SPOTLIGHT: CAIRO 678 and The Carter Center

The Carter Center

The Carter Center

This month, The Carter Center will be screening CAIRO 678, from Global Lens 2013, at their “Winter Weekend” in San Diego—a four-day event featuring guests such as former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, and a town hall with former U.S. President and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter, and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

This is our first time working with the Center, and so we asked Ahna B. Machan, Senior Associate Director of Development, and organizer of the event, to discuss why this particular film was selected for the Winter Weekend, and how it fits with The Carter Center’s mission and vision:

Films like Cairo 678 can help bridge cross cultural experiences in human rights.  They have the power to tell a story in places where we cannot go, expose us to new ways of thinking, educate, galvanize and inspire support for human rights defenders. We chose to screen Cairo 678 at our annual Winter Weekend event for this reason, and because it resonates with the work of The Carter Center.

In fact, a commitment to human rights for all people around the world is a founding principle of The Carter Center.  As President Jimmy Carter says, “We work with victims of oppression and we give support to human rights heroes.”

Many of these heroes are like Noha Roushdy, an aspiring comedienne who became the first Egyptian woman to take a sexual harassment case to court and win in 2008 and on whom Cairo 678’s character Nelly is built.  Mohamed Diab’s film illustrates the perils courageous and effective activists face when basic human rights are ignored.  It also resonates with The Carter Center’s human rights work in Egypt, gender equity work with traditional women in post-conflict Liberia, gender access to information projects and our upcoming Human Rights Defender Forum in Cairo: The Role of Religion and Belief in the Advancement of Women’s Human Rights.

It can be challenging to effectively tell the story of the Center’s work to help build a country’s grassroots infrastructure.  It is thousands of miles away.   Our approach always is to amplify the messages and voices of our local partners who often endanger their lives as they seek to advance human rights in their country. And our objective always is to help citizens hold their governments accountable to their national laws and to international human rights standards.  Plus, the issues are complex and require insight into multiple perspectives for an effective understanding.

Thanks to the Global Film Initiative, we look forward to sharing the story of perils women face in their search for human rights and justice in Egypt.

- Ahna B. Machan, Senior Associate Director, Development and Seema Shams, Chief Development Officer, The Carter Center

cairo

A scene from CAIRO 678

As most people know, James “Jimmy” Carter served as the 39th President of the United States of America, from 1977-1981, and during the second year of his term, was instrumental in brokering a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel that is still in effect today (otherwise known as the Camp David Accords).  After his presidency, President Carter continued his role as a career diplomat, and in 1982 established The Carter Center—whose connection to Egypt extends beyond a diplomatic relationship into support for the nation’s overall stability and growth, including human rights (and as CAIRO 678 so poignantly demonstrates, the welfare of women).

The Global Film Initiative is of course excited to work with the Center, and present CAIRO 678 at the Winter Weekend.  As a film, it’s an unrivaled expression of artistic force and character, and demonstrates the diplomatic potential of art. More specifically, it shows how film can be a carrier for messages that inform us of the human condition–both good and bad—and inspire individuals and organizations, far from the streets of Cairo, to support the freedom of all people, in solidarity as a global community.

If you’d like to bring CAIRO 678 and other films from Global Lens to your theater or community, contact us via bookings@globalfilm.org or our website.  Also, take a moment to read about another Global Lens film, THE WHITE MEADOWS (recently released on DVD), that shares a similar socio-political perspective on human rights—but distinctly different artistic aesthetic—as CAIRO 678.

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