Award-winning film sends message of inspiration, hope

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The award-winning documentary “Give A Damn?” was presented in the Gemmell Multi-Purpose Room on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The University Activities Board Lecture Committee sponsored the film and a question and answer session.

The cast of “Give A Damn?” appears on stage in the Gemmell Multi-Purpose Room for a question and answer session after the showing of their documentary.
The cast of “Give A Damn?” appears on stage in the Gemmell Multi-Purpose Room for a question and answer session after the showing of their documentary.

This is the first event that UAB Lecture Chair Head Abbey Streich has planned in her new position.  “This is actually my first year as chair, but last year we had ‘The Buried Life,’ and that was kind of similar to this kind of idea like…you’re young…what can you do?” Streich said.
Streich, a sophomore at Clarion University, came across “Give A Damn?” on the Internet and began the process of bringing it to campus last October. The documentary was filmed over the course of five years and premiered in 2011.
“This documentary is about three guys. They set out on a mission to try to live in poverty on $1.25 a day to see what the experience would be like and see what people that have to live like that go through on a daily basis and feel the struggle and kind of try to relate to their story and those issues,” Streich said.
The three men are Dan Parris, Rob Lehr and David Peterka. They began in their hometown of St. Louis, MO and hitchhiked to Washington, D.C. After flying into London, they traveled across Europe and into African countries such as Kenya, Uganda and the Congo. The men interviewed American politicians, former professors, United Nations heads and African government officials about poverty in Third World countries.
“I watched the trailer, and I was just like, ‘This is awesome. I think this is something that people need to see.’ My committee and I, we kind of just like this kind of thing. It makes you think, it inspires you, and I love that kind of thing—the thing that makes you think about like, ‘I should do something bigger,’” Streich said.
The overall tone of the documentary is one of inspiration, hope and encouragement in the face of difficult times. At the beginning of their trip, the men visit a homeless shelter in St. Louis, and one of the walls bears the message, “When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose,” in graffiti. However, the trip takes a turn for the worst when a plane carrying Parris and Lehr crashes in Kenya. While the two injured men go home to seek American medical care, Peterka and his brother finish the journey in Africa.
Viewers walk away from the documentary asking themselves the film’s two questions: “What breaks your heart?” and “What makes you come alive?” Streich hopes students answer the call to action.
“I want people to be inspired and think, ‘What can I do to change myself and others?’”Streich said.
Parris, Lehr and Peterka appeared after the documentary to answer student questions. They recalled their craziest moments, times of regret and lessons learned.
“For me, what breaks my heart is young people without a purpose. What makes me come alive is making movies and making films, so this was a goal to put those two things together,” Parris said.
The trio travels to college campuses around the country to show their film and inspire students.
“[This is] the first time it’s been shown at Clarion. It’s been shown at other colleges and film festivals,” Streich said.
The documentary has won numerous awards, including Official Selection at the 2011 Heartland Film Festival, Official Selection at the 2012 Africa World Documentary Film Festival and Best Documentary at the 2011 Cinema St. Louis Filmmaker’s Showcase.
“Give A Damn?” has touched hearts around the world with its inherently human take on a global issue. As Lehr says at the end of his travels, “You need to find out what really matters, and I think it’s people.”
For more information on the UAB Lecture Committee, contact Streich at UAB Lecture meetings are Mondays at 8:30 p.m. in the upper Gemmell rotunda.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_facebook type=”standard”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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