I've never had very good taste in movies.
I like chick flicks -- Pretty Woman, Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, I live for cheesy dance movies like Center Stage, and I absolutely adore coy capers a la Oceans 11. So it's always a bit of a struggle for me when a friend suggests renting or going to see one of those... intelligent films.
You know, the ones that are actually trying to say something, do something, or educate its viewers about something more important than How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
I want to jut my lower lip out in protest and say, "No, let's go see the one where Jake Gyllenhaal takes off his shirt instead. US Weekly says he worked out for four hours every day and ate nothing but broccoli to get in shape for it!"
Usually, however, I end up deferring to the friend -- too afraid to actually admit that I'd rather see Jake's naked bum than an artistic film about the depths and nuances of the human experience. Even if it is supposed to be the "best movie of the year" and it does feature a powerful performance by Kate Winslet who had to gain 65 pounds and wear a fake nose with a wart to play the character.
Warts and nuances are not my preferred form of escapism.
But every once in a while, I do get the urge to watch one of those meaningful films -- Munich, Babel, Hotel Rwanda -- and it does move me. It does make me think.
It does make me see the world and my place in it in a different way.
Hotel Rwanda, a film about one man's valiant attempt to save his fellow citizens from the Rwandan Genocide, was particularly stirring for me. Prior to watching the 2004 historical drama starring Don Cheadle, I didn't know much about the genocide that had occurred there. I remember feeling stunned that such a thing could happen in this modern age.
I remember feeling sick thinking, "We let this happen."
I remember wondering, "Why didn't anyone do anything to help?"
Even though 16 years have passed since the genocide, the situation in Rwanda is still far from rosy. According to Foundation Rwanda, a nonprofit organization founded by photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik and Jules Shell in 2007, an estimated 20,000 children were born as a result of sexual violence during the genocide. These children and their mothers have been marginalized by their communities and are living in extreme poverty. The mothers are unable to pay the secondary school fees to keep their children in school to receive the education crucial to breaking what will likely become an insidious cycle.
But Foundation Rwanda isn't just letting this happen.
They are doing something to help.
It is their mission to "improve the lives of these children by 1) providing funding for their secondary school education, 2) linking their mothers to income generating activities and psychological and medical services, and 3) raising awareness about the consequences of genocide and sexual violence through photography and new media."
Tomorrow night Foundation Rwanda will be joining forces with La Brea Bakery to raise those funds and garner that awareness at "An Evening of Food & Fotos LA" to be held at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills from 6 pm - 10 pm.
Guests of the event will be treated to signature dishes from some of LA's most prestigious restaurants and chefs, including Osteria & Pizzeria Mozza, AOC, Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry Cafe & Bakery, Jar, Malo/Mas Malo, Porta Via, Tinga, Susan Finegar's STREET, La Brea Bakery, the Gelato Bar, and The Lobsta Truck. Attendees will also be able to sip specialty drinks from 901 Silver Tequila, and enjoy offerings from Silverback Coffee of Rwanda, Beckmen Vineyards, Rosenthal The Malibu Estate/Surfrider Wines, Samuel Adams, and Smart Water, as well.
But the evening is not just about eating and drinking as much as is conceivably possible in four hours. It's an opportunity to learn about something more important than how Jake Gyllenhaal got into shape for Love and Other Drugs. There'll be an exhibition of portraits from Rwanda by Newsweek photographer and Foundation co-founder Jonathan Torgovnik, and a special film screening for VIP ticketholders. There will also be opportunities to donate to the cause through a live and silent auction.
Ticket information can be found here and below. Consider it admission to the most intelligent film of the year. I hear Suzanne Goin may even show up wearing a fake nose.
VIP Hour 6:00 - 7:00 pm
*VIP film screening at 6:20 pm w/ live auction of luxury food, entertainment and sports experiences at 8 pm. Includes vip access to cuisine, silent auction, champagne and exclusive gift bag
VIP Ticket: $350 *Sponsors 1 child for 1 year of school
General Admission 7:00 - 10:00 pm
General Ticket: $125.00 in advance *$150.00 when purchased at the door
The Paley Center for Media
465 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210