The Ghost People, a film co-directed by Martyna Wojciechowska and Marek Kłosowicz, was presented with the main award at the 55th annual Monte Carlo Television Film Festival.
Editor-in-chief of the Polish edition of National Geographic received the Golden Nymph Award during the official award ceremony.
"It’s amazing to be here and receive this award, because it gives me the possibility to speak about a crucially important issue on behalf of some of my film’s main characters – 17-year-old Kabula and albinos from Tanzania and East Africa. It’s hard to believe, but people are being hunted by other people there, in the 21st century. Albinos fear death every day. They are brutally attacked, their arms and legs are chopped off and sold for a high price on the black market. And they are killed only because somebody believes that potions and charms made from their bodies will bring happiness and prosperity. Since I had first heard about this problem I had to see it with my own eyes, and when I saw it I decided that I had to raise the awareness of the problem. This is what I am doing right now. Today is one of these days when I feel that what I do matters and that it may change the fate of some people", said Martyna Wojciechowska on receiving the award.
The Ghost People is a film about Tanzanian albinos. Tanzania is usually associated with Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, and the beaches of Zanzibar; however, in this popular tourist destination people still hunt people. The lives of those suffering from albinism are in danger from the day they are born. They are hunted like wild game for their limbs that, on the black market, are worth more than ivory, since Tanzanians believe that that potions and charms made from their bodies will bring them happiness and prosperity. Albino people are called zeru-zeru – the ghost people. It is believed that albinos do not die after death; they simply disappear.
The situation of the Tanzanian albinos was a cover issue of the May edition of National Geographic Poland. 17-year-old albino girl Kabula was on the cover, a symbol of albinos’ terrible fate in Tanzania and East Africa. Five years ago the attackers cut off the girl’s arm in her own home. Kabula was sent to Buhangija, a protected institution, home to over 300 albino children. High walls and barbed wire are the Tanzanian government’s only ideas to keep Albinos safe.
Martyna Wojciechowska’s first contact with the albino issue was in July 2014, while filming for her documentary series Woman at the End of the World (TVN Production). Kabula was the main character of one of the episodes. A decision was made to make a full 45-minute-long film that would cover the issue of albinism exclusively. Kabula’s story touched the hearts of the Polish audience: 100,000 złotys was raised to make Kabula’s biggest dream come true – she wants to become a lawyer to help the sick and destitute.
The Ghost People was awarded the Golden Nymph in the Best Current Affairs Documentary category, defeating nominees from all over the world: Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787 (Qatar), Do Not Touch Me (Belgium), Naked on the Net (Sweden), Super Exam Factory: a Living Hell (Hong Kong). This is Poland’s first success at the Monte Carlo Television Film Festival in 20 years.
The International Television Film Festival in Monte Carlo was created to support new arts and connect different cultures in 1961 in Monaco. The project quickly gained international attention. Currently, it is one of the most important and prestigious television-related events.
Source: press release, edit. by kk, 19.06.2015
Translated by Paweł Trzaskowski, 22 June 2015.