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Humanitarian action and cinema: ICRC films in the 1920s


A double DVD directed by Jean-Blaise Junod and co-produced by Memoriav and the ICRC is to be shown for the first time at Visions du Réel, the international documentary film festival taking place in Nyon from 18 to 24 April 2005.

Through the earliest films made by the ICRC, the DVD illustrates the birth of a new cinema genre dedicated to humanitarian aid.

The Nyon film festival, Visions du Réel, is to devote the evening of 20 April 2005 to the double DVD entitled Humanitarian action and cinema: ICRC films in the 1920s. A selection of early films accompanied by recent, explanatory documentaries will be shown, along with two ICRC films on prisoners of war made in 1942 and 1945. A round table will also be held, bringing together the producers of the DVD and film archive specialists.

Since 1995, Memoriav and the ICRC have been working together to save an endangered heritage, namely films made by the ICRC between 1921 and 1960 and preserved on nitrate-based film stock.  

For the 10th International Conference of the Red Cross held in Geneva in the spring of 1921, the ICRC sought to reaffirm its role in the post-war world by producing four films commissioned from its delegations in Narva and Stettin, Warsaw, Budapest and Constantinople, covering the repatriation of prisoners of war, the fight against epidemics, care for children and aid to refugees. This initiative was repeated in 1923 for the 11th International Conference.

The first DVD shows the film archives in their raw, unedited state. The second attempts to re-create, for the benefit of the public, cinema buffs and historians, the films produced by the ICRC in 1921, which have now disappeared. Each film is set in context by short documentaries in French and English.   


The double DVD Humanitarian action and cinema: ICRC films in the 1920s  may be ordered here.