September 26, 2016

Charlize Theron will be awarded the Honorary Chair of this year’s Cinema for Peace Gala

Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron will be awarded the Honorary Chair of this year’s Cinema for Peace Gala on February 9th at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Berlin.

The South African actress and United Nations Messenger of Peace is the founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), which calls for medical education and battles against the spread of HIV. Charlize Theron will receive the Cinema for Peace Honorary Award for her commitment against the spread of the disease among young South Africans. More than 300,000 people die each year of AIDS in South Africa alone; an estimated 5.6 million people are infected with HIV or AIDS in South Africa and 34 million worldwide.

“As a South African, Charlize Theron cares deeply about the human suffering of those infected, their families and friends due to HIV and AIDS. Every day thousands of people die of this disease. Charlize Theron’s Africa Outreach Project contributes tremendously in the concerned areas, helping to educate children and minors about HIV and AIDS as well as to support affected persons,” Cinema for Peace founder Jaka Bizilj explains and mentions that “since the FIFA World Cup and a premiere with Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu in 2010, the Cinema for Peace Foundation has been fighting AIDS by presenting cinema screenings of the movie ‘Themba’ to young people in rural areas.”

This year, Africa plays a major role in various program acts of the gala. Fatou Bensouda from Gambia, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, will present the “Cinema for Peace Justice Award.” This category features movies such as “Class Dismissed” with Malala Yousafzai, who barely survived an assassination attempt last October after having refused to accept the Taliban decision not to go to school anymore. Other nominations in this category are “Invisible Children – Kony 2012,” “The Act of Killing,” “The Central Park Five” and “No.” Inspired by the portrait of a campaign leader, who triggered off the fall of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet by using creativity and a 15 minute advertising film, and will tell the story of how one of the most brutal and notorious dictators of the 20th century has been removed by peaceful means.

The “International Human Rights Film Award” category, presented by Amnesty International, the Human Rights Film Network and the Cinema for Peace Foundation, will award the movie “Call Me Kuchu,” the late founder of Sexual Minorities Uganda David Kato, and the organization’s Executive Director, Frank Mugisha. “Call me Kuchu” is a moving documentary focusing on the social situation of Uganda’s homosexual population. David Kato, being the first one in the east African country to fight for the rights of homosexuals (“Kuchu” in native language), was brutally slain with a hammer in his house last year. Beninese-French singer and Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo (“Africa’s leading Diva” – Time Magazine) is leading the musical highlight.

There will be also a special signal against anti-Semitism at this year’s Gala following the attack in Berlin against Rabi Daniel Alter, who will join actress Veronica Ferres, civil rights activist Charlotte Knobloch und Holocaust survivor Marga Spiegel on stage. They will be awarded for their commitment against anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

Nominated for “Most Valuable Movie of the Year” are Michael Haneke’s “Amour“, Nicholas Jarecki’s “Arbitrage“, Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” and Kim Nguyen’s “War Witch,” as well as Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Ben Affleck’s “Argo”. Ben Affleck has already been awarded, alongside a Golden Globe, with the “Humanitarian Award“ for his courageous commitment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr. Aida Takla O’Reilly, President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,will hand over the award for Most Valuable Movie of the Year at the Gala in Berlin.

For “Most Valuable Documentary of Year” “5 Broken Cameras”, “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” “The Gatekeepers”, “How to Survive a Plague”, “The Law in These Parts”, “Searching for Sugar Man”, “Shadows of Liberty”, “Blood Brother“ and “Veto” have been nominated. “Beyond Pollution”, “Bitter Seeds”, “Switch“ and “Trashed“ are shortlisted for the “International Green Film Award” that had been introduced by President Gorbatschow and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2009. The award is dedicated to movies that focus on improving the environment.

Salus Alpha, with Oliver Prock, Point Rouge and the Waldorf Astoria Berlin, are the main sponsors of the event.

At the Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin, some of the most important ambassadors of the international film and media world with influential personalities from business, culture and politics will come together. This event is one of the leading film galas in the world, and is an established platform for films and activists to promote their societal engagements.

In the past twelve months, Cinema for Peace has promoted a series of important humanitarian themes. In Los Angeles 2012, Sean Penn, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio collected five million US dollars for Haiti. In 2013, Ben Affleck was awarded, in addition to the Golden Globe award, the “Humanitarian Award” for his workfor the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last year in Berlin, Angelina Jolie was honoured with the “Cinema for Peace Honorary Award for Opposing War and Genocide,” while Muhammad Ali received great praise for his fight for peace and humanity at the Sports for Peace Gala during the Olympic Games in London. Jaka Bizilj and his peace initiative also ensured that Ali participated at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, where he carried the Olympic flag in a procession for peace with ambassadors such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Daniel Barenboim.

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project

Preventing HIV infection among Africa’s youth is critical to the future of the continent. The youth of Africa are particularly vulnerable to HIV. Along with the normal pressures of adolescence, they face a number of challenges. These challenges are complex and include gender inequity, high crime rates, lack of cohesive family units, high incidence of rape and sexual misuse, misinformation or lack of information about HIV, chronic unemployment, lack of access to health services, and the stigma that surrounds the disease.

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project takes the lead from community-based organizations on the ground. The organization recognizes that they are the experts who understand the social and structural relationships of their communities better than anyone. By supporting these organizations through grant giving, networking, and spotlighting their work, The Africa Outreach Project serves as a vehicle for communities to enhance their ability to mobilize and empower themselves to prevent HIV.

The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project supports progressive community-based organizations that:

· Integrate, or are willing to integrate, innovative and engaging HIV preventive education and stigma reduction strategies into the services they already provide
· Empower African youth to keep themselves and their peers safe from HIV/AIDS as a significant part of their work
· Foster an atmosphere of continuous learning by keeping informed about the most effective approaches to preventing HIV/AIDS among youth and the changing needs of the their communities
· Develop supportive relationships with key stakeholders in their communities to strengthen the impact of their work

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Vitale Morum is our political and causes correspondent and reporter. He will be covering both national and international stories.

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