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Special Venue Media: The Humane Society of the United States Puts Animal Issues in the Frame at the 2009 SilverDocs Documentary Film Festival


International Filmmakers Compete for Animal Group’s $25, 000 Grant 
Believing in the power of filmmakers to make a difference, The Humane Society of the United States is once again partnering with the SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival to promote animal advocacy through its Animal Content in Entertainment (ACE) program’s $25, 000 feature documentary grant. The festival, held in Silver Spring, Md. runs from June 15-22, 2009.
This year’s five HSUS/ACE grant finalists will pitch their animal protection-themed projects to a panel of media professionals from PBS, Animal Planet, Participant and National Geographic. The finalists were selected from over 100 submissions from around the world.  The grant will be awarded to the documentary that succeeds in merging animal advocacy issues with a compelling narrative and has the greatest potential for broadcast or theatrical release. The winner will be announced at a reception on Wednesday, June 17, at the Cinema Lounge at 5.00 pm.
The five finalist projects are:
March Of The Elephants – One man’s heroic attempt to protect a migrating elephant herd in war-torn East Africa.
Base Camp Leakey – Returning to his native Indonesia, a young man embarks on a personal mission to save his cultural heritage and the endangered orangutan.
Cinema Chimp – A profile of Cheeta, “star” of film and TV, that explores the debate over the ethics of using non-human primate “actors” in the entertainment industry.
From Poaching to Plowshares – A look at how three remarkable people from different worlds joined forces to turn poachers into farmers and small business owners, and made animal protection a community priority.
Seal Wars – The epic, decades-long struggle between those who want to ban the hunting of Canadian harp seals and those who want it to continue.
“Now in its fourth year, the HSUS/ACE grant has gone from strength to strength, attracting an outstanding range of truly viable projects, many from award-winning  documentarians, ” says Ross Hammer, director of The HSUS’s ACE program. “Perhaps it says something about our undeniable impact on the animal world that today’s non-fiction filmmakers are finding protection and welfare considerations integral to their animal-themed stories.”
Among SILVERDOCS’ 2009 slate of diverse and intriguing feature length documentaries are three films spotlighting animal welfare topics: The Cove (dolphin slaughter), Cat Ladies (animal hoarding) and Mine (Hurricane Katrina).

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization—backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty—on the web at

AFI-Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival is an eight-day internationally recognized event that honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary to improve our understanding of the world.  Now in its seventh year, the festival runs June 15-22 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in the Washington, DC area.  The 2008 Festival featured 108 films from 63 countries presented to over 25, 000 attendees, including the influential audiences of the nation’s capital and media professionals from around the world. The concurrent five-day SILVERDOCS International Documentary Conference presents thought-provoking presentations and engages a diverse group of over 1, 000 filmmakers and industry leaders concerned with the future of non-fiction storytelling, production and distribution.  For more information, go to .


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