Celebrities speak up for peace at Berlin awards

13th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 February 2006, BERLIN - Celebrities have a duty to speak up in the face of mistreatment of children around the world, said veteran actor Christopher Lee at a press conference for the Cinema for Peace charity gala Sunday in Berlin.

13 February 2006

BERLIN - Celebrities have a duty to speak up in the face of mistreatment of children around the world, said veteran actor Christopher Lee at a press conference for the Cinema for Peace charity gala Sunday in Berlin.

"The world today is in such a terrible mess, and the children are suffering so much that anyone who can help by talking about it should do so," said the 83-year-old actor, who has appeared in more than 200 films including the recent Lord of the Rings trilogy. "If you are well-known to the public, I think it's an obligation."

Lee is a leading supporter of the United Nations' children's charity UNICEF, one of the main beneficiaries of the Cinema for Peace charity gala. Other benefactors of this year's event are the American Foundation for AIDS Research and Hollywood actor Richard Gere's charity Healing the Divide.

The Cinema for Peace initiative was founded in 2002 by Jaka Bizilj and takes place every year during the Berlin Film Festival.

"We are very, very proud of what has happened in the past five years," he said.

Bizilj related a "very interesting conversation" he had had the previous day with actor-director George Clooney, whose film Good Night, And Good Luck will be shown as part of this year's gala.

"George told me that three years ago when he was in Cinema for Peace, he was called a traitor in America," Bizilj explained. "He actually decided to make Good Night, And Good Luck because he felt the situation was similar to (Senator Joe) McCarthy chasing communists in America in the '50s."

The film chronicles the conflict between journalist Edward R. Murrow and McCarty, the notorious communist-hunter who led abusive congressional investigations.

Michael Caton-Jones, the Scottish director of Hollywood films "Rob Roy" and "Basic Instinct 2", is another supporter of Cinema for Peace.

"I'm not a saint, that's for sure," he said. "I'm not even a humanitarian. I'm simply a human being who's lucky enough to make films."

Caton-Jones' film "Shooting Dogs" was presented later Sunday in a special screening as part of the Cinema for Peace programme.

The film stars British actors John Hurt and Hugh Dancy as a Roman Catholic priest and English teacher who get caught up in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

"The reason I wanted to make this film was I got a little angry about the fact that I was ignorant of what happened in Rwanda," Caton-Jones explained. "It was a way of working out my own dissatisfaction with what is done in my name around the world."

He said that working in Hollywood made the film possible, by giving him the financial freedom to pursue his own projects.

"To that extent, Basic Instinct 2 paid for me to make this film in Rwanda," he said.

In a reference to an infamous scene in the first Basic Instinct film, he added, "I guess in that way it was me who was opening my legs this time."

Another Cinema for Peace supporter is up and coming American actress Kristanna Loken, who starred in the 2003 film Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

She said that she "jumped at the opportunity" to be part of the initiative.

"I think as an artist you evoke feeling and change and through that you send a message," Loken said.

The Cinema for Peace gala will be held Monday evening in Berlin, hosted by Hollywood stars Milla Jovovich and Gere.

Sir Bob Geldof will present the Cinema for Peace selection and the first annual Cinema for Peace Award for Social Responsibility of an Artist will be awarded to Basic Instinct actress Sharon Stone.

As well as the proceeds from sales of the 660-euro (786-dollar) gala tickets, the three charities will also benefit from a fundraising auction.

Prizes this year include two tickets for the World Cup final and a piano lesson with star Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who will be performing at the gala event.

DPA

Subject: German news

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