CHENNAI: Good afternoon. I am thrilled to be here with our valued partners from Aseema Trust to announce the start of a very special film festival honoring the memory and celebrating the ideals of slain journalist Daniel Pearl and his love of the arts.
Thank you to Devika and to Uma for their incredible work over the past months to organize an ambitious, thought-provoking festival showcasing the works of filmmakers around the world. We will all leave this festival with a better understanding of the physical and ethical challenges facing journalists and the media at large as they – you – tell the stories of the perpetrators and victims of violence.
We open this event in October as part of the Daniel Pearl Foundation’s efforts to celebrate the Daniel Pearl World Music Days, a month-long celebration each October and which this year focuses on the theme of “Harmony for Humanity.”
Behind the Lines/Between the Lines is an International Film festival which will take place in Chennai, Bangalore, and Trivandrum, bringing together filmmakers, journalists, and activists to share their experiences and to highlight their work in areas of the world where free speech and tolerance are not always respected.
The brutal killings of journalists, aid workers, and others in the last months have driven home the dangers faced by those who choose to go behind the lines to report, to help, and to tell the stories of those suffering in conflict zones. This film festival honors the memory of the hundreds of journalists and aid workers killed in the line of duty in the last year, including James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, and Alan Henning.
On May 17, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act to protect press freedom world-wide. This law directs the United States State Department to record how press freedom operates in conjunction with our human rights assessments, and to hold countries that facilitate press repression to world opinion.
In his greeting to all those celebrating the Daniel Pearl World Music Days this year, President Obama reminded us “We must never forget that we can create a more hopeful tomorrow when we define ourselves not by our differences, but by the humanity we hold in common. Around the world, passionate, thoughtful individuals are dedicated to what we can build together, rather than what can be destroyed.”
This festival is, indeed, Harmony for Humanity.
Thank you for coming today and I hope you enjoy the films, workshops, and discussions to come.