Save the Children released research this week that claims ‘aid works’. This appears to be more than an exercise in accountability or impact assessment. This looks like the defense of aid in the face of a recession, negative press and a changing world. Part of the response from Save the Children is the video above. It is a film of two halves. Firstly, it gives us old school skeletal infant shots (and even chimes in with images from the Ethiopian famine of the 1980′s and a shot of the crowd at LiveAid from 1985, in case we’ve forgotten how we gave money in the past). Image after image of mainly poor children from the African continent. In the second half we get a up to date animation about how many lives UK aid could save in the next four years. The narrator tips his hat to economic investment and industry as drives to reduce poverty, but throughout we are given a rather retro vision of both Africa and development. We never see a bustling city. Modernity (except medical appliances and transportation bringing aid) is conspicuously absent. We don’t hear how several countries in Africa and Asia now have healthy economic growth rates and growing middle classes. Nor do we hear anything about what people in developing countries are doing themselves to reduce poverty. Not that Save the Children should be painting an overly rosy picture. Why would they if they feel under attack. But I can’t help feel that the video represents a broader failure of imagination in how we represent humanitarian assistance. The narrow picture presented tries to address what is perceived as ‘compassion fatigue’ (or at least the threat of a reduction in donations – whether that is due to a reduction in compassion or a growing conviction that aid is generally wasted is debatable). Halfway through we get a good dose of shock therapy, that all this good work could be undone ‘in the blink of an eye’. But the world has changed and I suspect few are now won over by such melodrama.
This video accompanies new research published by Amnesty International this week on the trafficking of Nepalese migrant worker for labour exploitation. The piece was shot by two Nepalese film makers to a brief myself and the AI researcher developed with them. Dinesh and Ramyata (who previously worked on Julie Bridgham’s ‘Sari Soldiers‘) of Sutra Films did a fantastic job.
The 10 minute film was produced as a visual summary of the report findings, with the voice of returnee migrants a prominent part throughout. This is supported by the inclusion of local experts. It was first screened at a press conference to launch AI’s research findings in Kathmandu on 13 December. The film was distributed to the local and international media. A Korean version has been prepared for screening in Seoul due to the increasing number of Nepalese migrating there. We also hope it will gain viewers in Malaysia and other major destinations for Nepalese migrant workers.
In the previous post we showed a publicity campaign which manipulates pictures. In this one, we show a video which reinterpret a classic film. Oxfam America, for its campaign on land grabs, decided to copy and at the same time, to modify a famous scene in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992).
Glengarry Glen Ross, adapted from a play by David Mamet, tells two days in the lives of four salesmen and how they become desperate when the corporate office sends a representative, Blake, to “motivate” them. Blake, among a series of verbal abuse on the men, announces that only the top two sellers will stay in the company and the rest of them will be fired.
Here is the scene:
Here is Oxfam America’s interpretation:
I imagine that the intention of the video was not only to create surprise on the audience through the script but also to make a link with the original film. In such a way, the message will be made more powerful through its references.
Does it work in this sense? I have some doubts. It is well filmed and staged and obviously it refers to a film which had an excellent casting (Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris and Alec Balwing among others) and which received good reviews. But, do you know the film? I did not. Do the receptors of the campaing know the film? Probably not, it seems that in America it did not have commercial success.
So, was it worthy to recreate the whole scene – and obviously invest the money- to refer to a film that probably very few people have seen? And if they do not make the connection to the original film, will they able to stand the shouting to get the message and to make sense of it?
(Many thanks to Shani Orgad for letting me know about these two videos)
Chiou Ho-shun, detained for over 23 years, is Taiwan’s longest-detained criminal defendant. His case is Taiwan’s longest-running, still ongoing criminal case, described recently by his lawyers as “a stain on our country’s legal [history].”
Chiou Ho-shun is on death row in Taiwan for a murder he likely didn’t commit. Chiou Ho-shun and his 11 co-defendants were tried in connection with two separate crimes that took place in 1987: the kidnapping of a nine-year-old boy Lu Cheng (陸正) and the murder of Ko Hung Yu-lan. Chiou was sentenced to death for robbery, kidnapping and murder in 1989. On appeal the Supreme Court sent the case back to the High Court eleven times, noting that physical abuse was used in his confession. Instead of discounting this evidence the court only excluded the parts of the tape where Chiou is heard being beaten. In 1994 two public prosecutors and two police officers involed in the investigation were convicted of extracting confessions through torture. Despite all this evidence the High Court upheld the conviction again in May 2011. Chiou’s response was, “I haven’t killed anyone. Why don’t judges have the courage to find me not guilty?” After over 20 years in prison he may now be executed at any time.