Last Saturday, October 24, Enough joined forces with the Hollywood Film Festival to host Ending Violence Against Women, the festival’s first ever human rights symposium. As I observed the packed house of enthusiastic spectators at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood, I couldn’t help but contemplate the enormous power of film and media when linked to a cause—in this case, the plight of eastern Congo.
We gathered to celebrate the winner of Come Clean 4 Congo, the video contest sponsored by Enough and YouTube’s Video for Change program (another first of its kind). The symposium began with a screening of the poignant, Emmy-nominated documentary, “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo” and was followed by a panel discussion examining the root causes of the conflict and epidemic of rape in the Congo, as well the practical ways we as consumers and American citizens can help end the violence. Enough’s Co-founder John Prendergast, actor and Congo activist Emile Hirsch, and Program Director for the Sub-Saharan Africa Global Fund for Women, Muadi Mukenge covered the crisis with depth and a diversity of insight. But the real star of the evening was Matthew Smith, whose winning video “Life Should Be Free” opens with this disquieting message:
“When you use your cell phone you activate the cries of a million children working through the night, mining the ore that turns to tin, and that’s exactly where this story begins.”
Following the panel, moderator Bonnie Abaunza introduced actress Sonya Walger and Steve Grove, head of News and Politics for YouTube, who presented the Come Clean 4 Congo award. Judging by the questions generated during the Q&A session and the number of guests who left the theater eager to take action, the message of Matthew’s winning video was heard loud and clear:
“It’s time we stop supporting the unethical exporting of tungsten, tantalum and tin. It’s time for death to lose, and life to win. So share what you know: WE ARE CONSUMING THE CONGO!”
To join the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign, text “CONGO” to ACTIV8 (228488) and visit www.raisehopeforcongo.org