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Why Poverty? – TVO calls on Ontarians to join a global conversation on poverty beginning October 17

Toronto, Oct. 17, 2012 – Today, as the world observes the United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, TVO launches its multi-platform Why Poverty? campaign. Building on its commitment to inform and engage Ontarians on important issues, TVO investigates poverty both globally and locally through documentaries, short films, a dedicated website, in-community events and on social media platforms as part of a groundbreaking, worldwide initiative.

TVO is one of 70 broadcasters taking part in Why Poverty? The global campaign is expected to reach an audience of 500 million people and is designed to raise awareness about poverty issues, kick-start an international simultaneous debate and inspire new thinking for solutions.

“We’re extremely proud to partner in Why Poverty?” says Jane Jankovic, TVO’s commissioning editor. “As the only media organization in Ontario participating in this initiative, we have an important role to play in helping Ontarians understand the complex issues related to poverty. We’ve created an in-depth toolkit that analyzes the issues, explores solutions and provides a platform for discussion on poverty, both around the world and in our own backyard.”

Anchoring the international Why Poverty? campaign are eight feature documentaries which each take an unconventional look at poverty. Directed by world-renowned filmmakers including Academy-award winner Alex Gibney and Weijun Chen, the films, airing on TVO beginning Sunday November 25, tackle issues such as food security, education, gender equality, the conditions into which babies are born, global aid and the impact of disease and wars.

One of the documentaries is Give Us the Money, which questions the effectiveness of celebrity activism by rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono. TVO hosts a ticketed advance screening of this film in Toronto as part of the new TVO Doc Studio Screening Series on Wednesday November 21 (more details to be announced). Other feature documentaries include Solar Mamas, in which poor, uneducated middle-aged women are trained to build and install solar lighting in their third-world communities; and Alex Gibney’s Park Avenue, which looks at one of New York’s most famous addresses to explore the widening gap between rich and poor. (The complete lineup of films follows below.)

In the five-week lead-up to the November broadcasts, TVO gets the discussion started on Wednesday October 17with the launch of the tvo.org/whypoverty website, which offers a roadmap to understanding and finding possible solutions to poverty in Ontario. The site features info-graphics, quizzes and classroom tools. A different theme will be highlighted each week, including a big-picture look at poverty in Ontario and Canada; Aboriginal poverty; hunger; and working poverty.

Also on the site, visitors can watch a series of ten TVO-commissioned short films by Ontario filmmakers, which give voice to the unique stories, points of view and triumphs of people dealing with poverty. Highlights include How Can a Warm Man Understand a Cold Man, in which director Vac Verikaitis offers a moving account of his journey from globetrotting TV producer to surviving on $25 a day; and The Treasure, in which filmmaker Igor Malakhov uncovers what possession is most valuable to one homeless person in Toronto. (More information to come.) Alongside these made-in-Ontario short films, TVO will present ten international short films offering perspectives on poverty around the world.

To further engage the public, TVO extends its participation in Why Poverty? across other programs and platforms. The Agenda with Steve Paikin features poverty-related programs with Canadian senator Hugh Segal on guaranteed annual income (Thursday November 15 at 8 pm) and a debate on poverty and personal responsibility (Thursday November 22 at 8 pm). Hugh Segal will also be featured on Big Ideas (Saturday November 24 at 5 pm and online at tvo.org) along with other lectures offering views on how to end poverty. Allan Gregg in Conversation presents an online miniseries with leading thinkers on poverty issues, including African economist Dambisa Moyo. And the TVOParents.com team looks at the impact of poverty on educational outcomes, the role of race in poverty, and provides tips for parents on how to talk to kids about poverty in their communities.

TVO’s second annual Doc Studio Short Doc Contest (launching November 28) will call on aspiring filmmakers to give their perspective on poverty in a five-minute short film (details to be announced).

Kids can also get involved through the TVOKids’ Everybody Help Out campaign, which encourages Ontario kids to donate food items to local foodbanks, firehalls or YMCAs toward a goal of 250,000 donated items.

Join the debate now by following the hashtag #whypoverty, following the discussion locally and internationally on Twitter (@TVO and @askwhypoverty and liking Why Poverty? on Facebook.

The international Why Poverty? website, www.whypoverty.net, will offer additional short films, articles, info-graphics and opportunities to get involved in online debates.

Why Poverty? Feature Documentaries
November 25 – December 5

Give Us the Money – Sunday November 25 at 9 pm
Directed by Bosse Lindquist; produced by Momento Film
From Live Aid to Make Poverty History, Bob Geldof and Bono have been the most prominent voices advocating for the poor. But have their efforts really lifted millions out of poverty? Geldof, Bono and Bill Gates speak candidly about their years of lobbying the most influential leaders in the world.

Poor Us – Monday November 26 at 10 pm
Directed by Ben Lewis; produced by Submarine Pictures
Beginning in the Neolithic Age, this film chronicles the changing world of poverty through animated sequences illustrating how people have become poor throughout the ages to present day.

Solar Mamas – Wednesday November 28 at 9 pm
Directed by Mona Eldaief and Jehane Noujaim; produced by Plus Pictures
India’s Barefoot College takes uneducated, middle-aged women from poor communities all over the world and trains them to become solar engineers in order to create jobs in their communities. But one student finds that it will take more than just opportunity to get past poverty’s roadblocks.

Stealing Africa – Wednesday November 28 at 10 pm
Directed by Christoffer Guldbrandsen; produced by Guldbrandsen Film
The Swiss village of Ruschlikon has a low tax rate and very wealthy residents. But it receives more tax revenue than it can use, thanks largely in part to one resident: Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, whose copper mines in Zambia are not generating a large bounty tax revenue for Zambians. Zambia has the third largest copper reserves in the world, but 60% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day and 80% are unemployed.

Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream – Sunday December 2 at 9 pm
Directed by Alex Gibney; produced by Jigsaw Productions
740 Park Ave, New York City, is home to America’s wealthiest citizens, some of whom spend millions to lobby government for tax breaks. By contrast, the other Park Avenue is in South Bronx, where more than half the population needs food stamps and children are 20 times more likely to be killed.

Welcome to the World – Monday December 3 at 10 pm
Directed by Brian Hill; produced by Century Films
One hundred and thirty million babies are born each year. In Cambodia, babies are likely to be born to a family living on less than a dollar a day. In Sierra Leone, a baby’s chance of surviving the first year are half those of the worldwide average. This film takes a worldwide trip to meet the newest generation.

Education Education – Wednesday December 5 at 9 pm
Directed by Weijun Chen; produced by Steps International
China’s economic boom has created an expectation that education is an escape from poverty. But today, its higher education system has led to jobs for few, educating a new generation to unemployment and despair.

Land Rush – Wednesday December 5 at 10 pm
Directed by Hugo Berkeley and Osvalde Lewat; produced by Normal Life Pictures
Seventy-five percent of Mali’s population is farmers, but rich land-hungry nations like China and Saudi Arabia are leasing Mali’s land in order to turn large areas into agribusiness farms. For Malian peasants, these are unwelcome efforts and another manifestation of imperialism.

About TVO
TVO is Ontario’s public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. TVO’s vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and is a registered charity supported by sponsors and thousands of donors. For more information,visit tvo.org.

Media Contact:

Angela Garde
TVO Marketing and Communications
416.484.2600 x 2305
[email protected]

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