SEATTLE - There are a billion hungry people in the world. Fifteen thousand children-the equivalent of five times the victims of the World Trade Center bombings-die each day of hunger. Yet it doesn't have to be this way. We can end hunger-if we make a commitment to doing so. The new one-hour documentary Silent Killer: The Unfinished Campaign Against Hunger shows how it can be done. Shot on location in the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Rome, Mexico and Brazil, Silent Killer examines both the problem of hunger and solutions. The documentary and its companion Web site (www.SilentKillerFilm.org) will provide viewers with inspiration and information to become part of the effort to end hunger.
Produced by Hana Jindrova and John de Graaf (Affluenza, Escape from Affluenza), in association with KCTS/Seattle Public Television, Silent Killer will air on several California public television stations as follows:
KTEH/ San Jose: Sunday, October 16 at 5:00 p.m. (please confirm).
KOCE/ Huntington Beach: Sunday, October 23 at 4:00 p.m.
KQED/ San Francisco: Wednesday, November 2 at 11:00 p.m., repeating on
KQED Encore (Digital Channel 189), Thursday, November 3 at 10:00 p.m.
KVCR/ San Bernardino: Thanksgiving evening, Thursday, November 24 at 8 p.m.
KVIE/ Sacramento: Airdate and time to be announced.
KCSM/ San Mateo: Airdate and time to be announced.
(For all other stations, please check local listings).
Narrated by National Public Radio's Scott Simon, the film begins in South Africa's Kalahari Desert, where razor-thin Bushmen use the Hoodia cactus to fend off hunger. But now, a drug firm has patented the Hoodia's appetite-suppressant properties and is using it to make a diet product for obese Americans and Europeans. Hoodia is a metaphor for a world where some people die from too much food, but millions more die from too little.
We discover how serious the problem is in Kenya as we meet Jane Ininda, a scientist who is trying to make agriculture more productive in her country, while her own brother, Salesio, barely survives the drought, poor soils and pests that constantly threaten his crops. Through powerful stories, we come to understand the dimensions of the hunger crisis.
At the World Food Summit in Rome, we learn how activists have been working to end hunger since President John Kennedy declared war on it in 1963. But today, America's commitment to food security is less clear. In fact, world financial commitments to hunger research are now in decline.
But Silent Killer does not leave viewers feeling helpless. A visit to Brazil finds a nation energized by a new campaign called FOME ZERO-Zero Hunger. In the huge city of Belo Horizonte, we meet a remarkable leader and see how, under the programs she supervises, the right to food is guaranteed to all. In the countryside, we are introduced to the Landless Peasants' Movement, which is giving hope to millions of hungry Brazilians.
Can we end hunger, or will it always be with us? Why should we try? What will it take? What are we doing now? Can biotechnology play a role, and if so, how? Is hunger just a problem of distribution, or do we still need to produce more and better crops? These are the questions considered in this exquisitely photographed documentary.
EXPERTS featured in Silent Killer: The Unfinished Campaign Against Hunger and available for press interviews include:
David Beckmann - President, Bread for the World. Since 1991, Reverend David Beckmann has served as president of Bread for the World, a Christian group that lobbies the U.S. government for policy changes to end hunger in the United States and around the world.
Per Pinstrup-Andersen - World Food Prize Laureate 2001. A native of Denmark, Per Pinstrup-Andersen is the H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy at Cornell University. He also serves as the chairman of the Science Council of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
Chris Barrett - Development Economist, Cornell University. Dr. Barrett is a professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University. His focus is on rural communities, primarily in Africa, concentrating on the dynamics of poverty, food security and hunger.
Walter Falcon - Development Economist, Stanford University. Dr. Falcon is the Farnsworth Professor of International Agricultural Policy at Stanford University (emeritus), co-director of the Center for Environmental Science and Policy, and former director of the Stanford Institute for International Studies.
PROGRAM TIE-INS: October 16 is the 25th observance of World Food Day-a worldwide event designed to create awareness, understanding and year-round action to alleviate hunger. (See www.worldfooddayusa.org.) In addition, October 24 is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and its first agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
CREDITS: Silent Killer was produced by Hana Jindrova and John de Graaf in association with KCTS/Seattle Public Television and is narrated by NPR's Scott Simon. Writer: John de Graaf. Photographers/Editors: Diana Wilmar and David Fox. Composer: Michael Bade. Executive Producer: Enrique Cerna, KCTS. Funding was provided by The Rockefeller Foundation.
DISTRIBUTOR: Silent Killer is presented nationally by KCTS/Seattle Public Television and is distributed by the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA).
WEB SITE: See www.SilentKillerFilm.org for more information about the film, including a full transcript, in-depth interviews with film characters and experts on hunger, a guide for teachers, a list of hunger facts and myths, a detailed "Take Action" section and additional resources. Color images from the film are posted on the site for press use, along with an online press kit.