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 led me to create fifteen years ago the annual international documentary festival UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival). 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 presented 70 films dealing with the topics from Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Benin, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma, Canada, Chad, China, Congo, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana,, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mali, Morocco, Mexico, Moldova, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, UAE, Uganda, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
UNAFF offered seven free panel discussions during which renowned experts elucidated topics such as teachers’ pay as a factor in the quality of education, the transformational power of art, how to make healthy food choices, child labor and living in a world that values and promotes happiness and well being.
For the third year in the row we presented a very popular matinee program “UNAFF & Kids”, which received the prestigious Academy Foundation Grant provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Also, “UNAFF in Schools”, which began in 2005, had screenings in Palo Alto High School, Eastside College Preparatory School and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula in East Palo Alto. Both events were free for all students and teachers.
Here is a selection of comments from some of our audience members:
“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.”
“Thank you so much for all your efforts in bringing these films to the Bay Area. You're changing lives!”
“Thank you very much. I hope you can get these films shown in many other cities.”
“Very worthwhile. Learned a lot from the films and after-movie discussions.”
“This is a fantastic event. It is so important to have these films shown, these issues addressed to spur minds/hearts.”
“A closely assembled and responsible collection of important documentaries!”
“Wonderful, educational, very inspiring with the effort of Jasmina and crew.”
“Fantastic. Very informative, and makes me want to do something about these issues. More people should see these films.”
“Inspirational films about extraordinary human beings making an incredible difference in the world.”
Encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response from our audience and the media, we continue UNAFF screenings year round with our Traveling Film Festival, which takes place in numerous locations around the US and even around the world.
In its first decade of existence UNAFF has earned a number of accolades and achievements and has screened some of the most awarded and talked about documentaries in the industry including 5 that went on to win Academy Awards and 21 that were nominated. 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. 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 in 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:
PO Box 19369
Stanford, CA 94309
All contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law for 501(c) 3 organizations.
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 at this difficult time. For more information about UNAFF, please visit our Web site at www.unaff.org, or call us at (650) 724-5544.
Save the date for the 15th UNAFF Anniversary, October 18-28, 2012. The theme is “HUMAN DIGNITY”.
Founder and Executive Director, UNAFF & UNAFF Traveling Film Festival