Last Wednesday, Politics on Film kicked off its third annual film festival with actress and activist Melissa Fitzgerald’s documentary “Staging Hope: Acts of Peace in Northern Uganda.”
“Staging Hope” documents a two-week theater program, run by a group of American actors, for 14 Ugandan youth from the Labuje IDP camp in northern Uganda. Through the intensive drama workshop, the Ugandan teens were able to tell their remarkable stories, teach their communities about important social issues such as peace building and HIV/AIDS, and begin to heal from the trauma of living for years with the Lord’s Resistance Army in their midst. Since the workshop in 2007, the Ugandan theater group has continued staging performances thanks to the support of Voices of Uganda, an organization founded by the actors and partners who led the theater workshop.
The film screening, which was also the world premiere, drew a diverse audience from students to members of Congress. Before the screening, Senator Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Fortenberry (R-NE) each spoke about their commitments to the violence in northern Uganda and the surrounding countries. Senator Casey offered his praise of the film, saying “with all of the horror and violence [in the region] it is great to have something on film that shows hope.”
Following the film, there was a panel discussion with representatives from the International Rescue Committee and the International Medical Corps as well as co-producers Katy Fox and Melissa Fitzgerald, and Enough’s John Prendergast, who served as executive producer of the film. The audience had a chance to hear about what they can do to help finally bring an end the LRA. In particular, the panelists encouraged everyone to sign the petition asking Congress to fund the implementation of the President’s LRA strategy.
To watch the trailer for “Staging Hope,” visit the Voices of Uganda website. Melissa Fitzgerald’s recent Huffington Post op-ed on her experience in Uganda is also worth a read.
Photo: Michael, one of the young men profiled in Melissa Fitzgerald's "Staging Hope" film