The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), a non-profit organization that advocates, trains and collaborates with global partners to protect children from sexual abuse, exploitation and abduction, hosted a special screening of the 2017 Oscar-nominated film LION on January 30 in New York City. Following the screening, Academy Award nominated screenwriter Luke Davies, internationally renowned, contemporary artist Jeff Koons, a founding member and longtime ICMEC Board Member, and ICMEC President and CEO Ambassador Maura Harty, answered questions from the audience.
The screening was a kick-off event for ICMEC’s 2017 Gala for Child Protection: Because All Children Deserve a Safe Childhood, which will be held on Thursday, May 4 in New York City. The third annual gala will honor the 2017 Oscar-nominated film LION in recognition of its critical role in raising the global community’s awareness of the issue of missing children. Celebrated movie producer Harvey Weinstein, the co-founder of The Weinstein Company, which released LION, will accept the 2017 Champion for Children award in honor of the film.
“[The film LION] hit home, capturing both the tragedy of a missing child and the hope one always must have,” said Koons, after telling his personal story of his first wife abducting their only child, Ludwig, when he was two years old. Koons spent years trying to reunite with his son, which led to his involvement with the non-profit organization ICMEC. “In watching LION and spending this evening with you, I hope that you will gain an understanding of the vulnerability of children and the importance of ICMEC’s international efforts to make the world a safer place for children.”
LION, starring Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman and Oscar-nominated actor Dev Patel, is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley. At the age of five, Brierley was separated from his brother in a train station and ultimately was forced to survive on the streets of Calcutta before being adopted by an Australian family. Later, as a grown man, played by Patel, he used Google Earth to reunite with his biological family in India. LION is considered a leading contender for the 2017 Best Picture Oscar, and actors Patel and Kidman have both received Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominations this year as well.
“Sadly, many thousands of children go missing each year, defying our belief that every child deserves a safe childhood,” said Harty. “The story depicted in LION clearly portrays the need of the many hundreds of thousands of children around the world in a beautifully, powerful visual narrative. Lion has put the spotlight on this critical international crisis and conversation about missing children.”
Held at Tumblr, the screening was a private, invitation-only event.
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is a private 501(c)(3) non-governmental, nonprofit organization. For more than 16 years, ICMEC has been a leader in identifying gaps in the global community’s ability to protect children from abduction, sexual abuse and exploitation, and expertly assembling the people, resources and tools needed to fill those gaps. ICMEC focuses on programs that have an impact on addressing the issues surrounding missing children, child abduction, child sexual abuse and exploitation.
ABOUT THE 2017 GALA FOR CHILD PROTECTION
The 2017 Gala for Child Protection will be held on Thursday, May 4 at 6 p.m. at Gotham Hall in New York City. Proceeds from ICMEC’s 2017 fundraising gala will be directly invested in The Global Impact Fund. For ticket and sponsorship information, please visit the event website at gala.icmec.org.