Can a story change the world? We’re counting on it.
Invisible Children was founded on a film. The Rough Cut made its debut in 2004 after our co-founders Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when the trio from Southern California discovered that children in Uganda were sleeping in the streets because they were afraid of being abducted by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and turned into child soldiers. Discovering this tragedy disgusted and inspired them, and they made a promise to do all they could to stop it. So they made a film.
The Rough Cut woke up a generation of young people who were asking, “What can we do to help these children?” Out of that question came a multitude of solutions and creative ideas that didn’t stop at documenting LRA atrocities. Over the last decade, Invisible Children has established a four-part model that also activates youth, protects civilians, and rehabilitates post-conflict communities. While all four parts are equally important and dynamic, we are first and foremost a storytelling, media-based organization.
“We believe at Invisible Children that content is king. It has to be the most compelling, the most astonishing, the most passionate [in order to] tell a story that is quality, entertaining, and heartbreaking in hopes that the viewer wants to participate.”
KONY 2012 was our 10th film. A lot people may not/did not/do not know that nine films came before it. For almost a decade we have told stories essentially of friendship – when you hear about an individual and what their dreams are, what their fears are, you connect on a friendship level and want to fight for them. We are taught in our culture that you can’t relate to someone who is halfway around the world, but we at Invisible Children believe that’s fundamentally untrue.
From 2005-2011, we released seven films as part of our Bracelet Campaign. Each film introduced a person directly affected by the LRA conflict, and each corresponded with a colored bracelet. At the height of the war in northern Uganda, millions of people were living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps with no opportunities to earn a living. The Bracelet Campaign was a response to that, at its peak employing several hundred bracelet-makers to make traditional Acholi-style bracelets that were paired with each film. The people who watched and purchased each film were then able to wear a literal reminder of each story (and still can – all the videos & bracelets are available HERE).
White is for Innocent (2005): The story of a night commuter. Forced to flee his home daily to sleep in the city for fear of getting abducted by the LRA, Innocent is the story of a boy with big dreams in the midst of an unrelenting war.
Green is for Grace (2006): The story of a child mother. Abducted by the LRA as a child, she escaped at age 16 only to find she was pregnant with an LRA commander’s child.
Red is for Emmy (2006): The story of an orphan. The wounds of war are not always inflicted by bullets, and the killers are not always soldiers.
Black is for Sunday (2007): The story of the displaced. Orphaned at a young age, Sunday is a 13-year-old boy who lives in a displacement camp and struggles to survive amid the effects of poverty, disease, and malnutrition.
Blue is for Roseline (2008): The story of an AIDS victim. Since the day she was born, Roseline has been infected by HIV/AIDS. In northern Uganda, wars are not only fought on the battlefield.
Grey is for Rescue (2009): The story of the child soldier. Go on the journey with our three co-founders as they retrace their struggles and triumphs throughout the past six years in working to end the longest running war in Africa.
Brown is for Tony (2011): In The Rough Cut, Tony asked us “not to forget about him” and we promised we wouldn’t. This film is the fulfillment of that promise; it follows Tony’s friendship with IC filmmaker Laren Poole and the triumphs and tragedies they’ve endured along the way.
In addition to the Bracelet Campaign films, we’ve released four others focused on global action.
Go (2008): IC posed a challenge to youth around the world: raise one million dollars in 100 days to rebuild schools in northern Uganda. Thousands of students rallied, and 20 were rewarded with an adventure of a lifetime: a trip into Africa’s longest-running war. This is the story of a generation discovering that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, but where you go.
Together We Are Free (2009): In 2007 when the LRA was still ravaging through Uganda, IC organized an international event where thousands of people gathered to ‘abduct themselves for the abducted’ at a 100-city, ten-country awareness event called THE RESCUE. This is the story of the brave and dedicated individuals that did not go home until every city was rescued, with the hope that one day the children will be rescued too.
KONY 2012 (2012): It started as an experiment. Could an online video make an obscure war criminal famous? And if he was famous, would the world work together to stop him? Or would it let him remain at large? The experiment yielded the fastest growing viral video of all time, generating 100 million views in six days.
MOVE (2012): A behind-the-scenes look at the viral video KONY 2012, Invisible Children, and the movement that made Joseph Kony famous.
We are proud to be storytellers and visionaries and are beyond grateful to have the support of so many people around the world. All we do is only possible because of the members of Fourth Estate who donate on a monthly basis to fund our mission.
P.S. In addition to our officially-released documentaries, we have a gazillion other videos.