REFIRING: Mitchele Mitchell & Nick Louvel, “The Uncondemned” (1/6)

12096341_868072906640092_2435155195542638530_nAs a lifelong media junkie, I despair at how much junk assaults us in the name of “news.” And ironically, the bigger the production budgets, the more likely it is that the content will skew superficial, the better to be “advertising-friendly.” So, in this cultural context of warped values and eroding commitment to the public’s need-to-know, Film at 11 is a standout source of quality journalism that is “responsibly rogue.” With enormous determination, they have achieved the seemingly impossible: self-financing hard-hitting award-winning documentaries on some of the biggest issues confronting global citizens today. Uncomfortable storylines with uncomfortable visuals that no one wants to talk about that are not remotely “advertising-friendly.” In “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” they dared to question where the millions of disaster relief funds are actually going. Their most recent production, “The Uncondemned,” recounts the first time when rape was successfully prosecuted as a war crime in 1997, a story that unfortunately remains all too timely and I predict will foment a turning point in pubic awareness and international law. It has already inspired grass-roots support from strangers around the world like I’ve never seen before. And we’re now allowed to reveal that the “The Uncondemned” has received the Hamptons International Film Festival 2015 Brizzolara Family Foundation Award for a Film on Conflict and Resolution.
I have known Film at 11’s Executive Producer Michele Mitchell since she was on CNN three-times daily as a political correspondent. She read from her first book at one of my downtown storytelling showcases (don’t ask me how she found the time to write!). Even those decades ago, her ambitions were always to delve deeper into meaningful stories. In Nick Louvel, she found a visual talent to complement her verbal talent; they were a co-directing team dynamic duo. They went on many shoots in dangerous places that often lacked infrastructure basics and when they came back to NY, they then endured many sleepless marathon film editing sessions. Given all they survived, it’s the most terrible tragedy that after dropping off their film for their world premiere screening on September 24th, Nick died in a car crash. 
So we dedicate this week’s Featured Creative series to Nick Louvel’s extraordinary legacy, which would have been impressive for anyone of any age, but is all the more so given his premature death at 34. Film at 11 will never be the same without him, but losing Louvel has redoubled their commitment to honoring his passion for their idealistic mission: that the world needs more powerful movies to be agents of positive change. Once you see any Film at 11 production–especially “The Uncondemned”–I am confident that you will be processing your discomfort by asking yourself, “How can I personally contribute to making the world a better place?” What better impact could anyone ever hope to have?
~Victoria C. Rowan, Ideasmyth Creatrix-in-Chief

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The Uncondemned: An Overview

The Uncondemned is a riveting documentary about the groundbreaking case that led to the first conviction of rape as a war crime. Rape has been considered a war crime since 1919, but it was never prosecuted.

This historic moment happened in 1997 during the prosecution of a small-town mayor named Jean-Paul Akayesu. Against the odds, a young group of mismatched underdog lawyers took on the first genocide case – and then, just before the prosecution rested, they halted the trial in order to include the first-ever charges of rape as a crime of genocide and crime against humanity. And that was made possible by three incredible Rwandan women who came forward amid a wave of witness assassinations.

© Film @ 11

© Film @ 11

Remarkably, the story of the Akayesu case has never before been told. Now, in a moment when the headlines are filled with stories of ISIS and Boko Haram using mass rape as a weapon of terror, The Uncondemned represents a turnaround moment. Because of Akayesu, rape has been successfully prosecuted as a form of genocide and as a crime against humanity. Because of Witness JJ, other survivors of sexual violence have a voice in jurisprudence. The story is one of courage and empowerment, and it transcends culture in giving hope and inspiration.

The Uncondemned firmly establishes rape as an act of power, humiliation and torture – and as a war crime that should be taken as seriously as any other.

The Uncondemned, produced by an independent, women-led documentary team, promises to be the most powerful tool yet in efforts to raise awareness and inspire action to end sexual violence in conflict. Watch the trailer below, and make sure you stop by the Hamptons Film Festival on October 3rd for a screening and panel discussion (featuring lawyers from the documentary)–and also to celebrate the film’s 2015 Brizzolara Family Foundation Award for a Film on Conflict and Resolution.

See more of Michele Mitchell’s Featured Creative posts on our Ideablog

2014-05-11 18.07.06~~~Michele Mitchell is the executive editor and co-founder at Film at Eleven, where she has been director/producer of Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” (OPB/PBS) and executive producer of “Reporting for Duty” (PBS). A Murrow award winning broadcast journalist known for her political investigative work, she is a former correspondent for “NOW with Bill Moyers” (PBS) and was the political anchor at CNN Headline News. She has reported extensively from most of the 50 states, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North Africa. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Michele started her career on Capitol Hill. She is the author of three books, including two regional bestselling novels, and currently writes the “Letter from New York” column for GQ Italia. She is on the board of advisors for the Authors Guild, BYKids and Water is Life. On Twitter as @MicheleFilmAt11

NickDRC~~~Nick Louvel directed his first independent feature “Domino One” before graduating from Harvard University in 2003. He went on to work as creative assistant to screenwriter Eric Warren Singer on Sony Pictures’ “The International.” His second directorial feature “Never Die,” a literary documentary, is currently in post-production. He directed short-form content for clients such as Chase Bank, Emotional Branding Alliance, Howcast and IFC FIlms. He was the editor of “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” and the editor and director of photography of “The Water War”. On Twitter as @NickLouvel

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