‘Surviving the Peace: Angola’ Launch, A Great Event for a Worthy Cause

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The Mines Advisory Group launched a major fundraising initiative, Angola100K, last Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Goethe-Institut in Washington, D.C.

The initiative uses MAG and MediaStorm’s latest collaboration, Surviving the Peace: Angola, as a centerpiece to raise $100,000 for landmine education in Angola. As the editor and producer of the piece, I was honored to be part of the event (Unfortunately MediaStorm director of photography Rick Gershon was out on assignment and couldn’t make it to D.C. for the event).

MAG packed the house—a beautiful cinema that seats 90—with people from organizations that both confront issues surrounding landmine removal and are in a position to do something about the problem.

Representatives from the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, the Angolan Embassy, the U.S.-Angola Chamber of Commerce, The World Bank and Africare, among others, were in attendance.

After a passionate introduction from MAG executive director Jennifer Lachman, the lights went down and the piece began.

MAG executive director Jennifer Lachman making her opening remarks.

I’ve seen my work on the big screen and in front of a crowd on a few occasions, but it didn’t make this experience any less terrifying.

Everything about watching the film in this context is different. The theater is such a focused environment, it strips away the distracting periphery and locks the gaze of the viewer on the brightest thing in the room. It’s the purest way to watch a film.

That focus comes with a heightened sense of scrutiny. Sections that I was never fully happy with inspired a strong sense of self-loathing, while the experience of watching those sections I loved seemed all the more inspired.

This reminds me of the importance of reviewing your work in the company of others, because just the act of having them in the room makes you aware of the shortcomings and successes of a piece. It’s amazing the clarity all those eyes can provide.

The film ended, my level of anxiety went down, and Patricia Loria, MAG’s marketing manager, made an emotional plea to kick off their new campaign.

The donation flyer MAG handed out after the showing of Surviving the Peace: Angola.

The Angola100K campaign is raising $100,000 for MAG’s on-the-ground team of educators in Angola who teach people about the dangers of landmines. During a five month period, these Community Liaison Teams (CLTs) can educate up to 43,000 people.

This initiative reduces the risk of living in mine-affected areas and saves lives.

The marketing team distributed donation flyers for those who wished to give immediately. The use of the film to humanize the situation was crucial in MAG’s ask for donations.

“We used the film as the catalyst for the event and really as a way for people to experience what I experience when I visit the programs,” Patricia said about the film. “Hopefully this virtual visit will make them more passionate about the issue.”

Having worked with the stories of Minga, Dominga and Eron—the protagonists of the film—for several months, I came to care deeply for them and for their well-being. Seeing Patricia leverage the emotional content of the film to hopefully better the situation of thousands of Angolans made me proud to be involved in such a project.

Cinematographer Nathan Golon and producer Tim McLaughlin at the Washington, D.C. event.

The evening ended with a cocktail reception for attendees where I talked with a number of people about the film and was encouraged by what I heard. The group was full of people doing great work for a variety of NGOs and nonprofits. What I heard from several of them was that they needed a visual identity that was authentic to the people they were trying to help, something that was true to the situation they cared about, that could help them bring awareness to their causes.

Patricia summed up the event saying, “The evening did really exceed our expectations. We felt the level and interest of people were fantastic and that emotion would not have been possible without the film.”

I left feeling excited about how much work is out there for people willing to make powerful narratives for good people doing important work. Surviving the Peace: Angola and the Angola100K Campaign provide an example of what is possible when passionate people collaborate for a worthy cause.

I couldn’t be more proud of this effort to raise awareness and encourage real change where it is so desperately needed. I hope that you will also consider getting involved with MAG’s campaign. You can learn more and donate today at www.magamerica.org/angola100K.

After 30 years of civil war, the Angolan people live with daily reminders of conflict. Twelve million mines and vast amounts of unexploded ordnance litter the ground, making every step a potentially life-threatening decision.