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In two new films, Vanessa Redgrave shows her passion for human rights

© UNICEF/HQ07-0709/Markisz
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Redgrave stands next to a poster for her new HBO film ‘The Fever’.

By David Koch

NEW YORK, USA, 6 June 2007 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Redgrave took time out from her busy Broadway performance schedule this week to dedicate herself to two causes close to her heart: advocating for a better world for children, and human rights for all.

Ms. Redgrave, currently appearing in the play ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ based on the best-selling memoir by Joan Didion, attended a screening of her documentary tribute to UNICEF, ‘Wake Up World’, and the premiere of a new HBO film, ‘The Fever’.

© UNICEF2007/dkoch
Vanessa Redgrave and Carlo Nero at the Brooklyn screening of ‘Wake Up World’.

A tribute to UNICEF

To mark the 60th anniversary of UNICEF, Ms. Redgrave and her son, London filmmaker Carlo Nero, produced ‘Wake Up World’, which traces UNICEF’s illustrious history and celebrates six decades of progress for children.

The film is currently making the rounds on the film festival circuit, having been screened at the Prix Visionica in Wrocław, Poland and the Brooklyn International Film Festival in New York. It is soon to be shown at the Provincetown International Film Festival in Massachusetts. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts held a special screening of the film in London earlier this year.

Funded by RealNetworks as a donation to UNICEF, ‘Wake Up World’ can now also be screened in its entirety using RealPlayer (see the video links at right).

Having lived through World War II herself, Ms. Redgrave can very well empathize with those children in a destroyed Europe who received humanitarian assistance from the Allied powers, calling themselves ‘the United Nations’.

© UNICEF/HQ07-0714/Markisz
Franco Nero, Vanessa Redgrave, Carlo Nero, Jennifer Wiltse and Ethan Hawke at the premiere of ‘The Fever’.

“I would like the present generation of young people to know how important the United Nations is, how it works or how it's prevented from working … but how UNICEF always works,” she said. “And that's what makes UNICEF unique, because it can go in where no other agency can and it can negotiate for all children. And UNICEF is the most priceless, valuable heritage historically we have.”

Humanitarians honoured

‘The Fever’ is a new film based on a play by acclaimed writer and actor Wallace Shawn. Ms. Redgrave stars in the film, directed and co-written by Mr. Nero, as a nameless woman who is jarred from the ease and complacency of her London life by a visit – triggered by a series of random encounters – to a nameless eastern European country.

During her journey, the woman wakes up, ablaze with fever, in a decrepit hotel room. Her entire way of thinking about life has been profoundly changed by witnessing the violence and exploitation that surround her in a country where human rights abuses abound.

© UNICEF/HQ07-0711/Markisz
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam speaks about the importance of Ms. Redgrave’s work before the premiere of ‘The Fever’.

At the New York premiere of ‘The Fever’, Ms. Redgrave honoured a trio of humanitarian organizations: UNICEF, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Alex Fund. Each organization was presented with a framed photograph taken by Ms. Redgrave’s niece, as well as a personal donation.

‘Talent, energy and passion’

Actor Ethan Hawke accepted the honour on behalf of his mother, Leslie, who founded the Alex Fund to help marginalized people in Romania, especially Roma children. In accepting the donation on behalf of UNHCR, the refugee agency’s Director Pierre Bertrand said he was “deeply inspired” by Ms. Redgrave’s struggle for human rights. UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie also appears in the film.

In his acceptance, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul Gautam praised the “talent, energy and passion” Ms. Redgrave brings to her role as a Goodwill Ambassador.

‘The Fever’ premieres this month on HBO, a premium cable channel in the US known for its quality programming – and its long-time support of Vanessa Redgrave’s passion, onscreen and off.




Watch ‘Wake Up World: A Tribute to UNICEF’ in its entirety, courtesy of RealNetworks.
 VIDEO  high | low

Broadcasters: For information on obtaining free rights to air the film, please contact dkoch@unicef.org


December 2006:
Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Redgrave discusses her feelings about UNICEF’s work to help children worldwide.
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