Fans Organize 'Global Sci-Fi Charity Event Of The Year'

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Fans of the science fiction movie 'Serenity' will be holding screenings in 51 cities in nine countries to raise money and awareness for Equality Now, an international women's rights advocacy group. In its second year, Can't Stop The Serenity looks to raise over $100,000 in donations for the charity.

For the second year, screenings of the science fiction film 'Serenity' will be held around the world in late June to raise money and awareness for an international women's rights advocacy group. The unprecedented effort marks the culmination of a year's work by fans to bring a writer's vision of equality to a mass audience.

Can't Stop The Serenity [CSTS] was conceived as a tribute to writer-director Joss Whedon on his birthday, June 23, by holding screenings of his 2005 film 'Serenity' wherever supporters were able to organize events. Proceeds from the events are donated to Equality Now, a charitable organization that Whedon's mother, Lee Stearns, helped launch. In 2006, there were events in 47 cities worldwide, raising over $65,000 for Equality Now.

Fans of 'Serenity,' and its television predecessor "Firefly," are fervent in their support of Whedon's works. That fervor helps drive the CSTS events forward.

"By their very nature, science fiction fans want to improve their world," said Devin Pike, global organizer of the 2007 CSTS events. "Whether it's Roddenberry's utopian view of eliminating poverty and prejudice in the next two centuries, or Whedon's saga of rebels rising up against tyranny, sci-fi fans are naturally compelled to try and make the world around them a better place. The Can't Stop The Serenity events allow that passion and drive to work towards bringing the issue of gender equality to the foreground."

Events are scheduled in fifty-one (51) cities in nine countries, meeting the first stated goal of the organization to hold screenings in over fifty cities. A full list of cities holding screening events can be found at CantStopTheSerenity.com. CSTS organizers have also stated a goal of raising over $100,000 USD for Equality Now with the 2007 events.

Founded in 1992, Equality Now aims to address the gender disparity in the human rights movement, which had grown to dismiss issues such as domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, and sex trafficking as "cultural" or "private." Whedon has been honored by Equality Now for his work on "strong female characters" in television and film.

While the CSTS effort is coordinated on a global scale, organizers in individual cities have been hard at work to make their events a unique, show-stopping experience for attendees:

  •      In Portland, the birthplace of the CSTS screenings, ten percent of the proceeds will go to the Women's Film Initiative (a project of Film Action Oregon)
  •      The events in North Carolina (Raleigh and Charlotte) will have production-used props and costumes from "Firefly" and 'Serenity' on display
  •      Frequent Whedon collaborator Jane Espenson will appear at a question-and-answer session preceding the Dallas/Fort Worth screening

"One of the wonderful things about the CSTS screenings is the flexibility organizers have in planning their events. They range from intimate gatherings to full-blown shindigs. The fan community in each participating city should give organizers medals for their creativity on a less-than-shoestring budget," Pike said.

To assist in making the events appeal to a broad audience, organizers turned to companies -- Universal Home Entertainment, Dark Horse Comics, Quantum Mechanix, and BenBella Books, among others -- to donate goods and services to be used as giveaways. The prizes made available to organizers as door prizes range from hand-knitted hats to a cabin for two on "The Browncoat Cruise," a 'Serenity'-themed cruise event held in December.

In addition, members of the online community MySpace, who are "friends" of the CSTS organization, are getting exclusive access to an auction of prints by artist Jo Chen in late May. Proceeds from the auctioned prints, which are signed by Chen, Joss Whedon, and actress Jewel Staite, will go to Equality Now.

"Being involved with Can't Stop The Serenity is amazing," Pike said. "It's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day details of planning the events, but when I step back and look at the scale of what we've accomplished in the last two years, it's phenomenal. I'm proud of the work we've done so far, and look forward to the future."

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