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Iranian Filmmaker Kiarostami To Film Orphans in an IFAD Project in Uganda

Press Release
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

April 18, 2000, Rome - The internationally renowned Iranian filmmaker, Abbas Kiarostami, has accepted an invitation by the United Nations agency, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to produce a documentary on the efforts of rural women in Uganda to save lives of orphans who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

This is the first time that Kiarostami will be making a film outside his home country, Iran. He will visit Uganda from 20 to 26 April, after a one day meeting at the Fund's headquarters in Rome.

Particularly sensitive to the cause of children rights as reflected throughout his film repertoire, Abbas Kiarostami has won not only the admiration of audiences and critics worldwide, but also the support of directors as distinguished as Jean-Luc Godard and Akira Kurosawa, who has said of Kiarostami's "extraordinary" films: "Words cannot describe my feelings about them and I simply advise you to see his films".

In Uganda, the tragedy of AIDS has left about 1.7 million children and teenagers without one or both parents. 10 000 rural women are working together to ensure that AIDS orphans are given a chance to lead a life of dignity. The "Uganda Women's Effort to Save Orphans" (UWESO), a national voluntary NGO, was founded by a group of Ugandan women in 1986. UWESO addresses the orphan problem and mobilises women volunteers in rural areas.

IFAD, through a grant provided by the Belgian Survival Fund, is assisting families that care for an estimated 36 000 orphans. The UWESO programme seeks to improve the socio-economic standing of foster families, giving them access to micro-credit services and training in health care, nutrition, water and sanitation.

However, the programme's impact on the overall problem of orphans in the country remains little. This situation requires a broader and intensified response, in order to sensitise the general public, their governments and mobilise more resources for this purpose. Director Kiarostami's work would undoubtedly be a major contribution to generate international support for the efforts of Ugandan women.

After visiting Uganda, Kiarostami will receive on April 30, this year's Akira Kurosawa Award, presented for lifetime achievement by the San Francisco International Film Festival. The Kurosawa Award is named after Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, who was the first recipient in 1986.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialised United Nations agency with a specific mandate to combat hunger and poverty by helping the rural poor in the poorest regions of the world. IFAD helps them increase their food production, raise their income and improve their health, nutrition and education standards. Between 1978 and 1999, IFAD committed over USD 6.5 billion in loans benefiting more than 250 million individuals. As of end 1999, IFAD financed 550 projects in 115 countries and provided 1337 grants for research and technical assistance. For every dollar of its own resources channelled to the poor, IFAD has mobilised USD 2.09 from other donors and host governments, for a total of USD 19.3 billion in project costs.


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