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Lights, Camera, Development: The Millennium Goals Debut at Cannes

Renowned directors Jane Campion and Gaspar Noé have trained their lenses on a new cast of stars: The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Campion and Noé presented at the 59th Cannes Festival on May 2006 two short films, the first and second segments of “8,” an eight-part feature about the goals set forth by the UN to address the most pressing social, economic, health and environmental challenges of our time. The collaborative effort of eight world-class filmmakers, “8” is produced by LDM Productions in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and is set for wide release in early 2007.

The Millennium Development Goals—MDGs for short—set specific targets for fighting poverty, discrimination and disease and bolstering education, the environment and health. Established by UN member states in 2000, the Goals are to be met by 2015.

“The Millennium Development Goals catch the imagination of people because they make development real,” says UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervi?. “Development is about mothers not dying when they give birth, about children surviving their first years; about getting every child into primary school, making sure that people have access to clean water where they live.”

Campion, for one, is used to achieving lofty goals. The first-ever woman to win the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes--for “The Piano” in 1993, which also racked up three Oscars—the New Zealand native also won in her Cannes debut, with the short film ‘Peel’ in 1986. She won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1990 for “An Angel At My Table.” “In the Cut” (2003) was Campion’s most recent feature.

Directors were given carte blanche in addressing the specific Millennium Goal they chose. Campion’s 17-minute segment, shot in Australia, is titled “The Water Diary.”

Noé knows Cannes, too. His film “Irreversible” competed there in 2002, also appearing at Sundance in 2003. His first feature film, “I Stand Alone,” was screened at Critics’ Week in Cannes in 1998, and his third film, “Carne,” won the Critics’ Week prize in 1991.

The next filmmaker to shoot a segment for “8” will be Jan Kounen, director of the acclaimed documentary “Darshan,” which appeared in 2005 at Cannes. Born in the Netherlands, Kounen made his first feature film, “Dobermann,” in 1995 at the age of 31. Set to begin filming in June in the Peruvian Amazon, Kounen will take on the topic of maternal health.

The initiative
2.4 billion people do not have satisfactory sanitation facilities
United Nations Development Programme
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