I must admit, I never really thought much of Ben Affleck’s acting abilities before he started directing and doing more thoughtful movies like Argo, The Town, State of Play and Gone, Baby, Gone. Prior to that, he was always that guy in Weird Al’s “I’ll Sue Ya” (“I sued Ben Affleck … aw, do I even need a reason?”).
But he’s really elevated himself in my mind over the past few years. Not only for his movies, but also for his humanitarian work. I like it when celebrities use their powers for good, like Affleck’s best bud Matt Damon and his work with water.org.
The Cinema for Peace Foundation announced a few days ago that Affleck, who founded the Eastern Congo Initiative, will be honored with the Cinema for Peace Humanitarian Award at the 2013 Gala for Humanity on Jan. 11, 2013 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles.
Each year since 2002, Cinema for Peace gives the Humanitarian Award to an individual and his or her organization “who has demonstrated the foresight, courage and leadership required to take a stand against extreme injustice, intolerance and inequalities,” according to the press release they sent me.
“More than 5 million people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996, making it the worst modern humanitarian crisis area in the world. Recently, the violence has escalated tenfold due to the rebel militia taking control of Goma, the economic center and capital. As a result, more than 230,000 families have been displaced in North and South Kivu – equivalent to the population of Hollywood and Santa Monica combined.”
“The Eastern Congo Initiative is the first U.S.-based advocacy and grant-making initiative wholly focused on working with and for the people of Eastern Congo,” said Jaka Bizilj, Founder of Cinema for Peace. “The Cinema for Peace Foundation is pleased to honor Ben Affleck for his courageous efforts to raise awareness about this terrible catastrophe and his brave stand against the injustices experienced by the Congolese. We are proud to support their work by providing desperately needed financial resources.”
The January gala will recognize 25 individuals and initiatives from the world of film in six categories: charitable giving, advocacy, protecting the environment and its people, Hurricane Sandy relief, as well as founders and partners of the organization. The Eastern Congo Initiative will be the beneficiary of Cinema for Peace’s highest honor, the Cinema for Peace Humanitarian Award.
Sponsors of the 2013 Gala for Humanity include Participant Media, Film Germany House AG, Salus Alpha and Francis Ford Coppola Wines.
This past year, Cinema for Peace has:
- Opposed war and genocide with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the annual Gala in Berlin and with the creation of the Genocide Film Library
- Supported the fight against climate change
- Hosted the official farewell to the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and welcomed his successor in The Hague
- Honored Muhammad Ali in London and organized his historic farewell at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games
- Served as an advisor to the UN Security Council and several governments and ministries around the globe, among other activities
The Cinema for Peace Foundation was created after the 9-11 attacks, and includes leaders in the film, politics, humanitarianism, media, business and philanthropy world who launched the global initiative to promote humanity through film.