Recent News

Nat Geo Photo Camp Greece

Editor’s note: The following was written by National Geographic Society’s Christian Garland, who recently spent a week at National Geographic Photo Camp in Greece. At Photo Camp, young people from underserved communities, including at-risk and refugee teens, learn how to use photography to tell their own stories, explore the world around them, and develop meaningful connections with others.

21CF’s National Geographic Partners gives 27% of all profits to funding National Geographic Society programs such as Photo Camp.


On Monday, May 22, 18 students from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and Greece entered the Photo Camp classroom with hopes of learning something new. On Monday, May 22, 18 students embarked on unchartered territory -- learning how to use photography to communicate their experiences, thoughts and stories with students who speak Farsi, Arabic, Greek and English. On Monday, May 22, 18 students changed my life. 

Salam. Yassas. Assalamu' alaikum. Hello.

As we each greeted each other on the first day, I sat in pure admiration of their curiosity and willingness to learn something new. As I looked around the classroom trying to understand each student’s story, I realized in that moment that we all wanted the same thing -- to understand what it means to be free.

“Finding freedom” quickly became the epicenter of Photo Camp Greece, guiding each of the students’ photography and writing assignments. Approaching each assignment with an unprecedented level of curiosity, we wanted to discover what it means to be free of the injustices that hold us back, free of the politics that define who we can and cannot love and free from the barriers that prevent us chasing our dreams. Cameras and notebooks in hand, the students spent several days and nights photographing refugee camps, refugee squats, their homes and the city of Athens to uncover how they define freedom and what freedom means to the natives and immigrants of Greece.

"I am so much closer to writing my own story." - Elias Abood, 25, Syria

Nat Geo Photo Camp Greece

If I learned one thing from our students, it’s that this is not National Geographic’s story to tell. This is their story and this is their experience. So while I could write a detailed summary about Photo Camp Greece, this is their story. We asked our students, what does freedom mean to you? Here’s what they had to say:

Eliza Gkritsi, 21, Greece 
Freedom is a choice; a real choice. [...] I’ve always felt free, independent. Freedom is to clearly see your situation, to evaluate it and to decide who and where you want to be. Then pick a path, not to be forced onto one. Freedom is to pick your own rules. 

Mojtaba Ganji, 24, Afghanistan 
Freedom has lot of meanings for different people. For me freedom is human rights, because I don’t think you can have freedom apart from human rights. Freedom means everything to me, because I left my family and I started on a hard journey to find my rights. 

Raouf Amen, 18, Palestine 
Freedom is the most important thing in my life. [...] Freedom can be defined as the ability of a person to make a decision, which is appropriate for him or her without interference or influence from any other party. Every human being has the right to freedom and autonomy.

Alexandra Panagiotou, 22, Greece 
Freedom is having a choice. It is a choice to be who you want, to travel where you want, to love who you want, to live your dream and to have a better future. [...] . People don’t do well in closed walls, we need to spread and fly.

Benjamin Dalton, 25, United Kingdom  
Freedom to me includes the choice to move. To move to and to move through the places I want to go and exist. The ability to navigate and occupy those spaces in a way that I feel comfortable and a way that I feel myself. Freedom is expression and expression is a movement, physical and social.

Radwan Dirar, 26, Iraq 
I think freedom is different for everyone. I don’t like the word freedom, because we don’t know how to use this in the Middle East. For me, freedom does not exist. I prefer to use, “free.” I say this because the word “free” can symbolize so many positive things in our lives, like the ability to love who you want freely. 

Apostolos Zaganiaris, 21, Greece
I think that freedom is totally personal. That leads to the question if the “personal” things are indeed personal or are projections of society on us. [...] I believe that someone can be free if they feel so, no matter what that means. I feel very close to freedom. I am mostly contained by myself.

Ehsan Sharifi, 29, Afghanistan  
I’ve asked many people about the meaning of freedom. For many years, I’ve been asking people this question. I’ve been told that freedom is a moment, it is the second that you smile. This is my opinion of freedom.

Nina Koutsogianni, 19, Greece 
In my point of view freedom is a powerful word with many different meanings. Freedom includes freedom of speech, of belief, of religion. Also, freedom is very connected with security. A person who doesn't feel safe cannot be free.

Shaghayegh Farhang, 24, Iran 
In my country where I’m from, men and women are not equal. I became a mountain climber because in the mountains I feel that I’m equal to a man. When I climb, I feel strength and hope. When I climb, I feel freedom. I came here to Greece because in Iran I couldn’t be free. 

Omid Ahmadi, 21, Afghanistan 
From my point of view, freedom is something that can pass all borders. The borders are the sea, water and air boundaries. [...] Freedom means to fly without barriers.  There are many countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria that have no freedoms.

Andronikos Koutroumpelis, 21, Greece  
I view freedom as the most basic human right. It means being able to define your own being however you wish. It means equal rights and equal opportunity.

Mehrdad Salabaty, 23, Afghanistan
When you have freedom you have a healthy mental state and you can do the best for yourself and for other people. You know it when you have freedom. We can feel the meaning of this sentence. We all are one.

Elias Abood, 25, Syria 
Freedom means safety, education and having a legal status. It means dignity, having a decent life, having a job. I risked to lose the most precious thing I have – my life – to get the freedom I have now [...].

Faramarz Ahmadi, 23, Afghanistan 
Freedom means everywhere is my home.

I came into this experience expecting to teach the students as much as I possibly could about photography and creative writing, but little did I know how much they would teach me. They taught me that no task is too big and we are never too small. They taught me to be grateful for every moment you have with the people you love, and they taught me that friendship knows no boundaries. Although we no longer see each other every day, our stories will always keep us together. As we continue this search to define freedom, what could be more powerful than that?


Eric Price, Joe Hall, Christian Slater, Courteney Monroe, Evan Shapiro, and Katherine Oliver

(l-r) Eric Price, Joe Hall, Christian Slater, Courteney Monroe, Evan Shapiro, and Katherine Oliver

High school students from long-time 21st Century Fox nonprofit partner, Ghetto Film School, had the unique opportunity to hear their short film scripts read by Hollywood talent and receive feedback from top industry executives last week at the school’s annual Table Read event in New York. Sponsored by 21CF and co-hosted by National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe, the table read served as both a celebration and fundraiser for Ghetto Film School, which teaches filmmaking to teenagers from underserved communities in NY and LA, and creates a unique pipeline for original and underrepresented voices in Hollywood.

GFS students had two scripts read by talent, including actors Christian Slater and John Leguizamo, and each reading was followed by a discussion moderated by NYU Tisch Film School’s Dr. Sheril Antonio, with additional feedback given by producer Robert Carlock. After revisions, students will film one of the scripts at the Frick Collection in New York City and will travel to Israel this summer to film the other. 

After supporting GFS in the Bronx for many years, 21CF helped open GFS LA as Founding Partner in 2014, and covers 100% of core operating costs so that all other donations go directly to programming for students and young artists. Students receive a rigorous college-level training in the artistic and technical aspects of storytelling, with hands-on experience in writing scripts, pitching story ideas, shooting on location, and editing a finished piece—all completely free of charge. 21CF also provides students with open access to content, resources, and learning opportunities with talent, executives, and filmmakers across the company, giving students a unique opportunity to learn from and contribute to the film and tv industry.

GFS NY students with actor Christian Slater
GFS NY students with actor Christian Slater

Learn more about Ghetto Film School and visit impact.21cf.com for more information about 21CF Social Impact.


Television Academy Honors Social Change This Is Us

This Is Us cast with creator Dan Fogelman. Photo courtesy the Television Academy.

At the Tenth Annual Television Academy Honors on June 8, three programs from 21st Century Fox businesses were recognized for harnessing “the extraordinary power of television to advance social change.” The honorees included National Geographic’s Before the Flood, a documentary from Academy Award winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens about the global effects of climate change, as well This Is Us and Speechless, two series produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television. Representatives from each program accepted the awards at the Beverly Hills event, which honored six total series drawn from more than 300 submissions.

"With a constant presence in people's daily lives, television consistently demonstrates its ability to power social change,” said Television Academy Chairman and CEO Hayma Washington. “The six honorees have effectively leveraged the medium to raise awareness of complex issues. We are honored to acknowledge storytellers producing meaningful television that provokes important conversations."

Before the Flood follows DiCaprio on a journey across five continents to explore the effects of climate change on our communities, as well as the political and social forces standing in the way of possible solutions. Throughout fall 2016, National Geographic worked to bring the film’s important message not only to government and business leaders but also to as many global viewers as possible, releasing the film across a record-breaking number of linear, digital, and social platforms. As a result, the film garnered more than 60 million viewers around the world, making it the most-watched National Geographic documentary in history.

“Typically, a network would buy a film and put it on their network exclusively, but we really felt that it was important for as many people to see this film as possible,” said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks. “At National Geographic, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, and we think there is no more important issue facing our planet today than that of climate change.”

This Is Us is an ensemble drama tackling the full range of social issues that confront the contemporary American family, including marriage, adoption, racial identity, addiction, body image, parenting, and more. Speechless is a comedy series about the family of a teenager with cerebral palsy. The show has sparked new conversations about disability in America and has garnered notable acclaim for its decision to cast an actor with cerebral palsy in the main role. Speechless creator and executive producer Scott Silveri spoke to these points in his acceptance speech.

“The number of people in America with disabilities is a lot, and the number of people with disabilities on television is not a lot, and the number of those people played by actual performers with disabilities is next to none. Sorry to beat you down with statistics, but they don’t lie,” Silveri joked. “The barriers to casting those with disabilities are false and they’re imagined, and the rewards to casting those people are great… Part of our responsibility in what we do is to represent society as a whole, and you can’t do that without representing disability.”

Learn more about the Television Academy Honors, including detailed looks at each of the television projects that were recognized.


Chasing Genius

21st Century Fox’s National Geographic is now accepting submissions for Chasing Genius, a new digital community developed in partnership with GSK Consumer Healthcare based on the idea that global change can come from anyone and anywhere. The platform is inspired by Genius, Nat Geo’s first scripted series produced by Academy Award winners Brain Grazer and Ron Howard, which premiered in April and chronicles Albert Einstein’s life through stories about his friends, lovers, enemies, and fellow scientific luminaries.

Nat Geo and GSK listened to what their audience cares about most and chose three critical areas where transformational ideas could help change the world: making our planet more sustainable, improving global health, and kickstarting our ability to feed 9 billion people in the world. Through July 31, 2017, anyone in the world can create a 1-minute video submission to solve these challenges, and three winners will receive $25,000 to turn their ideas into reality.

The partnership is premised on the idea that everyone has the potential for genius, and this new engagement platform provides a way to nurture that genius through the power of storytelling.

“We are thrilled to be launching Chasing Genius with GSK Consumer Healthcare,” said Brendan Ripp, executive vice president of brand partnerships, National Geographic. “We believe there is a great opportunity to align our partners to our brand values, and bring them closer to our highly engaged global community through a platform-first approach. Chasing Genius exemplifies what is possible when we leverage the full scope of Nat Geo’s brand and storytelling capabilities, and deliver on our promise to ultimately take our partners further.”

Visit Chasing Genius and follow @NatGeo to learn more and submit your own idea today!

New episodes of ‘Genius’ air on Tuesday nights at 9PM ET on National Geographic.


Neko Harbour, Antarctica

As part of 21st Century Fox’s commitment to minimizing our environmental impacts, growing sustainably, and inspiring others to take action, we celebrated Earth Month this April by partnering with National Geographic on an exclusive photography competition, judged by a Nat Geo photo editor. The contest invited 21CF colleagues around the world to submit their best nature photography and shots of action against climate change, for a chance to win a free National Geographic Expedition trip, well as runner-up prizes of GoPro and Canon PowerShot cameras. The grand prize includes a ten day trip for two to the Galápagos Islands and the opportunity to explore its unique wildlife aboard the National Geographic’s Endeavour II, led by a Nat Geo Expert.

21CF is excited to announce the winners of the “Earth in Focus” photo contest below. Check out all of the entries to see how our inspiring colleagues are working to protect the planet every day. Special congratulations to Eric Barnes, who will be headed to the Galápagos Islands with Nat Geo later this year.

Grand Prize Winner: Eric Barnes; FOX News, Los Angeles

Photo, featured above, taken in Neko Harbour, Antarctica as part of a kayaking expedition; February 2017

 

Runner Up: Michael Horan; Fox TV Stations, Washington DC

Photo taken in Höfn, Iceland; January 2016

Horan

Runner Up: Yasen Velchev; FNG Bulgaria

Photo taken in Sinemorets, Bulgaria; August 2015

Velchev

To learn more about 21st Century Fox’s sustainability commitments and other Social Impact initiatives, please visit impact.21cf.com and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @21CF_Impact.