With journalism roaring its ugly head these days (Brian Williams, being the poster child for irresponsible reporting), it’s important to recognize those still doing groundbreaking, important work. New York City-based film company, Film at Eleven, was founded in the back room of Meli Melo restaurant, a Murray Hill restaurant that’s since shuttered, with the aim to tackle real issues, in a “responsibly rogue” fashion.
Former PBS and CNN HLM journalist Michele Mitchell and lawyer Ed Head met on a dirt round in the jungles of Nepal and hashed out their business plan first on a napkin in a hotel in Kathmandu, then in Meli Melo, where they stored their files in the wine cellar and wired up the dining room for WiFi. Filmmaker Nick Louvel and community-based development/disaster response expert Melinda Miles round out the company, which aims to build community around the issues the films address.
Film at Eleven’s first documentary, “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” won the Edward R. Murrow award for News Documentary in 2013. The second documentary, “The Uncondemned” looks at the groundbreaking trial in Rwanda where rape was first prosecuted as war crime in the first international tribunal since Nuremberg.
The backstory is even more impressive than the headline, with the understaffed International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) lacking funds and living with the daily threat of bombings and kidnappings. But in the race to become the first successful prosecution of rape as a war crime, the ICTR team would win–not just because of the disparate crew of prosecutors, activists, academics and criminal investigators who came together, but also because of a handful of women who, despite the brutality they experienced and the danger of reprisals, got on the first flight of their lives to have their day in court.
Film at Eleven has been doing a series of salons in New York City since last year, bringing together guest speakers like Melissa Jeltsen of The Huffington Post, dancer Ashley Munroe, award-winning reporter Tom Squitieri and Jocelyn Kelly, the Director of the Women in War Program at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, to discuss wide-ranging, relevant issues like criminal justice, the intersection of art and trauma, and women’s rights.
Despite this precedent setting trial, rape continues to be used as a tactic of war in conflicts around the world. The Film at Eleven team hopes to finish this important documentary through funding via Kickstarter, sending the message that there should be no impunity for war crime rape.