As co-founder and Trustee of International Coalition for Film Makers at Risk (ICFR), Mike has formalised and continued the work he started as a leading campaigner for the release of Ukrainian Film Maker Oleg Sentsov, imprisoned by the Russian FSB in Simferopol, Crimea in 2014.
Finally released in September 2019, Mr Downey campaigned relentlessly with EFA, PEN, Amnesty and artists like Ai Wei Wei and Pussy Riot, establishing a fund for his family and legal fees, and finally achieving his release after Sentsov’s 145-day hunger strike. The ICFR is a partnership between EFA, the International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Having worked as ‘amateurs’ learning on the job to get Sentsov freed, Downey, decided that given
there will be film makers at risk in the future, he should establish a professional organisation that can marshal its forces and act in a much more effective manner.
In setting up the coalition, Downey’s key goals with his partners are: to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk. The Coalition will respond to cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety or liberty of these filmmakers as a result of their work and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilizing the international film community. Activities include: advocacy, emergency funding, accessing support systems, monitoring and observatory. Mr Downey has
also been responsible for bringing in Dame Helen Mirren as the Patron of the ICFR.
To activate the film community’s collective response to cases of filmmakers facing severe risk, the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy have joined forces in establishing the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk.
With civil society in danger around the world, filmmakers are increasingly struggling to make their voices heard. Over the past few years, the world has seen a growing number of filmmakers being threatened, arrested, imprisoned and even killed in an attempt to silence them.
In these critical situations, the international film community could make a difference in supporting campaigns for the freedom of these filmmakers or pressuring authorities for their release. As the response of the film community has so far been deeply fragmentized, more co-ordinated action is needed.
The mission of the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk is to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk. The Coalition will respond to cases of persecution or threats to the personal safety of these filmmakers and will defend their right to continue their work, by mobilizing the international film community.
Activities will include:
- Accessing the support system
- Monitoring and observatory
The Coalition will closely collaborate with an international network of strategic partners:
- International film networks
- Affiliated NGOs
- International human rights networks
Official website of International Coalition for Film Makers at Risk