ABOUT THE FILM
In March 2018, the UN reported that 10 million Yemenis were 'one step away from famine' and that hunger is threatening an entire generation. Borne out of a sense of urgency at the sustained civilian suffering caused by the human-caused famine in Yemen, we embeded with a team of doctors and nurses working at Therapeutic Feeding Centers (TFCs) treating those most at risk of starvation.
Filmed from inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, HUNGER WARD documents two women health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. The film provides an unflinching portrait of Dr. Aida Alsadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they try to save the lives of hunger-stricken children within a population on the brink of famine.
The film bears witness to the unfolding tragedy with a cinematic
eye - thus rendering horror watchable, and deepening empathy for our subjects and awareness of the significant civilian suffering
resulting from the current conflict.
I believe that the most compelling films often emerge from a deep and abiding belief that - simply put -
they must be done.
But is a passion to tell a compelling story and the craftsmanship to execute it enough? Five years ago, I decided it wasn’t. Despite a career of producing and directing documentary films that I felt were compelling statements on contemporary issues of our time, I came to believe they were not reaching a great enough audience nor activating sufficient change.
So I changed my approach to center on a single, core principle: empathy. I believe that if we can generate empathy for others it becomes exceedingly difficult to create barriers. I call this approach Humanitarian Cinema and focused my next two films on studying the global refugee and displaced persons crisis with a cinematic eye and rendering films capable of eliciting empathy for the burgeoning refugee and IDP (internally displaced person) community.
The first two films of this Humanitarian Cinema trilogy were 50 Feet from Syria and LIFEBOAT. HUNGER WARD is the third and is borne out of a sense of urgency at the sustained civilian suffering caused by the human-caused famine in Yemen.
The film documents the human cost of the on-going conflict in the country and will serve to catalyze debate surrounding a largely forgotten war.
We are striving to create a film that activates both the heart and the intellect while simultaneously laying bare American complicity in the current civilian deaths in Yemen. We believe bringing to an audience the specter of a human-caused, preventable famine made possible by American tax dollars will ultimately strengthen the call for legislative reform surrounding U.S. military assistance to the Middle East.
- Skye Fitzgerald
THE HUMANITARIAN TRILOGY
In 2015 our team produced 50 Feet from Syria – focused on the civilian impact of the Syrian conflict.
This was the first of a trilogy of films focused on one of the great humanitarian crises of our time – the plight of refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) in a global and interconnected world. We embraced a small-team, nimble production paradigm designed to prioritize intimate access from the heart of a crisis. 50 Feet from Syria was licensed by Netflix (US), Bell Media (Canada) Al Jazeera (15 countries throughout Europe and the Middle East) and numerous additional national broadcasts. The film was also shortlisted for an Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
The second film of the trilogy, LIFEBOAT bears witness to refugees and migrants desperate enough to risk their lives in rubber boats leaving Libya in the middle of the night, despite a high probability of drowning. LIFEBOAT puts a human face on the refugee crisis and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in a meaningful way. LIFEBOAT was subsequently licensed by The New Yorker (US), Bell Media (Canada) and Al Jazeera (Europe/Middle East). The film was also nominated for an Academy Award® and National Emmy®.
The third film of the trilogy is HUNGER WARD. Focused on the plight of starving and displaced civilians at the mercy of a forgotten war in Yemen, we utilize the same, nimble production paradigm to create an intimate, yet cinematic film intended to engender empathy for those most deeply impacted by the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. After HUNGER WARD’s release, we intend to release the Humanitarian Trilogy as a cohesive whole, comprising nearly two hours of total running time.
In a political environment increasingly hostile to immigrants and refugees, we believe documenting the real-life plight of those fleeing war and oppression is as essential and important as ever and a vital call-out to the conscience of the entire global community.
Skye Fitzgerald is currently directing a trilogy of films on the global refugee crisis. The first, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist. The second, LIFEBOAT documents Search and Rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. The third, HUNGER WARD, is in the final stages of post-production.
As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film BOMBHUNTERS and has worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Paul Robeson Fund and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for major clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, Discovery, Travel, History and Animal Planet.
Fitzgerald was recently inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work.
Fitzgerald is a member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Find Fitzgerald’s work at SpinFilm.org.
Michael Scheuerman’s initial work in the film industry was on the set of Havana, Sydney Pollack’s narrative on the Cuban revolution filmed in the Dominican Republic in 1990. Subsequently, he spent 25 years in the tech industry managing nearly 200 projects, most recently at Facebook.
With the recent convergence of the technology and film industries, combined with his passion for the art of film as a catalyst for social change, in 2018 Michael decided to partner with independent filmmakers on impactful film projects. He assisted with the promotion of Fitzgerald’s last film, Lifeboat and is currently the Producer for Hunger Ward. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Bend Film Festival.
Dan Sadowsky edited the two previous films in this series, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA and LIFEBOAT. He has practiced the craft of non-fiction narrative storytelling for a variety of media over the last two decades. Since 2013, he's been producing videos for inspiring campaigns and causes, and helping documentary film directors tell important stories that move audiences to action.
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Jeffrey Ball is a Director of Photography and Steadicam Operator based in Los Angeles, CA.
While his formal training was completed at Brooks Institute of Photography, his stylistic signature work with light and narrative has been carved through a diverse portfolio ranging from social development pieces in South America to documentary work throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Jeff was most recently Director of Photography for HUNGER WARD in Yemen, highlighting the ongoing civil war and widespread famine. He has spent two seasons onboard the FV Northwestern as a camera operator on the Deadliest Catch and received an Emmy nomination for his work. Currently operating in commercial, episodic and feature films, Jeff remains an ardent alpinist and rock-climber, having scaled the face of El Capitan in Yosemite and summited Toquiaraju (19,797ft) in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru.
Jeff is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (2011-2013, Ukraine), a passionate artist and speaks Russian and Spanish.
Since its inception, Vulcan Productions has leveraged platforms ranging from film and television to XR and other emerging media to produce and distribute content that informs, inspires, and activates audiences – putting stories to work with far-reaching impact campaigns that advance new policies, shift individual behaviors, and contribute to significant institutional change. The team will continue to tell great stories and empower audiences to take action on important issues until Vulcan Productions sunsets in early 2021. During this time of transition, Vulcan Productions will continue to support its partners on existing projects.
Spin Film is a documentary production company focused on bearing witness to unfolding tragedies with a cinematic eye. By rendering contemporary horrors watchable, we believe we can deepen empathy and understanding and ultimately marshal human and financial resources towards mitigating the pressing crises of our day. Spinfilm.org