The United Nations is backing a $100 million film fund aimed at combating stereotypes in movies.
The creation of the fund was announced Tuesday at the Alliance of Civilizations forum in Madrid in the presence of co-founder Queen Noor of Jordan.
Participant Prods., Summit Entertainment, ICM and YouTube are all believed to have signed on as partners to the fund, which has already secured investment of $10 million.
Summit Entertainment chief operating officer Bob Haywood confirmed they “would be associated with the fund in a distribution capacity.”
Summit execs were introduced to the fund by eBay founder Jeff Skoll’s Participant, which focuses on socially relevant, commercially viable fare.
British maven Richard Branson is on the board of advisers and has also pledged his support to the fund.
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“For a lifetime, it seems, I have agonized over the way stereotypes, reinforced by popular culture and the media, can set the emotional and political stage for policies that result in chronic misunderstanding,” said Queen Noor, the U.S.-born wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan. “Yet the media has the power to humanize as well as polarize.”
The Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund will support the production and distribution of films “that entertain as well as enlighten,” according to Queen Noor, and “will enhance the connections that already exist between different societies but are seldom noted onscreen and in popular culture.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates from 63 countries that he hoped the fund would help “counter ugly stereotypes in popular culture.”
There was no word yet on any projects greenlit through the fund, still believed to be in its formative stages.
The nonprofit fund’s initial focus will likely be on English-language features. “We hope that with the kind of content we get, the fund will be a self-sustaining entity,” said a fund manager who insisted on anonymity.
Fund managers are also hoping to announce a fund topper shortly.
The Alliance of Civilizations forum, which concluded Wednesday, announced a series of initiatives aimed at bridging cultural divides between East and West. The idea for the forum itself came in the wake of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, in which 191 people were killed.