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Dutch Filmmaker Waiving Credits to Kibera

Canada, March 23rd 2011- At the end of March the inhabitants of the second largest slum of Africa, the Kibera Slum in Nairobi Kenya, will be the proud proprietors of a monument in honor of African disabled people in general and the main characters of the movie “The Voice of 650 Million” in particular.

The European filmmaker Marijn Poels waived his rights to the Dodie Spittal award given to him in Canada and decided to integrate the plaque in a monument made by the Kenyan artist Ernest M. Muyonga and place it in the centre of Kibera.

“I never faced any danger,” Poels said during the award ceremony at the film festival in Calgary. “The main characters in my film however did.

They run risks every day of their lives and therefore I want to honor their bravery, their courage with this monument. For everyone to admire and applause.”

The European filmmaker Marijn Poels won the film award on the International Picture this Film Festival in Canada with the VSO documentary “The Voice of 650 Million Times One”.

In order to make the movie he filmed extensively in the Kibera Slum and surroundings where he interviewed a number of people living with a disability.

After its world release in June 2010 in the Netherlands, the documentary traveled extensively throughout the world. It was screened on a number of international film festivals, global conferences and political congresses.

VSO and filmmaker Poels are using this documentary to raise attention worldwide for the global issue that exclusion of people with a disability still happens every day. In particular in terms of education regarding HIV and AIDS and reproductive health.

During the production of the film, back in February 2010 in Kenya, filmmaker Poels was touched by the powerful way persons with a disability spoke candidly about their exclusion by society in front of his camera. He also admired the strength of disabled persons. Besides filming in Nairobi Poels also made recordings in Vietnam for this film.

The jury of the International Film Festival Canada adjudicated the film as best film in the spirit of communities moving forward. The jury said: “Incredible people with disabilities who self-advocate and educate. A very good documentary which gives information about three regions of the world. Good shots, interesting frames, a very interesting style and high quality of filming.  A story of human courage with a very good depiction of issues and disabilities… Terrific!”

Poels attended the Gala Award Evening in February 2011 in Calgary. He surprised the audience with his speech, when he proclaimed that he would waive the credits to Kibera: “By making this movie I did not run dangerous risks or made threatening sacrifices. I had no fear to be persecuted in my own environment. Unlike the people I filmed; they are persons with a disability who are not accepted even in their own community as fully potential human beings.

Those who are on top of the poverty lists, often ignored in hospitals and communities, who often become victims of rape and discrimination. It was their courage to stand up, despite all threats from their communities, and speak in the name of human rights. So I cannot accept this film award, because I did not make the story, those in front of my camera did.”

Marijn Poels apprised to take the award in person to Nairobi-Kenya. Together with the local inhabitants of Kibera, the artist Ernest M. Muyonga, and the main characters in the movie, he will be integrating the award in a solid monument and place it in the centre of the slum.

The monument will be officially opened on March the 25th. Poels: “It will be a symbol of the power of disabled persons who dare to stand up and speak in the name of human rights. I feel privileged to give this monument to them, so nobody will ever forget their bravery. This monument will be a symbol of the power of persons with a disability who dear to stand up and speak in the name of human rights.”

The filmmaker will be present in Nairobi during the opening of the monument on the 25th of March.  The monument will be placed at the junction in the gateway of the entire Kibera at 12.00 hr.

On this date the film will also hold its premiere in Kenia. The Kenyan press and the major media houses will be present during the launch.

Also policymakers, organizations and the main characters of the film are invited for the premiere. The premiere will ve hosted by VSO Jitolee, Liverpool VCT and Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR). The documentary will be launched at the Venue West Gate Theatre Westlands Nairobi. Time:20.00 hr.

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