Client: Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
This hard-hitting viral film for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMD) recreates real-life hate crimes as scenes from a simulated computer game, appealing to the viewers emotions and urging them to “Stand Up to Hatred”.
The HMD is launching six episodes in the film series, which form part of a range of materials to support teachers, youth and community workers, local organisers in planning and running local activities.
One of the films recreates the Stephen Lawrence murder, finishing with a powerful appeal from his mother, Doreen Lawrence, explaining that “This isn’t a game. This actually happened to my son Stephen.”
The Stephen Lawrence film is particularly hard-hitting, as it puts viewers in the shoes of the teenager as he is fatally attacked waiting for a bus with his friend.
The film was created with the full blessing of Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence OBE, who concludes the film with a direct appeal to camera for us all to 'Stand up to Hatred'.
Her son’s story is followed by a graphic account of contemporary homophobia in which Lee Duncan faces his tormentor after 18 months of abuse, and calls on others to report such events immediately.
There is also an episode depicting a thought-provoking incident of Islamaphobia, that shows a disturbing incident of exclusion of a mother wearing a veil from a parents' evening in a Northern primary school. Anjum Anwar MBE, Dialogue Development Officer of Blackburn Cathedral, herself wearing a hijab, concludes with a powerfully inclusive HMD message from a Muslim perspective.
The contemporary stories are preceded by two scenes from the Holocaust and Nazi persecution. One of these depicts Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) when thousands of Synagogues and Jewish homes and businesses were destroyed and 30,000 Jewish men arrested.
The other is the moving story of Robert Wagemann, disabled and a Jehovah’s Witness, who was seven years old when his mother overhead doctors discussing their intention to ‘put him to sleep’. She managed to rescue him from one of many euthanasia ‘clinics’ which put to death over 200,000 disabled men, women and children during the Nazi campaign of hatred. Together they fled and the film concludes with a specially recorded voice-over testimony from Wagemann himself, now 71 and living in America.
Jack Gilbert, HMDT Trustee, said, “The issues addressed in these films are occurring every day across the UK and it is vitally important we begin to recognise the dangers that unchecked hatred presents to us. Everyday people in the UK stereotype, discriminate, exclude, bully, persecute and attack - because of race, religion, disability or sexuality.
“All acts of hatred involve making a choice, and for HMD09 we are urging people to choose to ‘Stand up to Hatred’ and help make our communities stronger and safer. By remembering the past and reflecting on the lessons learnt, we can better understand how to deal with issues that affect society today. We are releasing the video online and on DVD now to enable organisers to work on using it in the classroom and the community during the winter break.
Jonathan Brigden, producer at Knifedge, added, “These films aim to highlight the abhorrent nature of hatred, prejudice and discrimination in an interesting and unusual way. I hope they will encourage all who see them to stop and think about how we all need to 'Stand up to Hatred' in the future, and to commemorate those who have died or been persecuted in the past.”
The films are also being distributed to over a thousand organisers on DVD, with guidance notes. All materials are free of charge.
The films are also available on the HMD website and YouTube in the run up to Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2009.
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