An international body supporting global filmmakers facing severe risks in the field has officially launched at the Venice Film Festival.

The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) was formed by the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy. First announced in late 2019, the org held an official launch event at Venice’s Spazio Incontri on Sunday.

“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,” said the org in a statement.

“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 ICFR mobilized earlier this summer, co-signing an open letter calling for the immediate release of Egyptian film producer Moataz Abdelwahab, who was jailed after being accused of “partnering with a terrorist organization” and “spreading false news.”

Those on the ground in Venice included Marion Döring, director of the European Film Academy; Mike Downey, chairman of the European Film Academy; Vanja Kaludjercic, festival director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam; Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and Marjan van der Haar, managing director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

The group explained the ICFR’s ideas and activities, highlighting that its mission is to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk. Activities include advocacy; close collaboration with an international network of strategic partners; accessing a support system; and monitoring live cases.

“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,” said the org.

The Venice Film Festivals runs from Sept. 2-12. It is the first major international film event to take place in physical form amid the COVID-19 pandemic.