Scots charity film in the running for Oscar success

By agency reporter
November 4, 2012

A powerful new documentary film about the work of international charity Mary’s Meals is being launched at over 300 locations around the world on six continents, from living rooms to the big screen.

'Child 31', which had its British public premiere today (Sunday, 4 November 2012), has already been endorsed by high profile figures including Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and the newly appointed United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, and popular singer Annie Lennox.

The film is the latest project for award-winning Brooklyn-based production company, Grassroots Films, who visited the charity’s projects in Malawi, India and Kenya to see the life-changing work of Mary’s Meals in action.

Mary’s Meals feeds over 700,000 children a meal every school day in some of the world’s most impoverished regions where hunger and poverty can prevent them from getting an education.

Featuring stories about the work of the charity, Child 31 is a captivating watch that focuses on the difference just one meal every school day can make to children living in extreme poverty.

The film was unveiled to the UK public today by Gordon Brown at the 10th anniversary celebration of Mary’s Meals held at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, Scotland.

Further screenings will follow in other parts of the UK, and in many other locations around the world including Palm Beach in Florida, New York, Germany, Vienna, Ecuador, Malawi, Philippines, and as far afield as Australia.

Supporters have chosen venues which range from the comfort of their living rooms to schools, theatres, and cinemas, and the film is set to reach thousands of people around the world.

Child 31 has already won Best Documentary and Best Soundtrack at the Pan Pacific Film Festival in California and has been screened at the likes of a movie theatre in New York and the prestigious Warsaw Film Festival.

It is now hoped the film will be crowned with further success as it gets put forward for the most famous of film awards, the Oscars.

Child 31 – which has been entered in the Best Documentary Short category at the Academy Awards – tells the story of Mary’s Meals through the eyes of children like Lette who, at the age of 12, has the sole responsibility for looking after her family, and Muksi who lived on a rubbish dump alongside other orphans in Kenya before starting at a school where Mary’s Meals is served.

The film also features 12-year-old Charlie Doherty from Crawley, who has been raising money for Mary’s Meals since he was six. He made a surprise appearance at the Mary’s Meals anniversary event today.

Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, chief executive of Mary’s Meals, said: “Our launch event in Scotland is a première with a difference. It doesn’t have a red carpet and all the glitz and glamour of a normal movie première but it does have people joining us from all walks in life, who share a common goal.

“They, and others all over the world, are people who will not accept that any child in this world of plenty must endure a day without a meal. As a result of their good deeds, thousands of children, who would otherwise be hungry and working for their next meal, are instead sitting in a classroom with a full stomach, learning how to read and write.

“We hope Child 31 will bring the message of Mary’s Meals to new eyes, new ears and new hearts. It is my hope that Child 31 – this moving, inspiring and uplifting film - will act as another seed which will soon bear an abundance of fruit.”

Child 31 has already attracted praise from a number of celebrities and high profile figures.

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and the newly appointed United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, was moved by the film.

He said: “‘A hunger for knowledge’ is a phrase we all know, but it takes on a whole new meaning when we view the emotive and moving film Child 31. Mary’s Meals is feeding the hunger. Mary’s Meals is helping provide the knowledge.

“Ensuring every child has the opportunity to go to school and learn is a long-standing passion of mine. Education breaks the cycle of poverty and unlocks better health and job prospects.

“As I travel throughout the world on this mission as the UN Envoy for Global Education I don’t need a calling card, I will just leave a copy of Child 31 and show what can be done to encourage children into education.

“We should all be incredibly proud of what Magnus and all those involved with Mary’s Meals have achieved. Child 31 is a great testament to what can be done, what must be done and what hopefully will be done.”

Commenting on the film, Annie Lennox said: “Child 31 is a stunning film piece, highlighting the unimaginable challenges faced by children living in poverty today, and how the vision and ingenuity of Mary's Meals effectively responds to the challenges of hunger and education as a combined package, at a grassroots communal level.

“If one fact should resonate in our minds after viewing Child 31, it might be that the average cost of a lunch in the United States could feed a child in a developing country for an entire year.

“Mary's Meals feeds over half a million children every single day, encouraging them to attend school and receive an essential education at the same time. It’s not rocket science and it really works.”

Charlie Doherty, one of the stars of the Child 31 film, said: “The film was sad but at the same time gives hope for what can be done.

“It brings a lot of depth to what happens in some of the world’s poorest countries and the simplicity of the work that is done by Mary’s Meals which is helping to change the lives of so many children.”

* To view the movie trailer and for more information on the film, please visit


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