Films that are changing the world: What can you do?
Things don’t end with the rolling of the final credits. Some of the documentaries have an associated campaign that viewers can join. These campaigns usually offer a way of helping the film’s protagonists handle their difficulties. But you will also find general campaigns which are not connected with the films directly, just with the topic. Below are presented tips for Czech organisations and initiatives focused on the issues presented in the films. There are many ways in which you can be involved. If you do not find the solution you were looking for after watching the film, don’t hesitate to find your own way. Start a petition, become a volunteer, contribute to humanitarian aid, or participate in a charitable collection. It also helps to share and disseminate information among your friends and family.
Arica and corporate responsibility
The film Arica tells the story of the town of the same name in Chile, near which the Swedish mining company Boliden dumped a large amount of toxic waste. Local children turned the landfill into a playground. Exposure to hazardous waste significantly affected the health of people in the local community, the number of children born with disabilities increased, and average life expectancy decreased. The locals are still suffering the consequences of Boliden's irresponsibility and non-transparency. The documentary is linked to the Toxic Justice impact campaign, which aims to make large companies more accountable in order to avoid any repetition of the case of Arica Victims vs. Boliden.
Be a Hero
Ady Barkan is an American activist whose captivating life story is told in the documentary Not Going Quietly. At the age of 33, doctors gave him a devastating diagnosis: Ady suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS for short). The disease, which most people associate with Stephen Hawking, causes gradual muscle paralysis. But that didn't stop Ady from being a husband and father and from launching the Be a Hero campaign, which loudly criticises the shortcomings of the American healthcare system. More about the campaign, Ady's life story and opportunities to get involved can be found on the Be a Hero fund website.
On 9 August 2020, Alexander Lukashenko was elected President of Belarus for the sixth time. Protests subsequently erupted across the country, watched by the whole world. The film Courage quickly provided an impressive reflection of the whole situation from the point of view of the ensemble of the Belarusian Free Theatre. Several initiatives have been launched to support the Belarusian protesters, whose freedom of expression has been persistently silenced by the repressive state forces. Amnesty International collects signatures in support of a free Belarus. Thanks to the Human Rights Foundation, people can express their solidarity with Belarus by means of a financial contribution. The Belarus Solidarity Fund's target is two million dollars, and it's getting there!
Black Education Matters
The issue of systemic racism in the United States is addressed in the documentary Black Boys. But the filmmakers want to go beyond a mere audio-visual enterprise. Through the Frontlines of Justice educational platform, they encourage students who are unhappy with the education they receive, or their parents, not to remain silent, so that the prospects in life for African Americans can amount to more than just a sports career, or worse, prison. Education and justice for all is the focus of the campaign .
The battle for independent media in the Philippines
Maria Ressa is a Filipino journalist and founder of the Rappler investigative editorial office, who has gradually become a political activist due to her fight for an independent media in the country during the reign of Rodriguez Duterte. The #HoldTheLine campaign, launched by Reporters Without Borders, offers three levels of involvement: spreading the campaign through a hashtag, signing a petition to withdraw the charges against Maria Ressa and her colleagues, and contributing financially to support Reporters Without Borders. The documentary A Thousand Cuts will certainly play a role in the decision-making process.
A tick bite can be more than just a momentary inconvenience. The consequences can be far-reaching and unpredictable. Joonas Berghäll, director of The Red Ring, was confronted with borreliosis, also known as Lyme disease. For many years, doctors were unable to identify what was wrong with his body. They insisted that he was healthy and branded him a malingerer. There are many people like him all around the world. The goal of the Global Lyme Alliance is to raise awareness of the insidious nature of borreliosis and increase the effectiveness of treatment. You can contribute to this cause on the association's website.
The film Silent Voice follows the story of a young man who was forced to flee Chechnya because he is gay. The trauma of his forced escape was reflected in the loss of his voice. The persecution that people of different sexual orientations face in this autonomous republic of the Russian Federation is an open secret. The #EyesOnChechnya campaign, organised by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, is defending against this violation of human rights. By spreading awareness of the difficult situation in Chechnya, whether in regular conversation or on social networks, the issue comes to light. You can also contribute financially to the campaign and the fight for the rights of LGBTQ groups.
EHP and Norway funds
Through the European Economic Area and Norway Funds, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway contribute to reducing economic disparities among EU countries. Among other matters, this includes support for the mediation of cultural production in these countries. This year, for example, support was provided from Norwegian funds for the film Seyran Ateş: Sex, Revolution and Islam. The Norwegian production tells the story of the woman who founded the first liberal mosque in Berlin and faces constant danger of attack by radical Muslims.
Get involved. Yemen is hungry. Millions of people are malnourished, the consequences of the war are dire, and hospitals are under enormous pressure every day. The mid-length documentary Hunger Ward also presents the story of a pair of hospitals for the malnourished, which will leave few viewers unshaken. As part of the official impact campaign for the film, the filmmakers offer four ways of involving the audience. The basis is to subscribe to receive information about the situation in Yemen. This is followed by participation in social media with the hashtags #HungerWard and #YemenCantWait. The third step is a financial donation to one of the two hospitals shown in the film. And if you are truly serious about helping Yemen, there is a fourth step: to engage with and co-operate with the organisations that are active in this area. Get involved!
Yezidi women in captivity
Sex slavery is one of the ongoing crimes of the so-called Islamic State. Yezidi women are still abducted and held as sex slaves. The gripping film Sabaya tells the story of their perilous liberation and subsequent psychological convalescence. Persecuted Yezidis can be helped, either financially or by volunteering, thanks to the Free Yezidi Foundation. The non-profit organisation is committed to helping Yezidis and spreading awareness of the desperate situation in which this community finds itself.
Computer scientist Joy Buolamwini has discovered deeply rooted prejudices in camera systems. These cameras often do not recognise people with darker skin or women, who are therefore automatically identified as potential threats. The film Coded Bias documents this issue, and is accompanied by an impact campaign in the form of a petition drawing attention to the fact that in today's world rights associated with data and their processing are a basic human right. In the Czech Republic, you can sign the My Face Belongs to Me petition. The Digital Freedom organisation is part of the international campaign #ReclaimYourFace, which aims to prevent the mass use of biometric surveillance.
LGBTQ in Hungary
During the reign of Viktor Orbán, Hungary is not a place where LGBTQ people can feel like ordinary members of society. The documentary Her Mothers shows the difficulties faced by homoparental families in the country. In addition, in May 2020 the 33rd Amendment to the Constitution was approved, prohibiting transgender people from asserting their gender identity. It is therefore unrecognised by law. Join Amnesty International and write a letter to the Hungarian Commissioner for Human Rights. In addition to human rights violations in Hungary, the petition translated into Czech also tackles a similar situation in Poland.
Canadian director Suzanne Crocker and her whole family tried an experiment in which for a whole year they did not eat anything imported, only local food. This challenge is mapped in the documentary First We Eat. And since the theme of the film has considerable educational potential, it is no surprise that you will find a "What can I do?" tab on its official website. It contains 13 steps to help improve the food ecosystem in your area. From small steps such as checking the brands and origin of the food you buy, through growing it yourself, to making financial donations to organisations that strive for the sustainability of human eating habits.
Marriage for all?
In December 2017, the We Are Fair (Jsme fér) movement began collecting signatures for a paper petition for marriage for all. In May 2018, the petition was signed by almost 70,000 people, but the draft amendment to the law has not yet been approved. The whole process of combating homophobia in the Czech Republic is documented in the film Law of Love. In 2020, the movement decided to continue the petition, this time online. Any signature and dissemination of the petition can potentially give it more weight in the eyes of members of parliament, who in the end did not vote to pass important amendments to the law during this electoral term.
The return of wolves
The documentary Wolves at the Borders shows two conflicting views about the return of wolves to the Czech countryside. Some point to the dangers and damage caused by the predators, others argue that this return is natural and cannot be prevented without disrupting the natural cycle of nature. The RAINBOW movement focuses on this issue, organising volunteers for wolf patrols, trying to fight poaching, and protecting the large carnivores from other human dangers. Their efforts can be supported by a financial gift or by purchasing unique photos of the animals from photo traps.
Mental health is a huge topic, especially during the pandemic. The film Beautiful Something Left Behind provides insight into the Good Grief community in New Jersey, which cares for young children who have lost a loved one. The movement can be supported by a single or repeated donation.
In the Czech Republic, the Nevypusť duši initiative has been running for several years now. It organises workshops primarily for high school students and teachers, and during the pandemic it made a significant contribution to the mental health care of students in distance learning. You can support them in the same way as the American Good Grief organisation.
Sure We Can
The documentary The Fourth Kingdom, Kingdom of Plastic reveals the enchanting microworld of lost existences that have been found in the Sure We Can community "recycling centre". This film, documenting a panoply of quirky characters, who thanks to this place were able to piece their lives back together and look to the future with hope, attempts to combine a social integration programme with an ecological message. These goals can be supported on the website of the initiative itself, to which the film also refers.
The documentary Housing Against Everyone records the difficulties of enforcing the law on social housing faced by the Rapid Re-Housing organisation in Brno. The Prague Platform for Social Housing also helps apply the ideas of Housing First: to help people out of homelessness, to return children to their families, and to enforce the law on social housing in parliament. Unemployment, foreclosure and low incomes all throw thousands of people into a potential housing emergency that these organisations aim to address.
Big cats in the wild
There are currently less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild. As the film Maya shows, the reintegration of tigers raised in captivity into the wild is difficult, if not impossible. The Save Tigers Now initiative, started by the World Wildlife Fund in collaboration with actor Leonardo DiCaprio, was established with the aim of doubling that number by 2022 – the end of the next Year of the Tiger. The aim is to rectify what humanity has done through poaching and the illegal trade in tiger meat and furs.
The crisis in Venezuela, which has lasted for almost a decade, still shows no signs of ending. It started under President Hugo Chávez and was continued by his successor, Nicolás Maduro. High unemployment, hyperinflation and malnutrition have led to corruption, human rights abuses and thus a huge outflow of population. The film Once Upon a Time in Venezuela follows the country's decline by focusing on a specific community, while also trying to improve the situation there through an impact campaign. Raising awareness and establishing dialogue are only the first steps. Equally important is the effort to reach out to organisations that are interested and have the means to help Venezuela. The crisis does not discriminate: what happened to Venezuelans can also happen to any other nation.
For safe abortions
As the situation in neighbouring Poland (among others) shows, abortion is still regarded as unacceptable in many countries around the world. One of the most extreme cases is in El Salvador, as mapped by the film Fly So Far. Women face imprisonment even if they are only suspected of aborting their child. The activist and protagonist of the documentary Teodora Vásquez is trying to fight the situation, as is the worldwide campaign Safe Abortion: Women's Right. It brings together organisations and individuals in the battle for women's right to make decisions about their own bodies.