UN food agency hails Oscar nominations for supporters of its humanitarian cause
The World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the Academy Award nominations for the actors Djimon Hounsou and Penelope Cruz, who have recorded public service announcements and undertaken other work to champion the cause of the United Nations humanitarian agency.
Mr. Hounsou received a nomination as best supporting actor for his role in the film Blood Diamond, in which he portrays a father searching for his son during Sierra Leone’s civil war of the 1990s.
While shooting the film in Africa, Mr. Hounsou and his co-star Jennifer Connelly recorded an announcement for screening on television channels, websites and in cinemas around the world.
The actors ask the following question: “What is so powerful that it can make you overcome your greatest fear… turn your brother into an enemy… and leave wounds that scar long after the fighting is over? What is so potent, it passes effortlessly from mother to child… from generation to generation?”
Their answer: “Hunger – so deadly it kills 25,000 people a day.”
The film includes scenes depicting aid operations similar to those undertaken by the WFP as it fed thousands of war victims who fled either within Sierra Leone or to neighbouring countries in West Africa during the prolonged civil war.
Some of the photographs used in the film trailer are part of a WFP/Benetton campaign from 2003, Hunger, which featured photographs of war victims, including ex-combatants and amputees.
WFP communications director Neil Gallagher thanked Mr. Hounsou for “helping WFP to raise awareness about the millions of people who suffer every day from hunger caused by war and bloodshed.”
Ms. Cruz earned a best actress nomination for her performance in Volver, playing a mother trying to protect her teenage daughter.
In 2005 the Spaniard recorded a public service announcement and a corporate video for WFP, and she has also worked as a volunteer in Uganda and formed her own non-governmental organization (NGO) to help homeless girls and tuberculosis sufferers in India.
Mr. Gallagher praised Ms. Cruz for her efforts. “She is not only one of the best actresses in the world, [but] she shows her heart by always offering to help the weakest in the world: hungry women and children,” he said.