Filmmaker Without Borders

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Former network Producer/Editor turns Humanitarian Filmmaker. After years in network Television, Junius R. Hughes, forgoes the security of a steady paycheck to champion the rights of others. In his forthcoming film, Children of Fire, the Movie -- Hughes explores the devastation of township fires on the most innocent -- the Children.

Children of Fire Day America

Former network Producer/Editor turns Humanitarian Filmmaker. After years in network Television, Junius R. Hughes, forgoes the security of a steady paycheck to champion the rights of others. In his forthcoming film, Children of Fire, the Movie -- Hughes explores the devastation of township fires on the most innocent -- the Children.

Independent American Filmmaker Junius R. Hughes exposes one of South Africa's most tragic secrets: Township Fires. South African villages, like other developing countries, have been ravaged by fires that sweep through crowded shantytowns formed by flimsy, cardboard dwellings. The fires leave little but ashes and destroy tens of thousands of lives in their wake. The tragedy is these fires are preventable because most are started by the cheaply made kerosene (paraffin) stoves that can explode or tip over easily. Millions of families use the dangerous stoves for cooking and heating their "homes".

Once heralded in the "Who's Who" of Southern Africa, British born Bronwen Jones has become the unofficial patron saint of burn victims in South Africa. She runs the charity, "Children of Fire", from her Johannesburg office and school in the Guateng Province. In her plight to help burn survivors, she has endured death threats, negative press, and has single-handedly waged war against city councils. (courtesy of ESSA)

"When I read her story back in 2006 I was drawn in immediately, I knew that I wanted to tell the story of what she is doing for these children," says Hughes, "I don't have many but she is my hero." Hughes will bring on Emmy winner, Michael Booth to write the narration. Former 60 minutes Producer Harry Moses and current Media Professor Liam O'Brien have been on board as Executive Consultants and he's in discussion with world renown jazz musician, George Duke about using one of his recordings in the film.

Children of Fire will also feature comments from international experts, such as environmentalist Peter Knop, and respected figures such as Noble Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mr. Tutu is a strong advocate for programs to diminish the occurrence of deadly fires in the townships and for government assistance for the young victims.

For most Independent Films funding can also determine if a great film is made or not -- and if you add the fact that this story is international, Hughes finds himself as much a fundraiser as a filmmaker these days. The total cost of the film is $173,300. Hughes needs $45,000 more to complete the film.

"My goal right now is to find an investor or production company to come in to help with completion funds. I've spent two years on this project -- to have it fail is not an option." Hughes has not let the lack of funds slow him down. In fact, along with investors such as Jaguar Freight, of New York; he is promoting "Children of Fire Day America" in April 2008. The plans are to distribute "free" Children of Fire Day t-shirts to high schools and colleges nationwide with the hopes of getting the attention of investors and production companies and creating some buzz about the charity, the film and the website http://www.childrenoffirethemovie.com.

In June 2007 Hughes filmed the survivors of "Children of Fire" climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The expedition provided these burn survivors the opportunity to move away from their frustrations and feelings of alienation toward a physical goal that promoted trust, reliance upon one another, and self confidence. The climb left these children with a sense of self empowerment and a stream of hope that has given rise to their own voices. Although the climb was reserved for the older teens, all the children shared in the victory of the accomplishment.

Hughes recently returned to South Africa to meet and interview the Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the documentary. "When you think of the face of South Africa, the names that still immediately come to mind are Mandela and Tutu. I trust the Bishop's word will go far in promoting help for these children and more importantly a lifestyle change for South Africa's poor. Many people will be shocked to learn that Tutu himself was victim to a fire related injury as a child."

Children of Fire is a powerful story that will touch viewers on an emotional as well as intellectual level. From a humanitarian perspective, it is a story that reaches the core of society's responsibility to aid and help one another. These children, who want to be known as survivors rather than, victims, live basically reclusive lives. The children's stories are virtually untold and despite the efforts of the "Children of Fire," charity to educate the town's people, these tragedies still continue.

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Junius R. Hughes, Prod/Dir

Junius R. Hughes
Prod/Dir in South Africa
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