Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nexus of Film & Activism in Kampala

(Delighted to welcome back IntLawGrrls alumna and filmmaker Pamela Yates, who contributes this guest post to IntLawGrrls' series on the ICC Kampala Conference)

At Skylight Pictures we (Peter Kinoy, Paco de Onís, and I) spend a lot of time thinking about ways to heighten the impact of our films in order to increase awareness of human rights and justice issues. For over 25 years we’ve been committed to the art of storytelling through the language of cinema – lush cinematography, music woven in to enhance the narrative, thoughtful editing that seamlessly transports the viewer through time and space – in the belief that it will bring audiences to a deeper level of engagement.
In recent years, as social media tools have proliferated, we have adapted many of them to our mission. An example is the international justice Twitter feed on the IJCentral map, about which I blogged in this IntLawGrrls post.
But because much of our outreach work is in developing countries, we also produce lo-tech projects designed to engage audiences on the ground, for whom traveling through cyberspace is not an option.
And that’s the reason that Skylight's at the International Criminal Court Review Conference in Kampala, with 1,000 Screening Kits of our film The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (prior IntLawGrrls posts here and here) -- to give out free of charge to civil society organizations, to country delegations, and to the press. (Thanks to generous support from Humanity United and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.) The Kits are in English and French, and include:
The Reckoning (60-minute version)
ICC and Africa (20-minute film)
Peace & Justice (20-minute film)
► Screening/Discussion Guide
► Audience Survey Form
► FAQs about the ICC
The impetus to make the Screening Kits came from 180 African civil society organizations that banded together and signed a petition to protest the 2009 declaration (available here) by the African Union (logo at right) of non-cooperation with the ICC with regard to the arrest warrant it issued for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. While the international press focused on the AU declaration and its critique of the ICC, the pushback against impunity coming from the civil society organizations wasn’t getting any attention. The latter organisations were saying that the AU wasn’t offering the victims any justice alternative to the ICC -- that it was effectively declaring Africa an “impunity zone”. They wanted to raise public awareness of how the ICC works and how it operates as a court of last resort.
So we reached out to these organisations to see if we could produce a media tool they could use to increase awareness of the role that the ICC can play in the battle against impunity. In coordination with Pivot Pictures, a media initiative of the International Center for Transitional Justice, we coordinated with the ICTJ country offices in Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, and South Africa to work out what materials and themes to include in the Kit. After a period of exchanging ideas and getting feedback from the civil society organizations on 2 short films that we produced for the project, we arrived at the menu listed above. Now those organisations will receive their Screening Kits and go forth to use them – we’ve created an online Screening Report form for the them to use, so that we may track the use of the Kits and the impact they are having.
The Kampala ICC Review Conference is an extraordinary opportunity to have massive impact with The Reckoning and a range of short films and microdocs we produced about international justice themes. We will be screening all this material non-stop at the RC Media Centre, and we also have several screenings planned at the People’s Space, where civil society organizations from around the world are gathered this 2 weeks in order to discuss the ICC. The Kampala theatrical Premiere of The Reckoning was at Watoto Church yesterday, and there will be a national broadcast on UBC, Ugandan national television, today.
And watch for our video blogs at the RC Media Centre. They'll be posted daily at IJCentral.

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