Technology giveth and, as demonstrated Friday with the first – ever International Humanitarian Awards and Film Festival, it taketh away.
The festival, tied with in with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, honored producer-director Robert Wise, director Martin Scorsese, director Jim Sheridan and the late Audrey Hepburn, along with six films, for their contribution to world awareness of human rights issues.
Organizers used the Internet to link the Geneva, Switzerland-based dinner celebration with other ceremonies at Planet Hollywood restaurants in New York and Beverly Hills.
But problems setting up the high-speed phone line for the video feed left organizers scrambling until the last minute in Beverly Hills. Sound was also problematic through much of the ceremony.
That said, the event was lovely. Wise, 84, was honored for his 39 films, including “The Sound of Music” and “West Side Story.”
“I like what it stands for,” Wise said of the awards. “I’m touched to be honored by this.”
Wise said two of his best-known films probably come closest to the awards’ ideals.
“ ‘The Sound of Music’ seems to be so universally popular, “ Wise said. “ ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ has a message to the planet to stop all the madness with atomic weapons before we’re blown to bits.”
The festival also honored Hepburn for her films and her work as an ambassador for UNICEF.
Hepburn’s life says “you can give a message and make a difference through your roles,” said Polish born actress Beata Pozniak, herself active in international women’s issues and the presenter of Hepburn’s Award. Pozniak is best known for her role as Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife in “JFK.”
“I’m passionate about her,” Pozniak said of Hepburn. “I don’t know of any other actress who is such a role model.”
Both Sheridan and Scorsese, who were presented awards in New York for “The Boxer” and “Kundun,” respectively, gave brief speeches urging filmmakers to create more movies that show the human condition and make the world better.
Six other shorts, features and documentaries that were part of the film festival were also honored.
David Bloom, DAILY NEWS.