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Invisible Children to Shutter Operations in 2015

An interview with CEO Ben Keesey on the incredible journey of the organization behind #Kony2012.

It’s been nearly a decade since Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole—three young, guileless college filmmakers with a used camera they had bought on eBay—embarked to east Africa to film the war in Darfur. Instead, they found themselves in Uganda, collecting footage for a film about an entirely different conflict. The low budget project was titled Invisible Children and documented the horrors perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a violent Christian fundamentalist group led by Joseph Kony. The LRA had been waging a war against the Ugandan government for more than a decade, using child soldiers and large-scale civilian attacks. When the film premiered in front of 500 or so people in a community center in San Diego, CA, Ben Keesey, a friend of the trio’s, was so moved by the film that he accompanied the filmmakers on a second trip to the embattled country to see the conflict for himself. It was there he decided to abandon a job offer from financial giant Deloitte to join the threesome and help turn the film into a movement.

And that is exactly what they did. You only had to attend one of their Fourth Estate Summits to see it. The organization’s annual awareness and fundraising event felt like a cross between a rock concert and Revivalist gathering, drawing in thousands of young, impassioned people from around the world. But it was Invisible Children’s campaign to “End a War” in Uganda that would propel the organization to global renown in March 2012. The campaign’s official hashtag, #Kony2012, achieved an incredible reach, with pop icons like Diddy, Beyoncé, and Justin Bieber making unprompted public pronouncements about the plight of child soldiers in Uganda. The video peaked at more than 100 million views on YouTube and Kony soon became the world’s most wanted man. But other stars were made as well—most notably Russell, the earnestly hopeful, protagonist of the film.

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Watch: Invisible Children's Fourth Estate Summit

Invisible Children's Fourth Estate Summit August 8-11, 2013 includes sessions on education, women’s empowerment, human trafficking, LGBT equality, religion and war (full schedule), from a variety of changemaking speakers—and you watch the livestream right here.

Invisible Children's Fourth Estate Summit August 8-11, 2013 includes sessions on education, women’s empowerment, human trafficking, LGBT equality, religion and war (full schedule), from a variety of changemaking speakers—and you watch the livestream right here.

During the summit, leaders in the fields of culture, social entrepreneurship, human rights, and the arts will come together to share their learnings with 1,400 Millennials who have distinguished themselves as social enterprise mavens and advocacy navigators. Newly-confirmed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has just agreed to join us on stage and she will join other thought-leaders in the arenas of social good, nonprofits, world affairs, and activism, such as Kristen Bell, Sophia Bush, Rachel Bilson, Adam Braun, Elizabeth Gore, Dan Pallotta, Jason Russell, and others; as well as an innovative collection of non-profits and brands leading the charge in social enterprise, such as TOMS, charity: water, Pencils of Promise, Sevenly, Teach for America, ONE, United Nations Foundation, Rock the Vote, F Cancer, Keep a Breast, Do Something, Plant With Purpose, Raven + Lily, Sseko Designs, and Mend.

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'There's a Rabid Hunger to Criticize': A 'Kony 2012' Creator Defends the Film A 'Kony 2012' Creator Defends the Film

The most popular internet video in years has sparked tears and controversy. We talked to one guy who started the madness.


When Jedidiah Jenkins and the rest of the team at Invisible Children put their Kony 2012 mini-doc on YouTube and Vimeo on Monday, their goal was to get 500,000 views before 2013. Four days later, the video has garnered 52 million views, due in large part to its success on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and news sites around the world. Even gossip sites like Radar got in on the action, publishing "7 Things You Should Know About Joseph Kony" next to stories about Lindsay Lohan. But not all the attention was favorable. While Invisible Children’s film introduced millions to Joseph Kony and the atrocities of his Lord’s Resistance Army, dozens of scholars and critics have derided it as simplistic, erroneous, and colonialist. Others call Invisible Children "manipulative."

Invisible Children has already taken to its website to address some of the criticism. But GOOD conducted one of the first interviews in which Jenkins, director of ideology for Invisible Children and a major part of the film's production, takes us deeper into exactly what his organization hopes to accomplish with Kony 2012. We've omitted the part when Jenkins had to take another call from the infamous celebrity site TMZ. What a difference a week makes.

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