Thursday, March 24, 2011

ENVISION: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries

IFP and the United Nations
Department of Public Information
Announce Opening Keynote Speaker, Films and Panels
for Third Annual
“ENVISION: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries”

Opening Night Address by HARRY BELAFONTE
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Envision Advisory Board Member


2011 Academy-Award® Nominee WASTE LAND

A Two-Day Forum Exploring Creative Solutions to Extreme Poverty and Hunger

NEW YORK (March, 2011) - The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI) announced the films and panels for the third annual "Envision: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries" forum, to be held on Friday April 8th and Saturday April 9th at TheTimesCenter, 242 West 41st in New York City.

This jointly produced event combines film presentations with substantive discussions on pressing global issues. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) serve as the focal point for presentations, screenings, panel discussions and social networking. The Spotlight Focus for Envision in 2011 will be exploring creative solutions to poverty and hunger, specifically focusing on the MDG of eradicating extreme global poverty and hunger.

“As we launch into our third year of the Envision program, I can’t help but be struck by the dramatic changes that have occurred recently. This year’s theme of poverty and hunger are both concerns of a long term nature but have particular immediacy. The world has just experienced a natural disaster that has lead to an example of tremendous need. We are so pleased to be partnered with the United Nations in offering a platform for discussion and potential change.” said Joana Vicente, IFP Executive Director.

“I am very pleased that the Envision forum is returning in 2011. There cannot be a better time to bring together documentary filmmakers and humanitarian activists to discuss the critical themes of poverty and hunger,” said Kiyo Akasaka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

“As the MDG target date of 2015 draws near, we must redouble our efforts to bring the crisis facing so much of the world’s population into the public eye. Documentarians, who present complex issues to filmgoers in ways that engage the heart and the mind alike, are crucial allies in that effort.”

On April 8th, Envision will open with a keynote address by Harry Belafonte, Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).“Mr. Belafonte personifies, through his life-long commitment to humanitarian issues, the goals of Envision. We are so honored to have him with us” said Vicente.

Over two days, Envision will present three distinctive documentaries exploring poverty and hunger from different viewpoints and in differing styles. A special screening of THE SOUND OF MUMBAI: A MUSICAL by emerging documentary talent Sarah McCarthy will open Envision. For one emotional night, a group of children living in a slum in Mumbai, India, get a chance to experience a different world as they perform The Sound of Music with a classical orchestra, fostering hopes that it could change their lives. As described by the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival,”In telling this story, McCarthy remains mindful of the gaps that lie between dreams and reality, rich and poor. The film never glosses over the difficulty of closing those gaps, but it joyfully expresses the effort of attempting.” THE SOUND OF MUMBAI is a presentation of HBO Documentary Films.

In an advance sneak preview screening, Phil Grabsky’s THE BOY MIR: TEN YEARS IN AFGHANISTAN follows the charismatic Mir from a childish eight to a fully grown eighteen-year-old. Over those ten years, the film charts a journey into early adulthood in one of the toughest places on earth; a journey that mirrors the current and vitally important story of Afghanistan. Grabsky first introduced Mir in his award-winning THE BOY WHO PLAYS ON THE BUDDHAS OF BAMIYAN in 2003.

Lucy Walker’s 2011 Academy-Award® nominated WASTE LAND follows world-renowned artist Vik Muniz, who journeys from his home in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. His collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives.

Additional clips from thematically-related documentaries currently in production will highlight the panel “On the Front Lines: Balancing Issues and Art in Documentary Storytelling” on Saturday, April 9th.

Another element of the program is 1.4 Billion Reasons, a special multi-media presentation by Hugh Evans, Co-Founder, The Global Poverty Project. Based on leading research, this simple yet ground-breaking presentation clearly articulates the facts of extreme poverty and demonstrates that by making simple changes, everyone can be part of the solution. The presentation aims to deeply communicate the challenges and opportunities of extreme poverty and to work as a platform to inspire and facilitate individuals to become actively involved in eradicating poverty.

Additional panel discussions will include Breaking Point: Food Security and Countries in Crisis, moderated by CNN’s Jim Clancy, and The Role of Women in Alleviating Poverty and Hunger.

The full program schedule is available at

Leaders from the international filmmaking community, prominent United Nations representatives, entrepreneurs, activists, journalists, economists, public policy makers, and NGOs will be participating in the Envision program.

Envision is pleased to have The New York Times as it's Media Sponsor and host for 2011.

An Envision pass for access to all programs, including films and panels is $35.00.
To register, go to

Media seeking accreditation to attend this event should contact or

The non-profit Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) is collaborating with the United Nations Department of Public Information’s Creative Community Outreach Initiative to create an annual destination in NYC that unites the international filmmaking community, civil society organizations, entrepreneurs, activists, journalists, economists, public policy makers, NGOs, and the general public with representatives from the UN in the shared goal of envisioning a better world for all.

After debuting with a program in the 1979 New York Film Festival, the nonprofit IFP has evolved into the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, and also the premier advocate for them. Since its start, IFP has supported the production of 7,000 films and provided resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers – voices that otherwise might not have been heard. IFP fosters the development of 250 new feature and documentary films each year through its Project Forum of Independent Film Week, Independent Filmmaker Labs and projects in its fiscal sponsorship program. IFP believes that independent films enrich the universal language of cinema, seeding the global culture with new ideas, kindling awareness, and fostering activism. The organization has fostered early work by leading filmmakers including Charles Burnett, Edward Burns, Jim Jarmusch, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, Mira Nair and Kevin Smith. For information:

As the public voice of the United Nations, the Department of Public Information (DPI) promotes awareness and greater understanding of the work of the United Nations, communicating the activities and concerns of the organization to achieve the greatest public impact. Launched in 2009, the UN Creative Community Outreach Initiative was designed to highlight critical global issues through collaborations with the film and television industries.

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