re told by their grandparents. This film delves into the everyday life of these youngsters, people who normally live very separate lives. But for the six weeks of ‘Soccer Camp Lebanon’ they come together for the first time. When they play football, they forget their ordeal and their displacement and dream of a better life out in the big, wide world.
Water of Life and Death, Chong Yuk Lam (Hong Kong) – On the frozen lake surface of Qinghai Lake, Zhou, the Buddhist Practitioner and his friends are delivering supplies to the temple built on the isolated island at the lake centre. At their own peril, they venture on the melting glaciers resulted from global warming. Sadly, humans aren’t the only victims; the wildlife around Qinghai Lake suffers the same fate. Urban development has destroyed the greenery and wetlands. They pose a threat to the life of the wildlife, whose regular sanctuary has suddenly become their last resting place. In face of such a predicament, some choose to devote their whole life to safeguard this piece of precious land.
See the Humanitarian Honorable Mention winners here: