LIFEBOAT: Film Screening & Discussion with director Skye Fitzgerald


Location: Online



Thursday, April 29, 2021
4:00 PM Virtual Film Screening on GATHR
4:45 PM Virtual Film Discussion on Zoom

Director: Skye Fitzgerald
Producer: Skye Fitzgerald, Bryn Mooser
A SPIN FILM production in association with RYOT
Runtime: 34m

Film director Skye Fitzgerald will be present during the discussion with William Collins Donahue, Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities and Director, Initiative for Global Europe, Keough School of Global Affairs, Elizabeth Ferris, Research Professor, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University, and Marie Naass, Head of Advocacy, Germany and EU at Sea-Watch, Germany.

This event is co-sponsored by the Keough School of Global Affairs' Initiative for Global Europe.

Free event. Registration required.

Register for Film

About the Film

In 2015, SPIN FILM produced 50 FEET FROM SYRIA—focused on the civilian impact of the Syrian conflict. This was the first of a triad of films focused on one of the great humanitarian crises of our time—the plight of refugees in a global and interconnected world. 

In a political environment increasingly hostile to immigrants and refugees, documenting the real-life plight of those fleeing war and oppression is more vital and important than ever. 

LIFEBOAT bears witness to refugees desperate enough to risk their lives in rubber boats leaving Libya in the middle of the night, despite a high probability of drowning. With few resources but certain that civil society must intervene, volunteers from a German non-profit risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts. 

In a real-life context with dire consequences, LIFEBOAT puts a human face on one of the world’s greatest contemporary, global crises and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in the refugee crisis in a meaningful way.

About the Director

Skye Fitzgerald 600x Bw Jic Sf Bw Offcam


Skye Fitzgerald founded Spin Film to bear witness to unfolding crises with the intent to deepen empathy and understanding. He is currently directing a trilogy of films on the global refugee crisis. The first, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist.  The second, LIFEBOAT documents Search and Rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award.

The third, HUNGER WARD, explores the impact of the war and famine in Yemen on children, families, and healthcare workers.

As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film BOMBHUNTERS and has worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, and Mountainfilm. As a director of photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, etc.

Fitzgerald was recently inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work.

Fitzgerald is a member of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Before filmmaking, Fitzgerald cut fire-lines as a wildland HotShot crewmember. He continues to ride his bicycle to ruin and hugs two dogs on a daily basis.

About the Discussants

William Collins Donahue 2015 600x Bw

William Collins Donahue is the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., Professor of the Humanities at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Initiative for Global Europe at the Keough School of Global Affairs.

Donahue, who holds a Ph.D. in German Literature from Harvard, is a scholar of contemporary German literature and film. The author of “Holocaust as Fiction: Bernhard Schlink’s ‘Nazi’ Novels and Their Films” and “The End of Modernism: Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-Fé,” he is a concurrent professor of  Film, Television, and Theatre. He also served as chair of Notre Dame’s Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures.

A fellow of the Nanovic Institute since 2015, Donahue is co-director of the Notre Dame Berlin Seminar, which brings American scholars of German literary and cultural studies together with experts and leading figures of Germany’s literary scene.

Elizabeth Ferris 600x Bw

Elizabeth Ferris is an ISIM Research Professor at Georgetown and a non-resident senior fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. She joined ISIM in Fall 2015 after serving for 9 years as a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Brookings Project on Internal Displacement and as an adjunct professor in Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Prior to joining Brookings in November 2006, Ferris spent 20 years working in the field of international humanitarian response, most recently in Geneva, Switzerland at the World Council of Churches. She has also served as Chair of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), as Research Director for the Life & Peace Institute in Uppsala, Sweden, as Director of the Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program in New York. She has been a professor at several U.S. universities and served as a Fulbright professor to the Universidad Autónoma de México in Mexico City. She has written or edited six books and many articles on humanitarian and human rights issues which have been published in both academic and policy journals. Her current research interests focus on the politics of humanitarian action and on the role of civil society in protecting displaced populations.

Marie Naass 2018 600x Bw

Marie Naass is Head of Advocacy, Germany and EU at Sea-Watch, Germany, a non-profit organization that conducts civil search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean. With a background in international development and public relations, Naass has been involved in the field of migration for almost a decade. This has included work on various refugee projects, from Calais Solidarity to volunteer work in Chios, Greece, and representing various search and rescue NGOs at the European Union. 



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