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Charitable Art

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Out of the many things I consider myself to be passionate about, I have to say the movie industry and charitable work occupy a very important place among them. Last month, I was reading through one of my favorite magazines and, interestingly enough, I stumbled upon an article that managed to perfectly encapsulate the two.

Most may recognize actor James Franco, age 38, for his performances in 127 Hours and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Besides being a Hollywood powerhouse credited with over 137 projects in filmography, Franco has now embarked on a brand new venture where he combines some of his passions—from making motion pictures to lecturing student filmmakers and aspiring young actors to contribute to his favorite charity. The project’s idea is to create a nonprofit film studio through the junction of Franco’s own film production company, Rabbit Bandini Productions, and the Art of Elysium charity. The latter is a NGO whose mission is to empower needy communities to come together and emotionally overcome their hardships through art. It supports emerging artists as a catalyst for changes in the world. One of the greatest features of Art of Elysium is to serve as a bridge bringing together artists and underprivileged individuals providing both with the chance to exchange their experiences and knowledge. Each of these groups is enriched by the end of the work to go out in the world and put what they have gained into practice. The joint entities will then give creation to Elysium Bandini Studios whose main focus will be to support and produce the projects of students and professionals. All accumulated proceeds will go directly to Art of Elysium.

Vince Jolivette, Franco’s producing partner and longtime friend who has also embarked on this mission, explained this project’s vision as “a nonprofit film studio where we [give] talented young filmmakers a platform to do their thing and fulfill their artistic vision, plus give back to the community through Art of Elysium.”

Since its start, Elysium Bandini Studios has already completed fourteen features under its name. Most of these projects were created and directed by students from universities in which Franco has taught filmmaking such as USC, NYU, Cal Arts, and UCLA.

Besides having many completed projects that have been made under its roof, the production studio has had many well-known artists featured in its movies including Whoopi Goldberg, Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, TV presenter Jimmy Kimmel, and even Franco himself. Franco’s satisfaction is made evident through his testimony, “When these actors come back and work with the young people, it’s a great reminder of the joy of what we do, and why we got into it in the first place.”

“This is students and charity coming together to make their own thing, a new thing,” said Franco, the man behind it all. “Hopefully, it’s a model that can expand, and there can be others besides me who can take on these projects”, he added as partner Jolivette completed, “To us, that [the project] was so much. It was everything.”

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