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The first ever refugee festival in Nagoya will take place on September 20th, 21st and 23rd in the Art Space A of Aichi Arts Center. The Refugee Film Festival in Nagoya (RFFN) is the brainchild of Sakae-based dentist Akira Mori and a group of other volunteers.

Japan today is largely unfamiliar with war and racial and religious persecution. The word refugee may thus not ring any alarm bells in most people’s ears. Yet over 10,000,000 people all over the world have fled their countries, either because of war, or fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Another estimated 25,000,000, though they remain within the same national boarders, have been displaced by war. They live as IDP’s (Internally Displaced People). The Darfur region of Sudan and the Gulu district of Northern Uganda come to mind. The world needs to wake up to the plight of these people much as to the needs of the victims of natural disasters like the recent cyclone and earthquake in Burma and China respectively.

Film festivals can be one way to draw the attention of many people to such issues of global concern as the refugee problem. For the past two years the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has held film festivals in Tokyo at such venues as L’Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo, Goethe-Institut Japan, Instituto Italiano di Cultura di Tokyo and the Embassy of Sweden. The third and most recent annual event took place from June 20th to 27th at five venues in Tokyo. Akira Mori, also an artist, had earlier met and acquainted himself with Mr. Kirill Konin of the UNHCR in Japan, who is also the Refugee Film Festival Artistic Director. He was inspired and took it upon himself to try and organize a festival back home in Nagoya. He knew he had to start from scratch though. The UNHCR would give support where possible, but the Refugee Film Festival 2008 Nagoya would entirely be the effort of Mori and the locals willing to support him. The first thing he had to do was to put together a team of volunteers, the first of its kind in Nagoya. There is now a team of 27 people, and the place and date for the festival have been decided.

The festival will open with a symposium on Saturday September 20th, and continue on Sunday 21st and Tuesday 23rd (a public holiday) with the screening of about 10 movies covering refugee activities in some countries.
“We want to target young people, especially college students,” Mori says, “in order to cultivate in them a sense of awareness and urgency about global issues, especially human conflict and suffering.” The speakers at the symposium will be Ms. Kaoru Nemoto from the Japan association for UNHCR, Prof. Hisae Nakanishi from Nagoya University, Mr. Hiroshi Kanda who is a lecturer at several universities and Ms. Maja Vodopivec who lived in Bosnia Herzegovina during the tempestuous period of racial conflict.

For more information contact: Mori at , phone 052‐952‐7509