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Do World Awareness Days Make a Difference?


World awareness days are often designated as a way to highlight important issues and commemorate historical tragedies, as well as encouraging people to pay attention to their health. This week marks a diverse range of awareness days, from thanking those who make sacrifices for others, to celebrating photography as an art form, and acknowledging the darker side of our shared history.


World Humanitarian Day (19 August)

The United Nations designated World Humanitarian Day on 19 August in memory of the 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Iraq which killed 22 people. 
Multi-award-winning documentary Enemies of the People depicts co-director Thet Sambath’s 10-year quest to find truth and closure in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. His quest is a personal one: he lost his own family in the Killing Fields and wants to discover how and why they died. Sambath’s work represents a watershed both in Cambodian historiography and in the country’s quest for closure on one of the world’s darkest episodes.


World Photography Day (19 August)

World Photography Day encourages people around the world to express themselves through the art of photography and spark discussions on the topic. The day is also marked in history as the day that the French government announced the invention of the daguerreotype, a photographic process developed by Louis Daguerre, on 19 August 1839.

Finding Vivian Maier is a touching portrait of Vivian Maier, a nanny who earned a posthumous reputation as one of the most insightful street photographers in America. Co-director and producer John Maloof purchased a box of her photo negatives at an auction, scanned the pictures and put them on the Internet, and soon articles and stories about the woman behind the photographs began to emerge. 


International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition: Battle for Britain’s Heroes (23 August)

On the night of 22 to 23 August 1791, Santo Domingo (known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic today) saw the beginning of an uprising that would be crucial to abolishing the transatlantic slave trade. This is commemorated on 23 August every year, a day which honours the memory of those who sparked a revolution to end slavery and those who were victims of it.
In A Moral Debt: The Legacy of Slavery in the USA, James Gannon, a descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, sets on a journey into uncovering the legacy of his slave-owning ancestors. He travels across America, questioning why people are so divided on the subject of Confederate monuments and whether the oppression of enslaved people by his ancestors still has an effect on black lives in the US today.


Directed by Dave Grohl, the longest-serving drummer for Nirvana and founder of Foo Fighters, Sound City tells the story of the famous recording studio in California. The film offers a peek into the world of jamming at the recording studio, combining interviews and archive footage of some of the biggest names in music, including Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash, Barry Manilow, and Stevie Nicks.

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