Hollywood entertainment companies are backing a new multi-million dollar fund aimed at combating stereotypes in films, Jordan’s Queen Noor, a co-founder of the fund, announced Tuesday.
“For a lifetime it seems, I have agonised 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,” she said.
“Yet the media has the power to humanise, as well as polarise,” she told delegates on the first day of the Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Madrid.
To this end, she said the 100-million-dollar (67-million-euro) Alliance of Civilizations Media Fund would “support the production and distribution of films that entertain as well as enlighten.”
She said such films “will enhance the connections that already exist between different societies, but are seldom noted on screen and in popular culture.”
The fund has an initial investment of 10 million dollars, and has established partnerships with leaders in the entertainment and new media industries.
The partners include Participant Productions, the company behind the films “Syriana” and “An Inconvenient Truth”; International Creative Management, a Hollywood talent agency; Summit Entertainment, a Hollywood distributor; and the online media platform YouTube.
On the board of advisors is British entrepreneur Richard Branson, and a number of “global philanthopists” have also pledged their support.
“This is an exciting and impressive coalition, which I hope will grow in the coming months and years to include other partners from around the world,” said Queen Noor, the US-born wife of the late King Hussein of Jordan.
She lamented that children around the world “are internalising the biases they see on film, about people who look different, and pray differently.
“Yet it gives me hope that our efforts will help these children see all they share — their dreams, their hopes, their future.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier told delegates that the new fund would “counter ugly stereotypes in popular culture.”
Around 350 people from 63 countries are attending the UN forum, opened by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who proposed the initiative at the UN General Assembly in 2004.
He said the Forum aims to avert the “predicted clash of civilizations by promoting security, understanding, tolerance, and mutual respect in a globalised world.”