Top film-makers focus on poverty, despite U.N. row

Thu Oct 23, 2008 5:21pm EDT
 
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By Silvia Aloisi

ROME (Reuters) - Wim Wenders and Jane Campion are two of the acclaimed directors behind a collection of short films on the United Nations' fight against poverty, but the U.N. agency meant to sponsor the project has pulled out of it.

"8," which premiered at the Rome film festival on Thursday, brings together eight film-makers to illustrate the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals, set in 2000 and aimed at halving the number of extremely poor and hungry people by 2015.

Each director takes a different angle to show how poverty, climate change, lack of access to education and basic health facilities are affecting the world's needy and also those living in the rich West.

African film-maker Abderrahmane Sissako looks at an 8-year old boy being taught about the U.N. goals in a bare school in Ethiopia; actor-turned-director Gael Garcia Bernal shows a father in Iceland explaining the importance of education to his son; Campion explores the ravages of drought in Australia.

Gus Van Sant, author of cult movies like "To Die For" and "Paranoid Park," plays on the contrast between carefree American skateboarders and the dire statistics on child mortality in poor countries.

Dutch-born Jan Kounen follows a pregnant woman in Amazonia desperately trying to find a doctor while another of the film's chapters, by Argentinian-born Gaspar Noe, focuses on AIDS.

But it is Indian director Mira Nair's take on gender equality that sparked a row with the United Nations Development Programme, which has now withdrawn its support from the project.

"AN INSULT TO ISLAM"   Continued...