The Cinema for Peace Foundation awarded writer/actor/director Ben Affleck on Friday with its Cinema for Peace Humanitarian Award for his work with the Eastern Congo Initiative, an organization he founded in 2010 to raise awareness for and bring assistance to regions of eastern Congo stricken with violence and disease.
Affleck told ET, "My cause, the Eastern Congo Initiative, is about the
place in the world, which is in central Africa, that's probably
suffering the most. It's devastated by war and hunger and preventable
disease. They've had over three million people die over the last 15
years. People kind of want to tune out from that, and so I'm trying to
use the power of cinema and the media to have folks tune in."
"[For Argo], while I don't want to make obvious messages, I do
want to give [audiences] a sense of the grander connectivity between
people…people who are all trying to live their lives and figure out how
to work and live together," Affleck told ET. "It's about storytelling.
Storytelling saves lives, storytelling changes the world. … We tell
stories to our family members and those who are intimate with us. That's
how we communicate who we are and express our souls. Storytelling is a
powerful thing. "
The Gala for Humanity dinner event, which took place at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA, was also attended by such notable figures as Thandie Newton, Alfre Woodard, Kristin Bell, Dax Shepard, Cheyenne Jackson, and Cindy McCain. The music of the evening was provided by African band Maisha Soul, who themselves hail from the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
For more from the event, including Thandie Newton's thoughts on her time on ER and the movie that inspired Affleck to change his life, click the video above!