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ENVISION 2012: Stories for a Sustainable Future

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In its fourth year, Envision continued to welcome storytellers to the United Nations community through a day of events, which brought UN experts and NGOs together with some of the most creative minds in filmmaking and new media.  Leading up to Rio+20, this year's theme focused on developing a better global future with opportunity for all, building on three key issues: just and sustainable cities, clean water and green energy.  The conference, a unique partnership between the United Nations Creative Community Outreach Initiative, the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), and the Ford Foundation, was founded on the shared belief that storytelling and documentary film can be powerful tools in building a better future for all.

Below are some of this year's highlights:

For the archived stream of the event please visit:


A message to storytellers


"I'm asking the many gifted storytellers, like you, in our community to help us tell our stories.  Together I think we can help the world see and believe in a better future."
  -Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The CCOI partners with the creative community in order to achieve our mutual goals of promoting peace and raising awareness of critical global issues.


Secretary-General opens discussion on sexual exploitation following "The Whistleblower" film screening

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a panel discussion on sexual exploitation and abuse in conflict and post-conflict situations following a screening of “The Whistleblower,” Larysa Kondracki’s 2011 film about human trafficking and forced prostitution in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the late 1990s.

Ms. Kondracki, the film’s writer and director, joined senior United Nations officials in the panel discussion, which aimed at focusing attention on the Organization’s efforts to combat sexual exploitation of women and children in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Take a look at the list of panellists and the discussion through the United Nations webcast on demand.


Filmmakers Learn about UN’s Great Stories at Iberoamerican Creative Summit


The Iberoamerican Creative Summit, which took place in Aviles, Spain on
21 July 2011, introduced film and TV professionals from Spain, Portugal, and Latin America to the work of the
United Nations. In particular, the event underscored the range of drama, tragedy, and hope in the UN’s stories and explored ways filmmakers could work with CCOI to create films that make a difference.

The one-day panel event featured United Nations representatives, Goodwill Ambassadors, and distinguished Iberoamerican filmmakers, as well as a special video message from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Panellists discussed topics of particular significance to the region, including gender equality and empowerment of women, environmental sustainability, and combating drugs and crime and their effects. See programme.

The event was hosted by the Niemeyer Center on behalf of CCOI and was attended by more than 200 invited guests. It received extensive media coverage in Europe and Latin America, including
El Pais in Spain, El Tiempo in Colombia, and El Universal in Mexico.


MasterChef Australia Films Cooking Challenge at UNHQ


On 26 May 2011, the popular competitive cooking TV show MasterChef Australia filmed one of its third season challenges at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The show’s remaining seven amateur chefs catered a reception co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations and the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Each contestant prepared one dish, and the entries were judged by the 300 guests who attended the event, including Forum delegates and representatives of Member States.

The episode aired on 11 July on Network Ten in Australia with approximately 1.8 million viewers.


Envision 2011 spotlights poverty and hunger


UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte returned this year to open the third annual edition of Envision: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries, where he was joined by George McGovern, a UN World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassador.

The two-day forum kicked off on Friday, 8 April 2011 at The TimesCenter in New York City, with a screening of Sarah McCarthy’s The Sound of Mumbai: A Musical, an HBO Documentary Films presentation.

Envision combines film presentations with substantive, live-audience discussions on the pressing global issues with which they are concerned, and is a joint production between the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) and the United Nations Department of Public Information.

The 2011 edition put the spotlight on Millennium Development Goal #1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, with panellists and audience members gathered from the international filmmaking community, entrepreneurs, activists, journalists, economists, public policy makers, NGOs, and the general public.

Amongst the participants this year were former United States Senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern and Hugh Evans, Director of the Global Poverty Project.

The second day also included screenings of Lucy Walker’s Oscar-nominated film Waste Land, which follows Brazilian artist Vik Muniz from his home in Brooklyn to the world’s largest garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, as well as Phil Grabsky’s The Boy Mir: Ten Years in Afghanistan, which charts the journey of a charismatic boy from the age of eight to the cusp of adulthood at 18.

Check out the Envision Website for more info and download the Envision Programme.


Secretary-General mobilizes Hollywood at the
Global Creative Forum

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Los Angeles on 22 February 2011, to engage the creative community and explore ways in which the United Nations and the entertainment industry can join forces to raise awareness and mobilize the public around global issues.

Held at the Hammer Museum, the Global Creative Forum’s theme this year was "The Environment and Climate Change".  The Secretary-General opened the event in a one-on-one conversation with United  Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador Don Cheadle.

The day-long programme, moderated by former CNN anchor Larry King, included three panel discussions on various aspects of the theme.  Top film and television professionals and senior UN officials participated along with UN Messengers of Peace Charlize Theron and Wangari Maathai and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity Edward Norton. 

In its second year of existence, the Global Creative Forum is a project that supports the Millennium Development Goals by introducing leaders in the creative community to the work of the United Nations.


CCOI at the Producers Guild of America – East Coast Branch

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The Producers Guild of America (PGA) East hosted an event on 17 February 2011 in New York aimed at introducing its members to the work of the United Nations Creative Community Outreach Initiative (CCOI).

The event, in the form of a panel discussion and Q&A session, presented ways in which the CCOI can assist both film and documentary producers in the field as well as with access to UN locations, research, experts and archives.

The panel consisted of Lena Dissin, Deputy Director of UN Department of Public Information (DPI), Outreach Division, Susan Farkas, Chief of the UN Radio and Television Services and Producer/Director Alex Meillier, who offered a first-hand account of his successful partnership with the UN in directing his documentary film Alias Ruby Blade in Timor-Leste.


Writers Guild of America (West) hears the stories
of United Nations field staff


On 28 October 2010, scriptwriters from Hollywood’s film and television industries had a unique opportunity to meet with a handful of United Nations staff who are on the frontlines of tackling some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The Creative Community Outreach Initiative (CCOI) took part in an intimate forum hosted by the Writers Guild of America (West) in Los Angeles. Three United Nations field staff working in Haiti, Thailand and the Sudan came to share their experiences, offer insights into what the United Nations does in these regions, and engage in an open conversation with the WGA (West) membership.

The audience heard how the World Food Program (WFP) strives to improve the dire humanitarian conditions many in Haiti face in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that struck the country earlier in the year. They were also briefed on how in Darfur, the world body protects civilians, provides humanitarian aid and facilitates the political process through its peacekeeping operations. The UN role in combating human trafficking and child sex tourism in Thailand and the Organization’s efforts in rescuing and rehabilitating the victims was also discussed at the gathering.


Envision 2010 focuses on Education


UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte was the keynote speaker at Envision: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries, held at The TimesCenter in New York City on Saturday, 10 July 2010.

A partnership between the non-profit Independent Filmmaker Project and the United Nations Department of Public Information, Envision combines film presentations with substantive, live-audience (real and virtual) discussions on the pressing global issues with which they are concerned.

The annual event unites the international filmmaking community, entrepreneurs, activists, journalists, economists, public policy makers, NGOs, and the general public with representatives from the UN in the shared goal of envisioning a better world for all.

Spotlight Focus for Envision 2010 was Millennium Development Goal 2: Achieving universal primary education.

Check out the Envision Website for more info.

Download  Envision Programme.


CCOI at Produced By Conference


Juan Carlos Brandt, Chief, Advocacy and Special Events, DPI, represented CCOI at the Produced By Conference on 4 June 2010 in Los Angeles . 


He served as a panellist in the session, “Power of the Producer To Effect Change” sponsored by the United Nations Foundation. This special session highlighted the lifesaving work of the United Nations, and offered ways in which producers can help shine a spotlight on the world's toughest challenges.


The annual Produced By Conference, presented by the Producers Guild of America and hosted by 20th Century Fox Studios, brings together the entire producing profession. It represents a source of information and innovation unique in the entertainment industry.


For more information:


Secretary-General participates in Global Creative Forum


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Los Angeles from 28 February to 2 March 2010, to engage the creative community and explore ways in which the United Nations and the entertainment industry can join forces to raise awareness and mobilize the public around global issues.

On Monday, 1 March at the Hammer Museum, the Secretary-General opened the Global Creative Forum in a one-on-one conversation with UN Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas.

The overall theme for the day was "Empowering Women", why it is critical in overcoming global poverty, and how media and the arts can support this goal. The day-long programme included three panel discussions on various aspects of the theme. Senior UN officials participated along with top film and television professionals.

The Global Creative Forum is a project that supports the Millennium Development Goals by introducing leaders in the creative community to the work of the United Nations.


"The Flying Chef" films an episode at UN Headquarters


Israeli broadcaster Keshet TV filmed an episode of the cooking show “The Flying Chef” at UN Headquarters on 27 October 2009. During the current season, the host of “The Flying Chef” - celebrity chef, food critic and author Gil Hovav - travels to seven countries whose cuisines are represented in Israel, learning about local foods and finding the best dishes. In the final episode, UN delegates and staff taste the various dishes and vote on the best one.

The episode will air on Keshet (Channel 10) in Israel in the summer of 2010.



Premiere of "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure"


The world premiere of the Walt Disney animated film, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, was held at United Nations Headquarters on Sunday, 25 October 2009.

Prior to the screening, Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, designated Tinker Bell as “Honorary Ambassador of Green” to help promote environmental awareness among children. Among those attending the event were Tinker Bell Director Klay Hall, Producer Sean Lurie, and voice cast members Mae Whitman (Tinker Bell) and Raven Symoné (Iridessa).

This premiere event, hosted by DPI under the Creative Community Outreach Initiative aimed to promote environmental awareness in the lead-up to the Copenhagen conference on Climate Change in December. The United Nations is leading the Seal the Deal campaign to garner public support and encourage world leaders to sign an effective climate agreement when they meet in Copenhagen from 7 - 18 December 2009.

Read more .


"Ugly Betty" films at UN Headquarters


The cast and crew of the ABC TV comedy series Ugly Betty filmed scenes at United Nations Headquarters for its season premiere episode.

Scenes were filmed on the nights of 19 and 20 August 2009, in and near the ECOSOC Chamber, for a storyline featuring the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets   campaign. The fight against malaria is a priority issue for the United Nations.

The show’s main character, Betty Suarez, played by actress America Ferrera, in an effort to bring more substance to MODE, the fictional fashion magazine where she works, creates a fashion spread to highlight the use of bed nets for preventing malaria. Staging a magazine shoot in ECOSOC, Betty showcases models wearing fashionable forms of mosquito netting as a way of drawing attention to 
Nothing But Nets.



Envision 2009: Addressing Global Issues Through Documentaries


The first annual “Envision: Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries,” a forum jointly produced by the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) and the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) took place 14-15 May 2009 at the Directors Guild Theatre in New York City. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered opening remarks.

Envision combines film presentations with live-audience discussions on pressing global issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), bringing together the international filmmaking community, entrepreneurs, activists, journalists, public policy makers, and NGOs with United Nations experts. This year’s focus was on the MDGs and their impact on women.

“Envision provides an unparalleled opportunity for the international filmmaking and humanitarian communities to grapple with the issues of our time,” said Eric Falt, Director of the Outreach Division, Department of Public Information. “Looking through the lens of these important documentaries, issues like violence against women, extreme poverty, and armed conflict will come into sharp, urgent focus.”

Fashion model and activist Christy Turlington delivered the keynote address. In 2005, Ms. Turlington traveled with the humanitarian organization, CARE, to El Salvador. She visited a remote village where pregnant women and mothers of newborns now had access to clean water. She is also directing a documentary on maternal health in Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Guatemala.

The two-day programme included a spoken-word performance by Tony-Award winning playwright and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sarah Jones on Thursday afternoon. Her piece is based on the Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children (2006).

Friday morning featured a conversation with filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who in addition to his commercial work (Rachel Getting Married, The Silence of the Lambs) has made documentary films on Haiti.

Complete programme is available.


USC Celebrity Diplomacy Workshop


At the 21 April roundtable at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles, Eric Falt, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Public Information, United Nations, offered an insider’s perspective on the perks and pitfalls of celebrity diplomacy, from the point of view of the organization that pioneered the concept.

Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors programmes, which are a proven method of reaching untapped audiences, help to round out the United Nations’ portfolio of sophisticated public information projects. Yet to succeed in their goals of raising awareness and mobilizing support, these programmes require not only the utmost in care but also in critical assessment.

Download USC Celebrity Diplomacy Workshop speech.

Download Workshop Programme.


CCOI and SciFi Network present "Battlestar Galactica: A Retrospective"


Sci Fi celebrated Battlestar Galactica’s show finale at the United Nations, through a series of screenings and panel discussions. Through this one-of-a-kind event, the show’s stars and writers joined UN officials to debate themes the show and the organization have in common. Among the themes of importance to both the UN and the critically acclaimed television show were human rights, terrorism, children and armed conflict, and reconciliation and dialogue among civilizations and faiths.

The panel was moderated by Academy Award-winning actress and producer Whoopi Goldberg. Oscar-nominated actress Mary McDonnell, Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated actor Edward James Olmos, BSG creator and executive producer Ronald D. Moore, and BSG creator David Eick also participated in the panel.

Read more .


Episode of "Law & Order: SVU" filmed at United Nations Headquarters


Through its first official project, the Creative Community Outreach Initiative (CCOI) partnered with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” to film an episode at United Nations Headquarters. In March of this year, 200 cast and crew from the show came to the UN to film the episode Hell, which portrays themes related to children and armed conflict, as well as refugees. This collaboration marks the first occasion a network television show has been granted access to film at the UN.

Emmy-nominated actor Christopher Meloni (Detective Elliot Stabler) and Stephanie March (Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot) among other “Law and Order: SVU” cast and crew, joined UN staff during the production. Three emblematic areas were portrayed in the episode, including the Secretariat building, which would normally not be open to the public. The CCOI provided the on-location technical assistance necessary to facilitate the production at the UN.

This episode of “Law and Order: SVU” was featured in major news outlets, such as CNN, NBC, Newsday and the Huffington Post. The UN was also prominently mentioned in the Today Show interview with Alexandra Cabot. The episode aired on Tuesday, 31 March 2009 on NBC.