As a journalist, educator and documentary filmmaker, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of war, poverty, hatred and hunger. My deep interest in humanitarian issues has led me to create the annual international documentary United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF). Unlike other film festivals, which focus on one theme, one part of the world or one ethnic group, UNAFF is striving to provide a cross-section of the world by illuminating numerous issues from various countries, bound together by the common thread of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Last year's festival screened forty-one films dealing with topics from Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Congo, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Kenya, Kosovo, France, Germany, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Namibia, Netherlands, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, the UK, the US and Vietnam. By bringing together filmmakers, the academic community and the general public, UNAFF offers a unique opportunity for creative exchange and education among groups and individuals often separated by geography, ethnicity and economic constraints.
Here are some of the comments about the UNAFF:
"I am very pleased to say it was a tremendous pleasure to attend your festival and meet your staff. Everyone was delightful and extremely helpful. It is a festival like no other because of the content, location, and commitment of volunteers. There are so many festivals sprouting up across the country with diverse festival themes that one loses distinction between the masses. UNAFF sets the standard. The jury selection committee was top notch. Forty nations represented! The multi-cultural film program expanded our own education of filmmaking tools and opened our eyes to topics large and small. It goes without saying the media in the US does not generate enough multi-cultural storytelling and it is extremely important to celebrate the work of both International filmmakers and Indigenous filmmakers alike because we (the audience) are exposed to a different perspective of the world. There are elements of truth communicated in these films that teach us a little bit more about ourselves. For this reason, it is encouraging to see the dedication your festival provides to showcase underrepresented but well-deserved films alongside award winning triumphs." Sarah Del Seronde, Filmmaker, Making The River
"Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to be associated with the film festival. It was a wonderful success and I would echo the comments by others that it provided us with opportunities to be in places we have never been or will ever be; to listen in on conversations we may have never had an opportunity to listen to; to witness human interactions whose implications for fairness, equity and justice were unfathomable; to understand the world and issues from perspectives that may have been alien to us; to reaffirm our beliefs and convictions about gender equity, national self-determination, peace, etc., and of course the opportunity to dialogue with the film/documentary makers." Meda O. Okelo, Community Services Department, East Palo Alto
Our relentless efforts in promoting awareness of global issues have been rewarded at the annual UNA-USA Convention in New York, where UNAFF received the prestigious Earl W. Eames Award for innovatively combining new technologies with traditional media. As an acknowledgment of our 10th anniversary, UNAFF received the “Community Treasure Award” from Stanford University President, John Hennessy, for our contributions to the community in promoting dialogue and education about different cultures and issues. For the last four years the mayor of Palo Alto has proclaimed the festival days as UNAFF Week, recognizing consistently the significance that our Stanford event has for the community. We are also proud that UNAFF has twice won the WAVE Awards for best promotional trailer.
Encouraged by an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience and the media, we established a Traveling Film Festival, which has taken place in San Francisco, Berkeley, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Davis, Saratoga, Sonoma, Sebastopol, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington DC, New York, Burlington at University of Vermont, New Hampshire, Bellevue, Durham at Duke University, New Haven at Yale University, Waukesha at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Boston and Cambridge at Harvard University and internationally in Paris, Venice, Belgrade and Phnom Penh.
In its first decade of existence UNAFF has earned a number of accolades and achievements. In order to continue our legacy of presenting quality films and giving voice to people, issues and places that are not always presented through other media, we need your help. We are doing our best to implement essential changes to the UNAFF organization: from being an all-volunteer program to one with a small paid staff working from a more strategic level that will enable us to maintain our current programs at their high level of quality, and give us the stability we need to expand to meet our community’s needs. Although we support the goals of the UN and the United Nations Association, we do not receive access to their funds, thus your contribution is critical for our future. UNAFF does not have a membership fee. Your participation is the most important source for UNAFF fulfilling its mission through the year.
By making a tax-deductible donation to the UNAFF you will directly give a chance to tens of thousands of people to see these important documentaries that bring us together as a diverse community. Please send your gift (check payable to UNAFF) to:
P.O. Box 19369
Stanford, CA 94309
All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law for 501(c) 3 organizations
Your support at this critical juncture can make the difference in UNAFF continued survival. If you are able to provide a donation or recommend us to someone appropriate who may wish to help, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I thank you in advance for your consideration in this critical time.
For more information, please visit our Web site at www.unaff.org or call us at (650) 724-5544.
Founder and Executive Director, UNAFF/UNAFF Traveling Film Festival
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