Sunday, February 05, 2017
In 2007, I received an offer from the United Nations Mission to the Democratic Republic in the Congo (MONUC) to become Chief of their Video Unit. I immediately accepted, and found a very talented international staff of 10, equipped with the latest Sony HD cameras and several state-of-art editing suites. The job was a dream come true, and I found the Congo a fascinating and very complex subject.
Over the next 5 years, we produced over 200 weekly video magazines with a Congolese cast shown on all major domestic television networks, with Congolese television journalist Horeb Bulambo as our main attraction. It seems only natural now that we should be working together again with members of the MONUC Video Unit team, with Horeb as the director of CONGO: A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?
One of the buzzwords in developmental planning circles in the past decade has been capacity building; this means passing on technological skills to developing countries so they can become self-reliant and independent. In the world of communications media, as noted previously, the cost of using analog film, audio and television technology has been a major stumbling block. Now, thanks to digital technology, this stumbling block has disappeared – a development I witnessed first hand in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where I saw the phenomenon of Radio Okapi, which is easily the most successful example of developmental communications capacity building in the world.
The result of a joint effort by the United Nations and the Swiss foundation Fondation Hirondelle, Radio Okapi was created in 2002 to provide a reliable source of national information in a country devastated by war. Today, with a staff of C. 200 reporting from around the DRC, Radio Okapi reaches over 50% of the population, and is the most popular and trusted radio station in the country; personally, I would have liked to emulate the Okapi capacity building model in digital video production, but this activity lay outside our mission mandate, and probably would have been blocked by our partners in the Congolese government, who already had periodic conflicts with Radio Okapi reporting on sensitive issues. Freedom of expression comes at a price in the DRC; three different Radio Okapi journalists have been murdered under very suspicious circumstances.
During my five years as Chief of the Video Unit, I was blessed with a superb team, and the star performers are my current partners – Director Horeb Bulambo, Cinematographer Albert Liesegang, Cinematographer/Editor Alan Brain and Editor/Graphic Designer Meriton Ahmeti. Together, we made a decision to look for good stories and to produce them in our own cinema verite style; we hated standard UN “ Voice of God” narration, and wanted to let our subjects tell their own stories whenever possible.
While we come from different backgrounds, the five of us share a dedication to the art and craft of cinema, and we are forever seeking to push the creative envelope to find new horizons to explore. Unfortunately, with its obsession with the printed word, the UN has never been able to understand visual media, with sadly predictable results.
Indeed, since 1976, I have had something of a love-hate relationship with the organization, and have left several times after creative disputes, vowing to never return. In 2000, for example, fed up with what I considered a cover up of massive Indonesian human rights violations in Timor Leste, I left UNTAET to make my own independent documentary feature about East Timor. The result, produced on a shoestring budget, EAST TIMOR: BETRAYAL AND RESURRECTION, was technically rough, but it won the prestigious UN Correspondents’ Association’s Ricardo Ortega Award for Excellence in Electronic Journalism in 2004. This film also was extremely popular with the East Timorese, who are now producing a Portuguese version for distribution to the Lusaphonic countries of the world. ( For this film, please see: https://youtu.be/j_s46-5R4OE )
In Congo, my dream has been to pick up where that documentary left off, and to produce a feature documentary showing both the existential challenges confronting UN Peacekeepers in the field, and the hopes and dreams of the people of the host nation from their perspective. CONGO:A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? is the realization of that dream.
Our Sample Demo on Human Rights, which is Part 4 in CONGO: THE AFRICAN SPRING offers a good illustration of our cinematic style and approach. While we are telling the story of the late Fernando Castanon on one level, we have several narrative threads unfolding simultaneously to give a feeling of the unending wave of human rights violations that required investigation – with most of these cases never being brought to a satisfactory conclusion. ( For the link to our Human Rights Sample Demo, please click here: https://vimeo.com/154673345
Our talented Director Horeb Bulambo, now on location in Congo, will deliver a personal and poetic introduction to each chapter from Congo. Our editor Meriton Ahmeti is a highly skilled graphic designer with a full arsenal of fonts and animated techniques, as well as a talented composer. Along with using original Congolese music, Meriton will be creating a score for CONGO: A MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?
We are looking forward to producing a feature documentary that will be aesthetically bold, dynamic and as emotionally gripping and powerful as Congo itself. We were there four years longer than Josef Conrad, so we have a creative obligation to provide a contemporary update on his century-old vision.
For The Samba Project, LLC demo reel, please click on this link:
https://vimeo.com/140320502 (no password needed!)
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
UN Academic Impact March Newsletter
FPCD Supports the UN Academic Impact.
By Supporting the UN ACADEMIC IMPACT the FPCD agrees to the following:
1. A commitment to the principles inherent in the United Nations Charter as values that education seeks to promote and help fulfil;2. A commitment to human rights, among them freedom of inquiry, opinion, and speech;
3. A commitment to educational opportunity for all people regardless of gender, race, religion or ethnicity;
4. A commitment to the opportunity for every interested individual to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary for the pursuit of higher education;
5. A commitment to building capacity in higher education systems across the world;
6. A commitment to encouraging global citizenship through education;
7. A commitment to advancing peace and conflict resolution through education;
8. A commitment to addressing issues of poverty through education;
9. A commitment to promoting sustainability through education;
10. A commitment to promoting inter-cultural dialogue and understanding, and the “unlearning” of intolerance, through education.
Read the UN Academic Impact March Newsletter here:
Saturday, December 21, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Press Release: Mary David Recognized by Diplomatic Courier
September 10, 2013
Diplomatic Courier and YPFP Recognize Mary David on “99 Under 33”
The 99 Under 33 recognizes the distinctive impact each of the honorees has on his or her community today and their promise of potential as a leader in the future. This list uniquely offers insight into the creativity, determination, and passion of the diverse young people who are already tackling the world's critical global challenges. By design, this list is broad and diverse, which reflects the belief that foreign policy in the 21st century is made by leaders from all sectors.
“Mary David is a remarkable champion on all aspects of human trafficking. She is an asset to our Foundation and to our global society” said Claudia Abate-Debat, Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for Post Conflict Development.
“Mary David has made it her mission to aid the poor and disadvantaged in areas recovering from conflict. As a Shaper, Mary has altered the public conversation on collateral damage and encouraged the world to remember the people swept into war,” highlights Ana C. Rold, Editor-in-Chief, Diplomatic Courier.
The “99 Under 33” recognizes seven leadership archetypes that define the list:
· A Catalyst is from a field not typically associated with foreign policy who has had an impact on international affairs.
· A Convener brings people together in creative ways to address a pressing international issue or enhance the foreign policy community.
· An Influencer mobilizes people in the foreign policy community with bold new ideas.
· An Innovator designs a new solution to a critical global challenge.
· A Practitioner changes foreign policy from the inside through extraordinary professionalism and skill.
· A Risk-taker takes a chance and sees it pay off.
· A Shaper changes the public discourse on an aspect of foreign policy or raises awareness on a critical issue.
About Us: The Foundation for Post Conflict Development is a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization that strives to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals in Post Conflict areas.Our landmark project is the Prince Rainier III Maternity Clinic in Timor-Leste. The FPCD website is www.postconflictdev.org
About Us: The Diplomatic Courier is the global affairs magazine that connects the diplomatic and policy establishment to the next generation of leaders in diplomacy and foreign policy. The Diplomatic Courier publishes six print issues per year, as well as weekly online at www.diplomaticourier.com and a daily blog, On Point. The Diplomatic Courier is an independent publication both in its voice and its organization. Publishing opinions from all political spectrums, the Courier adheres to the ideals of freedom of expression, individualism, and fair and balanced journalism.
Monday, September 09, 2013
PEACEJAM, Nobel Laureates, Youth and YOU
FPCD Supports PEACEJAM
Watch this informative Tedx Talk by PEACEJAM Founders
Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff
and learn how to get involved in the
1 Billion Acts of Peace Campaign
Saturday, September 07, 2013
FPCD at MALALA DAY
FPCD Participates in MALALA DAY at the United Nations
Amanda Nesheiwat, FPCD Youth Representative, presents her perspective here.
"On July 12th, I had the opportunity to attend the first ever Malala Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Nearly 1000 youth from around the world gathered for a Global Youth Takeover of the General Assembly and called upon world leaders to understand the importance of educating our youth. I was happy to be there in support of Malala Yousafzai and what she represented as well as being in a room filled with youth representatives from 75 nations who made their way to NYC to have their voices heard on an issue we consider very urgent.
(Amanda Nesheiwat, far right, with Youth Representatives from around the world)
The event started with words by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and the President of the General Assembly. Then Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon told us all his incredible story of how he was a child in poverty and education was everything to him and how the United Nations helped him learn to read by providing books to children. As Malala made her way to the podium, all of the youth delegates stood up including Malala’s parent’s and sang Happy Birthday to her since the UN intentionally made Malala Day on her 16th birthday.
(Secretary General Ban ki-Moon speaks at the podium)
As we all sat down with anticipation of hearing what she had to say, she told us that Malala Day is not in fact a celebration for her, but for all of the boys and girls in the world who raised their voices for their rights. She spoke of how the Taliban shot her in the head and thought that they would silence her and her friends, but instead created courage and strength among millions of people. She spoke of the tragedy and how common it is for young people to go to school in war ridden areas and talked of the many challenges that young woman in some parts of the world must go through to go to school.
Unfortunately, there are currently 57 million children in the world who do not have access to education. Perhaps the most memorable quote from her inspirational speech was when she told us that our books and pens are our most powerful weapons saying that extremists are afraid of women and the power of education. These powerful words brought some of us to tears including the Secretary Ban, his wife and Malala’s parents. No child should ever have to go through such a traumatic experience just to get an education, our human right. The youth presented a “Global Youth Resolution: The Education We Want” to the Secretary General and the US Special Envoy for Global Education that we had all put together previous to the event. The resolution resonated with the Millennium Development Goals and laid out a plan for fair and affordable universal education. Since Malala Day, world leaders have recommitted to prioritizing education. I feel so honored to have been at Malala Day with so many inspiring and passionate young people who are shaping the outcome of our future.
(A standing ovation from the world's youth for Malala)
By: Amanda J Nesheiwat