Radcliffe Foundation and Vancouver International Film Festival create call to action for refugee crisis

Dec 09, 2016
In response to the refugee crisis, Lionsgate Entertaiment founder and Radcliffe Foundation president Frank Giustra took action. At a news conference at the Vancouver International Film Centre on September 7, he explained that the organization, which he founded in 1997, is developing solutions "to address some of the issues in what is really the biggest crisis of our generation". Giustra didn't mince words when it came to the inadequate response to the problems that arose. "What we’ve done is look at where the deficiencies are in terms of dealing with this crisis," he said. "This crisis is almost manmade in terms of the way it was mishandled, in my opinion, and I think what we are doing in looking at the solutions to some of the problems is addressing things that should've been addressed by governments and other multilateral organizations, and that has not happened in the way it should have." He identified several specific problems that his organization is addressing, such as the lack of a reception centre on Lesbos, where people are landing with nowhere to go. His foundation helped to build reception centre, and brought Vancouver search and rescue organizations to help train organizations there. They are also developing education initiatives, partnership, and employment opportunities for refugees. "It was really designed to show how simple some of these solutions are," he said. "We came up with the solutions just by looking at the problems, finding the right partners, and implementing them in a very entrepreneurial way." By working with Greek government in a private-public partnership, he said they were able to address the lack of housing by building a new residence that opened last month. Guistra was honoured at last year's Vancouver International Film Festival with the inaugural VIFF Screen Industry Builder Award, to recognize his contributions to B.C.'s film and TV industries. When VIFF executive director Jacqueline Dupuis learned about his work with the Radcliffe Foundation, she approached them with idea of using VIFF as a forum to create a "call to action". Consequently, the two organizations teamed up to create a PSA competition, which will reward the winning filmmakers with a $20,000 prize. The jury includes Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Sarah McLachlan, Atom Egoyan, and more. Out of 120 submissions, three finalists have been chosen. These final selections are available for the public to vote for from September 14 to 23 to choose the winner. The winner will be announced at opening gala on September 29. To view and vote for the PSAs, visit the competiton website.