18 November 1955 |
|Education||Cathedral and John Connon School
Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (Carleton University)
Stanford University Business School
Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University)
London School of Economics
|Occupation||television producer, animation producer, film producer, social entrepreneur, author|
|Notable work||The Three Amigos
Buzz and Bite
No Thanks, We're Fine
A Child Without A Country
Nan and Lili
Honk, Toot and Swo-swoosh
PanAsia: Journeys on Asian Cuisine
City Of The Rich
Such A Long Journey
Love Come Down
Ebola: A Poem For The Living
In Praise Of Ebola Prevention
Firdaus Kharas (Fir-dose Kha-RASS) MA, LLD (hc), DHum (hc) is a social entrepreneur and media producer who uses video and animation to better the human condition around the world. He founded Chocolate Moose Media in 1995 to produce for-profit and not-for-profit content for film and television aimed at progressive behaviour change. He was born November 18, 1955 in Calcutta, India, and is now Canadian.
His TV series and documentaries have focussed on health issues, children's television series, human rights, dementia and refugees. He has won 83 international awards, including the Trailblazer Award, 2016 Best Global Informative Short Film Producer and was named in February 2015 as one of the world's 50 Best Social Innovators.
His notable works include seven public-service announcement campaigns (PSA) including The Three Amigos Campaign, targeting the spread of HIV/AIDS; Buzz and Bite, focussing on protection against malaria; and No Excuses, combatting domestic violence. In 2006 The Three Amigos was given the Peabody Award. He recently completed three animated shorts to prevent the spread of Ebola in West Africa and has recently created two animated videos related to nature conservation.
Prior to his media career Kharas worked in the Canadian public service dealing with immigration and refugee policy and on United Nations affairs. He has travelled to 140 countries and frequently speaks at international conferences, trains animators and sits on media festival juries.
Early life and education
Kharas was born into an upper middle-class Parsi family during Calcutta’s most turbulent period of social upheaval, which would influence his entire life. His father was a mechanical engineer and his mother a British-trained lawyer. First introduced to progressive causes by his mother, who volunteered for an NGO, he was taught the realities of disenfranchised people and at age eight was taken to Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying. At the time he also started writing plays and acting in high school productions first at La Martiniere School For Boys in Calcutta and then at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay. After graduation he was the first recipient of the Rotary Club of Bombay’s international exchange-student scholarship. With it he attended an honors year at Commodore Perry High School in Hadley, Pennsylvania. Kharas then studied political science as an undergraduate at Thiel College, Pennsylvania (BA, 1978). In his final year he won the National Model United Nations debate.
In 1978 Dr. John Sigler offered him a full scholarship to complete a master's degree at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (MA, 1980) in Ottawa. His thesis was on human rights and human security and he wrote a draft international Convention Against Torture. Since graduation he has continued his studies: in marketing and law at the University of Ottawa; in senior management at Harvard University’s J.F. Kennedy School of Government; in social innovation at Stanford University’s Centre for Social Innovation; and in climate change at the London School of Economics.
After university, Kharas authored two books: Togo, an investment analysis of business and political risk in the West African country, and How To Immigrate To Canada.
Kharas was the executive director of the United Nations Association in Canada from 1982 until 1987. Within that capacity he was the secretary of the jury for the Peace Medal and was awarded a United Nations Peace Medal by Javier Perez de Cuellar, the U.N. Secretary General, during a state visit to Canada in 1985. He then focussed on refugees by serving as policy adviser to Barbara McDougall, Canada’s Minister of Employment and Immigration, before being appointed Assistant Deputy Chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board, where his mandate was the help clear up the backlog of more than 100,000 refugee claimants from 115 countries. In 1995 his desire to impact social problems drew him into the private sector, into mass communications for social change.
Chocolate Moose Media was founded that year in Canada but set up its first production facilities in Singapore and Malaysia to train locals and produce animated and dramatic television series. With the Malaysian Royal Family (Jaafar of Negeri Sembilan) as partner, Kharas created City of the Rich, Asia’s first English-language daily soap opera that ran for 200 one-hour episodes. He then focussed on cultural content with the 300-episode animated series Nan and Lili (2008) - the only Arabic language animated series for pre-schoolers - and Magic Cellar (2006) - the first series about African culture for children, which won 29 international-festival awards and was bought by HBO. His programs have appeared on the Disney Channel, Discovery, Animal Planet and Nickelodeon, among many others.
Kharas is a world leader in producing cross-cultural behaviour-change campaigns using animated shorts that he distributes free of charge and have been versioned into 100 languages. He produced spots for UNICEF’s Cartoons for Children’s Rights and then for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children. In 2004 Kharas worked with South African film maker Brent Quinn to produce and direct The Three Amigos Campaign, a series of animated PSAs to educate people about the use of condoms to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. The series was officially launched in 2005 in six languages and has since been translated into 45 languages that can reach 5.5 billion people in 150 countries. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu is an advocate and the series won the Peabody Award. In 2008 Kharas launched a second series of PSAs called Buzz and Bite using animated mosquitos to teach viewers about ways to protect themselves from the transmission of malaria. A third series called No Excuses was launched in 2011, also using animated characters to prevent domestic violence by questioning its cultural justifications. All three campaigns were launched at the United Nations and are the central focus for the Culture Shift website. A feature story in the Atlantic magazine brought all these issues together in one place.
Kharas created a series on values in Arabic for the Al Jazeeera Children's Channel called Hind and Hamza that tackled such sensitive topics as racism and gender equality.
He has produced six documentary films, including A Child Without a Country: Pedro about Canada’s refugee system and on YouTube about caregivers to people with dementia. He has also completed a campaign to help those without electricity change from poisonous kerosene lamps to solar power in The Solar Campaign. Kharas is also the subject of a documentary film called Firdaus Kharas: The Animated Activist.
In response to the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa in 2014, Kharas worked with an international team to produce A Poem For The Living an animated video dealing with prevention of the disease that has had more than one million views online. In the middle of 2015 Kharas completed In Praise of Prevention, a second animated short designed to prevent the next outbreak of Ebola with soundtrack sung by Angelique Kidjo, and also a third called Beyond Survival that addresses the stigma of being an Ebola survivor. Other projects included an animated 12-video series focussing on a group of elementary school children who are affected by Type I diabetes; a whiteboard animation addressing violence against children in Malawi; and a six-video series about children's values. His two videos about nature conservation were for IUCN and WAZA.
As a speaker, Kharas has appeared at events like Yale University’s Unite For Sight (2009-2016) and advised graduating students during commencement speeches. He has sat on television juries for the likes of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awards as well as presiding over juries for such festivals as the Cairo International Film Festival for Children.
His PSA material runs to 3,400 videos in 95 languages and is available in a channel on Vimeo.
- Zika Prevention
- Biodiversity Is Us - World Association of Zoos and Acquariums
- Nature For All
- Asbestos Kills - Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization
- Polio - The Switch
- The Solar Campaign
- Beyond Survival
- In Praise of Prevention
- Values For Young Children
- Rights of Children With Diabetes - Qatar Diabetes Association
- Ebola - A Poem For the Living
- Hind and Hamza
- George of the Jungle
- No Thanks We're Fine - Alzheimer's Support
- No Excuses
- Child Without a Country: Pedro
- Desert Riders - documentary about child camel jockeys
- Buzz and Bite
- Nan and Lili
- Magic Cellar
- Shorts of the Asian Games
- Honk, Toot and Swo-Swoosh
- The Three Amigos
- PanAsia - Journeys in Asian Cuisine
- Toad Patrol
- Daft Planet
- Untalkative Bunny
- Canada's Two Cent's Worth
- Animated logos for UNAIDS
- Animated Jam - UNICEF
- Animated logos for UNICEF
- Speed's Choice
- City of the Rich
- Let's See, Let's Learn
- Children Have the Right to Protection From Neglect - UNICEF
- Children Have the Right to Protection in War - UNICEF
- The Circle is Complete
Awards and honours
Kharas has won 84 international awards for his film and video work (the major ones are listed below). In 2007 he received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Thiel College; in 2009 he was named an Honorary Fellow at the American InterContinental University; and in 2015 he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Carleton University and in 2016 during the university's 75th anniversary was named one of its 75 most-distinguished alumni. In 1985 he was awarded a United Nations Peace Medal for his efforts at the United Nations Association of Canada; in 2009 he received the End Malaria Award from the Malaria Foundation International; in 2013 he was recognized by The Guardian newspaper’s International Achievement Award; and in 2015 was named one of the world’s 50 most-talented social innovators by the World CSR Congress.
- Award of Excellence - Indiefest
- Award of Merit - Best Shorts Film Competition
- Silver Screen and Certificates of Creative Excellence - U.S. International Film and Video Festival
- Telly Award (2) - Telly Awards
- Best Global Informative Short Film Producer - TMT News Entertainment Awards
- Platinum REMI Award - Worldfest
- Best Animated Video - PR Daily Video Awards
- Telly Award
- Telly Award
- Telly Award
- Two Silver Globes - World Media Festival
- Golden Eagle - CINE (Council on International Non-theatrical Events)
- Canadian Senate Statement of Recognition - Canadian Senate
- Platinum Best in Show - Aurora Awards
- Best Animation Film - FADE-IN Awards
- Gold and Silver World Medals - New York and World Media Festivals
- Telly Award
- Golden Eagle - CINE
- George Foster Peabody Award
- Golden Reel (2) - Motion Picture Sound Editors
- Telly Award (3)
- Gold and Silver Awards - Davey Awards
- First Prize, Children’s Jury - Chicago International Children’s Film Festival
- Bronze, Statuette and Honorable Mention - Columbus International Film and Video Festival
- Two Grand Festival Awards - Berkeley Video and Film Festival
- Telly Award
- Gold (2) and Silver REMI Awards - Worldfest
- Golden Eagle - CINE
- Reel Trailblazer Award
- Silver Hugo and Certificate of Merit - Chicago International Film Festival
- Golden Eagle and Special Jury Award - CINE
- 66th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2007.
- Pitching Rubbers. "The New Yorker".
- Tutu, Desmond. "In Support of The Three Amigos" (PDF).
- Peabody Awards. "2006 winners".
- Jaffer, Mobina. "Canadian Senate".
- United Nations. "Press Briefing". Retrieved 8 May 2012.
- United Nations. "Press Briefing".
- United Nations. "Press Briefing".
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