Russell and Kristen Bell in 2009
October 12, 1978 |
El Cajon, California, U.S.
|Residence||San Diego, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||USC School of Cinematic Arts|
|Occupation||Film director, charity worker, activist.|
|Known for||Kony 2012
Invisible Children, Inc.
|Board member of||Invisible Children, Inc.|
|Spouse(s)||Danica Jones (2004-present)|
Jason Russell (born October 12, 1978) is an American film and theater director, choreographer, and activist who co-founded Invisible Children, Inc. He is the director of Kony 2012, a short documentary film that went viral in the beginning of March 2012. In the first two weeks it gained more than 83 million views on YouTube and became the subject of intensive media scrutiny and criticism. Its subject is the Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, his alleged war crimes, and the movement to bring him to the International Criminal Court.
Russell, along with Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole, originally created the Invisible Children organization in 2003 after "they traveled to Uganda and witnessed children camping out in the city of Gulu to avoid being kidnapped into the militia in their villages." They had originally traveled to Africa as student filmmakers, without a plan on what the documentary would actually focus on, having obtained their camera equipment from eBay. According to Russell, the trip was inspired by the 1993 death of Dan Eldon, who had been beaten to death while trying to document the ongoing famine in Somalia.
Originally, the group had been traveling to the Sudan to shoot their documentary, but once they had arrived, the group was forced to retreat to Northern Uganda after having their caravan attacked by the Lord's Resistance Army. While in Gulu, Russell and the others interviewed and videotaped the children who were forced to commute to the city every night so as to avoid raids by the LRA on their home villages in Acholiland. While filming, the three men contracted malaria, but purposefully decided to leave any footage of them being sick out of the film so that it would be focused on the children. The footage resulted in the original Invisible Children documentary draft, which first began being screened in June 2004.
Russell and others returned to Uganda in 2005 for a six month stay to collect more interviews and documentation for the next Invisible Children documentary. In 2007 at the Heartland Film Festival, Russell, Bailey, and Poole were awarded the Pioneering Spirit Award for their 2006 production of Invisible Children: Rough Cut. In 2006 after the Washington D.C. screening of the rough cut by Russell and Poole, the "plight of the Acholi" was brought to the attention of the U.S. Congress and was approved to be discussed before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
Russell discussed acting in an interview when he was 13 years old: "That was my life. It was what everybody around me did. I didn't even think about it. I did my first show at 8, and I have done over 20 plays since. You can't do this if you don't like it. You have to commit yourself to it." Russell graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. With Danica Jones and Jon M. Chu, he co-wrote a musical, Moxie, which the team sold to Steven Spielberg.
On March 15, 2012, Russell was detained by San Diego police after he was found in a state of undress, interfering with traffic and screaming incoherently. Russell was then taken to a local hospital. According to a family statement, the diagnosis was "brief reactive psychosis, an acute state brought on by extreme exhaustion, stress, and dehydration".
|Roseline: The Story of an AIDS Victim||2008|
|Together We Are Free||2009|
- California birth index
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- "CCT". CYT San Diego. 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
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- "Jason Russell". invisiblechildren.com. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
- Nicole Urso, "Dance Fever", Los Angeles Magazine, December 2003, page 94-100
- "Theatrics put this duo in the spotlight | The San Diego Union-Tribune". Utsandiego.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
- Orden, Erica (2011-10-18). "'Kony 2012' Director Jason Russell Detained After 'Meltdown' - Speakeasy - WSJ". Blogs.wsj.com. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
- "Jason Russell and Alex Harris - Liberty University Convocation". libertyuniversity YouTube channel. January 17, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Flock, Elizabeth (March 16, 2012). "Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell hospitalized after public breakdown - BlogPost - The Washington Post". The Washington Post (Washington DC: WPC). ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- "'Kony 2012' director suffered 'reactive psychosis,' family says". CNN.com. March 21, 2012. Retrieved March 21, 2012.