A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
A pioneering new film featuring thousands of Coldplay fans and others, including actor Dominic Cooper - star of Mamma Mia and Captain America - and rock band Wolf Gang, is being launched today to highlight the injustice of land grabs.
Over the last two months, thousands of people from 55 countries around the world have submitted nearly seven thousand videos and photographs to produce a crowd sourced video set to an acoustic version of Coldplay’s famous track In My Place which can be viewed at www.oxfam.org/inmyplacefilm.
The concept and film was created by award winning director Mat Whitecross to echo the dislocation and displacement thousands of families experience as a result of land grabs. The film shows people from Argentina to Indonesia moving something favorite, personal or familiar from their home to somewhere it doesn’t belong. Others show people doing something personal and familiar totally out of place, such as actor, Dominic Cooper, having a nap outside in the freezing city of Budapest and rock band Wolf Gang jamming in the street.
People, land, power
Every year governments and private investors buy huge plots of land in some of the poorest countries in the world. Often the people who live on the land, and rely on it to feed their families, do not have a say when is sold and do not receive compensation. Many are evicted violently and those that protest are often subject to intimidation and harassment. In the last decade an area eight times the size of the UK has been sold off globally.
Oxfam global ambassadors Coldplay say: "Not only are Coldplay fans very good looking but they’re also incredibly creative. We’re proud that they’ve dedicated their collective talent to this important cause.”
Mat Whitecross says: “Crowd-sourcing is a really exciting way to give creative power to the public. As a long-term supporter of Oxfam, I was keen to help and take on the challenge. I felt a huge responsibility to produce something that lived up to the commitment of the fans who had given their time and shared their voices to make real change. My parents were refugees so the issue of displacement, home and belonging are really important to me. I hope that the film helps bring the injustices caused by land grabs to a much wider audience. This is something we should all know about.”
World Bank's role
The film is being released in the week that the World Bank convenes its Annual Spring Meetings. The World Bank influences how land is bought and sold on a global scale. Oxfam’s GROW campaign has been calling for the World Bank to take action to prevent land grabs. The World Bank has recently acknowledged it has a role to play and has committed to do more to tackle the problem. Oxfam hopes the campaign video will inspire thousands of people to hold the Bank to account on these commitments.
Oxfam’s GROW campaign spokesperson, Hannah Stoddart said: “Thousands of Coldplay fans are adding their voices to an ever increasing and powerful global call for action to stop land grabs. The World Bank can help ensure that land deals do not leave poor communities without a place to live or grow food. They must act now.”
Notes to editors
The campaign video can be viewed at www.oxfam.org/inmyplacefilm
Rock band, Wolf Gang, who joined Coldplay on their Mylo Xyloto tour of the US last summer said: 'The space where we rehearse in London is round the corner from Gav's flat, so quite often before or afterwards we'll go to his to relax, make coffee and listen to records we like, it's a great space to just chill out for a bit. So we thought it would be fun to recreate that living room scene on the street outside, the rickety exercise bike is a new edition to Gav's collection and Lasse wanted to be riding it to keep warm, it was something like minus 2 outside when we filmed! 'We don't know what we would do without Gav's flat to hang out in. We need to stop land grabs.'
Coldplay have been among Oxfam's most high profile and vocal supporters of the last decade. Since 2003, they have used their worldwide success to help support Oxfam campaigning in over 50 countries.
In 2012 Oxfam were invited on Coldplay’s year long tour with their GROW campaign which aims to secure a future where everyone has enough to eat. During the year Oxfam worked alongside 1300 volunteers who helped gain the support of over 43,000 Coldplay fans and reach out to a further 121 million people online. Collectively, such a huge number of petition signatures resulted in campaigning wins in the UK and US, as Coldplay fans told US government to reform the food aid sent overseas and the UK government to support small scale farmers in order to lead the way in providing food for our future population.
Mat Whitecross biography: Mat, who is from Oxford in the UK, has directed music videos for Coldplay since his university days. His video ‘Paradise’ recently won the MTV VMA for best rock video and has 184 million views on Youtube. He has also directed videos for The Rolling Stones, Take That and Jay-Z.
After editing on ‘9 Songs’ and ‘Scott Walker: 30 Century Man’, Mat Whitecross co-directed ‘The Road to Guantanamo’ with Michael Winterbottom, winning the Silver Bear at Berlin for Best Director in 2006. In 2009, Whitecross directed with Winterbottom again on ‘The Shock Doctrine’, an adaptation of Naomi Klein’s book. The same year, he travelled to Thailand to film ‘Moving to Mars’, a documentary about Karen refugees fleeing from Burma to the UK, which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary in 2010.
Whitecross's next feature ‘Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll’ was released to critical acclaim, and nominated for Best Actor and Music at the 2010 BAFTAs. Starring Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris, Olivia Williams and Ray Winstone, it tells the surreal story of punk legend Ian Dury. His following film ‘Ashes’, a road movie thriller, starring Ray Winstone and Jim Sturgess is due release later this year. He has just completed ‘Spike Island’, a coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of the Stone Roses' era-defining gig of the same name. He is currently shooting 'Fleming', a drama for Sky Atlantic, starring Dominic Cooper as Ian Fleming.
Artwork for this project has been produced by Paris, a British-born artist, who has a unique painting style, incorporating elements of spray-paint, futurism and mark making, moving effortlessly between the far flung future, and our distant and turbulent past. Since the Spring of 2011, Paris has been an artist in residence for Coldplay, Initial sketching sessions with the band soon developed into the creation of large-scale artworks, forming the catalyst for three major projects in particular, all inspired by the history of wall painting and public graffiti.
Through close collaboration with the band and designers Tappin Gofton, Paris informed and inspired much of the artwork for Coldplay’s fifth studio album Mylo Xyloto (release date October 24 2011). Further to this, he and a select teal of fellow artists worked with Mat Whitecross and Pulse films to produce animated graffiti sequences for the “Every teardrop is a waterfall” video.
For more information, to arrange interviews with Mat Whitecross, the film’s director, or an Oxfam spokesperson or for to request images please contact: Anna Ratcliff at email@example.com or +447796993288
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Read the report: ‘Our Land, Our Lives’: Time out on the global land rush