Thursday, November 08, 2007

Holly and Landmines

As Holly gets its New York premiere tomorrow, MaryAnn Johanson interviews its leading man, Ron Livingston here. She recently reviewed the film as well. Click here for her review. To visit the official Holly film website, click here.

Pupils' landmine film to screen in London - by Gordon Rogers (Oxford Mail, UK)
A documentary made by pupils at Abingdon School about Cambodia's land-mine victims will have its premier at the National Film Theatre. Gravel and Stones will be shown on Friday, November 16. The 30-minute documentary focuses on the impact of disability on people in Cambodia. The country has one of the highest rates of disability in the developing world - more than 40,000 have lost limbs because of landmines. Four pupils from Abingdon School - Edward Hofman, Tom Wakeling, Andrew McGrath and Ben Hollins - filmed the documentary on an 18-day trip to the country last December. Ben said: "It was both chilling and wonderful. We saw for ourselves that behind its shocking past and difficult economic situation, the people can be warm, quick-witted and hard-working. "They accepted us, without prejudice, into their homes and told us their histories with honesty and candour. We all forged friendships that will not be easily forgotten." The project, which took three years to complete, promotes the work of Landmine Disability Support, a small UK non-governmental organisation.

It follows three people who are living with disability, poverty and discrimination. Kosal, a teenage polio victim, earns money by singing at the local market. Um Sopha is a 22-year-old woman, who lost both her legs to disease but dreams of becoming a dancer. Chiang Yin is a 50-year-old landmine victim who has learned to walk on his hands to make a living as a farmer.
The film was made under the guidance of documentary-maker and Abingdon alumnus Michael Grigsby. He said: "Gravel and Stones is a natural and ambitious extension of the work encouraged by the school's film unit. Students found a voice that is their own which gives space to - and engages with - people around them." The AFU, together with the pupils, parents, staff and Old Boys of the school raised money to send the team to Cambodia. They plan to enter the film in national and international film festivals across Europe.

Landmine Disability Support (LMDS) operate out of Kompong Chhnang in Cambodia and are an organization committed to facilitating and encouraging disabled people and their families to project “their own voice” and to enjoy the same means and opportunities generally available to other citizens. Greater equality and a fairer environment will allow many to work their way out of poverty and to play a full part in the community. Disabled people become automatic members of the LMDS organization and contribute to decision-making. The HQ is at Mong Baraing Paer Commune, Kampong Chhnang and contact details are: +855 (0) 26 988 907.

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