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The Millenium Documentary Film Festival will start its fourth run in Brussels, Belgium in 2 weeks. This year there are 21 filmmakers taking part in the competition, including 6 films from China.
Young people protesting alleged massive fraud in the presidential election in Iran. Scavenging through the waste outside of Beijing. Struggling against illness in Russia. And abject poverty in Honduras.
These are but a few of the poignant stories gracing the the screens at the upcoming 4th Millennium Documentary Film Festival.
But this is no ordinary film festival. It runs under the auspices of the United Nations and aims at raising awareness of the UN's 8 millennium development goals.
[Antonio Vigilante, President of the UN in Brussels]:
"They give a face to the numbers, to the statistics about poverty, about child mortality, about access to health and education. So I think, it is humanizing what they hear about development, cooperation and the need to assist people."
In the running for top honours at the festival are entries from 21 filmmakers from around the world.
Most focus on the challenges facing the youth in the modern world, and this year as many as 6 come from China.
[Lubomir Gueorguiev, President of Millenium Documentary Film Festival]:
"I think that because I was born in an totalitarian country, and I know that it's not easy to produce and realize films in China. People that do that have more motivation to do that".
The film entries from China cover different regions and tackle problems like poverty and pollution, which Chinese people face. Problems that are often glossed over in official news reports.
[Marie Arena, Senator of Belgium]:
"We have an image here in Europe coming from China that is sometimes only commercial. We have to know more about China and this is a way to know more about people living there."
Film production, like all media in China, is strictly controlled by the authorities. And that's why the festival organisers appreciate what it takes for independent documentaries to emerge from the country.
[Zlatina Rousseva, Art director of Millenium Documentary Film Festival]:
"Chinese documentaries today are not only film, not only art. It is a civil act, and we are supporting both: the quality and the courage of the directors. I think, it is very important."
Public screenings of the films begin on April 17th and will last for 3 weeks. Winners will then be announced.
NTD News, Brussels
Nico Bijnens/Wilfried Duchamps