Screening both classic and instructional films in refugee camps and poverty-stricken regions, charitable organization FilmAid is dedicated to changing lives through the power of cinema. The organization, started by Hollywood film producer Camille Baron (Capote, Monsoon Wedding), also sponsors activities that foster skills development.
“The similarities to what I am doing now and the work we do with FilmAid are evident,” Baron tells Vanity Fair about how her work in Hollywood compares to her organization’s. “The physical tools, cameras, lights, costumes, the camaraderie of cast and crew, team building, everyone working toward a common goal. In both worlds we want our audiences to be moved by the end product. But the differences are vast.”
As FilmAid’s manifesto puts it, the organization is dedicated to alleviating “psychological problems associated with trauma, isolation, idleness and despair, offering hope through the simple joy of the movies and the creative outlet of self-expression.” But besides just showing entertaining fare, FilmAid uses the power of the moving image to disseminate important information, such as about vaccinations. “I learned very quickly that we could use the screens for more than entertainment. We could also communicate life-saving education. We were drawing huge crowds, and everyone wanted to see what was being projected,” Baron explains.
“FilmAid’s content is made with extremely limited resources and the final product is not for sale. It is not about commerce,” Baron said. “Itis about creative self-expression, process, information, education, art and entertainment. We have a specific audience in mind and endeavor to evoke an emotional response while addressing critical issues. We work with individuals who are often cut off from their former lives and/or from the outside world.”
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