Christian award for Jewish filmmaker

October 29, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Gary Caganoff has been awarded a Human Rights Award by the World Association for Christian Communication and the World Catholic Association of Communications for his breath-taking documentary ‘The Garden at the End of the World’.

Filmmaker Gary Caganoff

Describing himself as a”video activist”, 45-yr-old  Caganoff joined Rosemary Morrow, his landlady in the New South Wales town of Katoomba on a journey to Afghanistan to record the devasting affect years of warfare have had on the country’s children. Morrow, a Quaker, is an expert in the field of permaculture which uses available resources to establish food chains within a given area using materials  available within its locale.

Featuring in the documentary is Sydney woman Mahboba Rawi, a Muslim woman and an Afghan refugee from the days of Russian occupation. Rawi has established orphanages in Afghanistan to alleviate the plight of thousands of children who lost their parents during the fighting and gives a weekly pesnsion to impoverished mothers using funds raised in Australia.

‘The Garden at the End of the World’ was a six-year project for Caganoff who describes himself as a Jewish Buddhist and who has been making films for over 20 years. He told J-Wire: “This film and the award are not about me. They are about the women and children who feature in it.”

The film was shot over a two month period in 2003.

Caganoff, whose family are members at Sydney’s North Shore Temple Emanuel, told J-Wire that he has had an interest in the outdoor life since his days in the scouts during which he spent a month living rough in the Tasmanian wilderness. He said that Morrow’s interest in using permaculture to help re-establish distressed communities had taken her to Ethiopia, Vietnam, South Africa, Laos, Cambodia and Bosnia.

He added: “Our mutual interests are based on humanitarian grounds only…and are devoid of politics.”  Speaking personally about his experiences in producing the film, Caganoff said: “They forced me  to face my contradictions and obliterated my belief systems. Seeing what happened in Kabul and witnessing the grief of the suffering, the devastation and the plight of the orphans coupled by the 10,000 lives lost,I felt it was like a mini Auschwitz.”

There is a scene in the film in which Rawi has secured usage of a building once used as a prison and torture centre as an orphanage for 2000 children. Caganoff filmed the walls of the cells on which the prisoners had sketched evidence of the terrible tortures they were enduring. The authorities sent painters to obliterate the evidence despite pleas from Morrow to let the walls stand testament to the horrors perpetrated in the building. Her pleas were in vain,but the evidence lives in Caganoff’s film.

J-Wire features a trailer of the film..

The DVD is available from Caganoff’s web site .

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