Station 18 Films

Through our STATION 18 Films division, we aims at entertainment that inspires social awareness; spotlighting good vs evil in society throughout history and engaging audiences to participate in positive social change.

SAND AND SORROW

A Station 18 Films, Patriot Pictures presentation of an Amahoro Collaborative production. (International sales: Velvet Octopus Film Sales, London.) Produced by Paul Freedman. Executive producers, George Clooney, Natalie Lum Freedman, Michael Mendelsohn. Co-producer, Aarti Sequeira. Directed, written, edited by Paul Freedman. With: Abdulrahman Al-Zuma, Elie Wiesel, Samantha Power, Gerard Prunier, Alex de Waal, Sabina Blay, Ahmed Ibrahim Diraigee, Ahmed Ali, Minni Minawi, Eric Reeves, Colince Ondoua, John Prendergast, Nicholas Kristof, Olivier Bercault, Leslie Lefkow, Mike Katukula, Riley MacDonald, Hannah MacDonald, Ken Silverstein, Barack Obama.Narrator: George Clooney.(English, Arabic dialogue)

By JAY WEISSBERG Perhaps it will take a Michael Moore to ignite appropriate public outrage over the genocide in Darfur, but until then, docu helmer Paul Freedman’s “Sand and Sorrow” will help fill the bill. Narrated and co-exec produced by George Clooney, the pic may not organize its information especially well, but with subject matter like this, structure seems less important than getting the message across. Combining interviews with campaigners, commentators and people on the ground, the docu seems best pitched for small screens and the kinds of school groups that have taken up Darfur as their cause. Freedman picked up the Inspiration Award at Monte Carlo’s new Intl. Emerging Talent Film Festival in May, a supportive nod to the film’s importance. It’s odd that it’s taken so long for someone to make a mainstream docu on Darfur, though, as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof points out, the news media, and TV in particular, have been scandalously quiet. The region’s problems began in 1956, when Sudan’s Arab population took the reins of power following independence. Exasperated by decades of institutionalized neglect and famine, black tribal leaders formed the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) in 2001 with the idea of finally fighting back. Once the SLA organized, Sudan closed the area’s borders, banned the press and unleashed its infamous militias, the janjaweed. What followed was the systematic destruction of villages throughout the region, with rape, mutilation and murder on a massive scale. The government continues to deny involvement, though documented attacks by Antonov fighter planes make it clear sorties are directed from the capital. In 2004, Kristof’s columns were the first to bring mainstream attention to the conflict, but little has been done so far, and the world inaction over Rwanda casts a pall over the current apathy. Freedman, whose docu “Rwanda: Do Scars Ever Fade?” won a Peabody award, is keen to place the Darfur displacement and slaughter in perspective with the Holocaust and other genocides of the late 20th century. As Elie Wiesel points out, “From knowledge to action, there’s an abyss.” Action is hampered not just by international disregard for a distant people, but by the particular realpolitik of the post-9/11 era. When the U.S. declared war on terror, the Sudanese government responded as an ally, bedding down with the CIA in ways that practically guaranteed America would avert its eyes from problems in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. So a population is murdered, 2 million people are displaced, and the world debates whether the term “genocide” really applies. Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power is particularly good at cutting through the rhetoric, explaining how the debate was merely a diversion from action. A small civilian peacekeeping force posted to the region is allowed merely to observe, not protect, reducing them to straightjacketed witnesses to the rampage. Pic could have devoted more screen time to one of these peacekeepers — a Ghanaian woman named Sabina Blay, who has organized a forum for rape victims at a refugee camp in Chad. Several times Freedman returns to Batavia High School in Illinois and the student activists dedicated to getting the world to take notice. Oddly, he’s ignored the evangelical denominations that have also championed the cause. “Sand and Sorrow” is punctuated with gruesome photos showing corpses horrifically disfigured and villages burned to the ground, meant to shock the viewer into action. As written, Clooney’s narration begins a bit portentously, but settles into an appropriately earnest explication of the situation, calibrating disbelief with a controlled sense of emotional indignation. Camera (color/B&W, DigiBeta-to-35mm), Alexandre Naufel; music, Jamie Dunlap; sound, John Bolen; associate producer, Carli Posner. Reviewed on DVD, Rome, June 6, 2007. (In Cannes Film Festival — market.)

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Inside North Korea

North Korea is a country with the toughest dictatorship where the masses are annihilated by hunger, poverty and tremendous underdevelopment. The Kim Jung IL’s communist regime is a combination of obsessive secrecy and classic isolation which, is arguably the most abusive regime on earth. Jung IL’s underpins his regime with poison gas and biological weapons, experiments on prisoners, kidnappings, slave labor and extortion. Jung IL’s new class of missiles, the Taepodong 3, allows a nuclear device to mount+ that missile that may reach as far as the West Coast of the United States of America. Jung IL’s exports chemical and biological weapons, nuclear technology, narcotics, human sex slaves, and counterfeit money around the world to ‘rouge terrorist states’ to assert himself as a serious threat to world events and nuclear proliferation. Jung IL’s true passion, other than nuclear weapons, expensive cigars and liquor, is Hollywood Films. Frustrated with the lack of film-markers in his native land, Jung IL arranged for film-makers to be kidnapped from Hong Kong and held captive in North Korea forced to make films for him.

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IRAN

Iran ranks second amongst the world’s top three holders of proven oil and natural gas reserves and Iran’s views on foreign policies, such as Israel, are disturbing to the rest of the world since the creation of a suspect nuclear program. Iran is known to be working on solid-fuel rocket engines for a ‘space launch vehicle’ which could mask for a long-range missile and nose cone that can carry a nuclear weapon. Intelligence sources claim Russian and Chinese engineers helped Iran produce a new conical warhead for the Shahab-3 which can carry a spherical nuclear device similar to the Hiroshima bomb. Iran’s current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said the program is for peaceful purposes and refused to end nuclear enrichment. Ahmadinejad stated that the Holocaust is a ‘myth’, insisted Israel must be ‘wiped off the map’, and uses the phrase Marg bar Esrailor “Death to Israel” as a regular mantra in prayers and political speeches in Iran. Ahmadinejad and Iran are critics of the Bush administration and supports strengthened relations with Russia and rouge countries such as Venezuela, Syria, and the Persian Gulf states, Is Ahmadinejad only a puppet figure with no real power? Is such a choice of a puppet by the Iranian theocracy cause for international fear? The supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and during the authorization ceremony of office, Ahmadinejad kissed Khamenei’s hand in demonstration of this loyalty to him, the Iranian Clerics and Mullahs.

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FROM SOVIET UNION WITH LOVE

Vladimir Putin, as president, lead Russia’s corrupt and poverty-stricken government out of crisis and into a thriving economical state. Through the power of oil, Putin turns off the spicket to Europe, for continuous leverage in world dominance. The majority of the Russia population pleaded Putin to stay in office for a third term, yet Putin declined, due to his upmost respect of the constitution and took the Prime Minister position. Some believe Putin’s KGB background explains everything, but his allegiance to the KGB is, in turn, explained by his intense nationalism in Russia. Putin’s tough treatment of rebel guerrillas in Chechnya could have ensured his popularity with the Russian people. The arrest of Russia media oligarch, Vladimir Gusinsky, on suspicion of property theft and tax evasion was not a move to destroy press freedom but to rein in the oligarch’s. It instilled the power that Putin wields over the country’s wealthiest oligarchs’ and in turn prompted cooperation to dump money into Russia’s financial system. The invasion of Georgia has provoked unprecedented levels of patriotism in Russia and increased world fears of Russia reassembling the USSR satellite states. A newspaper defied Putin by reporting that he was divorcing his wife of 24 years to marry an Olympic-gold medal winning rhythmic gymnast half his age, was immediately shut down, yet another sharp reminder of the perils of invoking Putin’s displeasure; as is death of ex-KGB officer and bitter critic of Putin after being exposed to toxic levels of Polonium-210.  

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Venezuela

President Chavez of Venezuela has implemented a series of radical measures of government to take over private businesses which would deal a series blow to the oligarchy and imperialism in Venezuela. Chavez ignites military expansion by recently purchasing $3 billion dollars’ worth of arms from Russia, including 53 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashinkov riffles, 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets, and two Russian UT-160 strategic long-range bombers. Chavez’s defiantly insists to purchase Russian submarines and an air defense system from Belarus, despite vocal objections from Washington. Furthermore, the Chavez regime’s frequent anti-Israel statements open support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. In collusion, with radical Islamic leader like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is Chavez a radical rebel rouser dictator or a visionary leader?

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SHOOT THE WOMEN FIRST

Women, as suicide bombers, are today’s weapon de jour. Historically, female terrorists acted as members of political and military organizations with reported participation in airplane Hijackings. The tactical need for some stealthier weapons allowed women act as ‘martyrs’. In present day, women drive bomb-laden vehicles, carrier bomber ‘bags’ and strapped massive explosives and metal implements on their bodies in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Chechnya, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia and Israel as ideal war tactics. Young girls are taught to assemble and dismantle their AK-47 assault rifles, women spend as much as 6 hours a day familiarizing themselves with explosives and theory about maiming those around them. Terrorist acts committed by women received almost double the publicity of the event in comparison to attacks committed by men. Women are required to be tougher than men to move up through the terrorist shell, their strategic value in the boiling cauldron are integral and tragic.

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