Aid agencies asked to fund films on global issues

International development NGOs are considering a proposal from Guardian Films, the film unit of The Guardian and The Observer, that they could help fund it to make films about issues excluded from the mainstream news agenda, such as the crises in Somalia and Darfur.

NGOs including Christian Aid, Unicef, War on Want and Global Witness met last week to discuss a partnership with Guardian Films and journalists network the Frontline Club.

Sarah Wilson, a press officer at Christian Aid, said: "We will not help to fund any media production. The media should not be the beneficiary of charity.

"We're very happy to give our research and contacts. Very few broadcasters are willing to accept a film made by a charity, but we can give them access in return for exposure."

Paul Collins, a press officer at War on Want, said charities had to be careful to protect their partners. He said he would need full assurance that people would not be put in danger as a result of appearing on film.

Collins said he could see benefits to the scheme. "Africa is covered more on travel programmes now than in the news, so if this offers a real chance to increase coverage of the issues, it's a good thing," he said.

"We're not in a position to fund films ourselves, but we're happy to give our research and contacts if we can use the film for our own campaigning."

Maggie O'Kane, editorial director at Guardian Films, said that some funding for the films would be provided by the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian Media Group. "What NGOs contribute will be decided on a case-by-case basis," she said. "It could be knowledge and research, or it could be £1,000 towards the cost of the film."

O'Kane said issues such as those in Somalia and Darfur were ignored because Iraq, Afghanistan and the Olympics tended to dominate foreign news coverage.

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