It was in 2003 whilst he was in Geneva promoting a film for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with Ronaldo and Zidane that Marc Obéron, a producer at LDM Productions in Paris, first heard about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The aim of these eight goals adopted by the UN in 2000 is to find solutions for environmental, sanitary and social challenges linked to development throughout the world by 2015. But whilst the campaign was presented to him as “the most important campaign the United Nations has undertaken since it was created”, Marc felt that this description did not quite ring true as the general public did not know much about it. “I asked myself how such an ambitious project could succeed if nobody was aware of it” he explains.
He and his associate Lissandra Haulica then decided to make a film about it and contacted several directors. “The idea was to give them carte blanche to choose somewhere in the world and to produce a short film on one of the goals. They were all very interested and showed solidarity and commitment to the project”. It didn’t take long for Jane Campion, Gaspard Noé and Wim Wenders to get on board. They were then joined by Gus Van Sant, Abderrahmane Sissako, Mira Nair, Gael Garcia Bernal and Jan Kounen.
However, despite this impressive list of world-famous directors, LDM Productions did not manage to get funding from the film industry. As the big distributors weren’t interested in the project, Marc et Lissandra then sought help from more institutional partners including the French Development Agency as well as many French and foreign ministries and private companies. However, the UNDP is not on “8”’s list of partners, “as conflicts of opinion arose over the films’ content” explains Marc Obéron. In the end, 95 % of the funds for “8” came from sources that were not cinema-related. It cost 4.5 million Euros to make, ever so slightly less than the average budget of a French film.
After five years of filming and editing, “8” was finally shown for the first time as the Rome International Film Festival opening film in 2008. In 2009, it was shown in over thirty countries and over a hundred festivals. It also won a prize at the Berlin Cinema for Peace Festival. As the film was shown and they met and talked to the public, Marc and Lissandra nevertheless felt that their work was not done. “To start with, we wanted to increase public awareness of the goals. But as time went on, we felt that people were really worried and truly wanted to take action. The feeling of having managed to alert people gave way to the frustration of not being able to offer them any solutions”. They then worked with Mégalo(s), a French advertising agency, to rework the way « 8 » was shown and give it a new lease of life.
And so on February 5, 2010, an Internet site was launched and now, each person can take action. It is called « No Time Left ». From this platform, one can watch the short films for free on YouTube, react by telling people about them and crucially, by financially supporting a project ran by an association. “We wanted to set up partnerships with NGOs so that concrete action would be taken in response to the Millennium Development Goals” explains Marc. Even if it is still a little early to assess how effective this initiative has been, the site got off to a good start as it received over two million visitors in February alone.