Louise’s Story

Louise Hogarth is an Academy Award winning Director, Producer and Writer. Her work brings to light true stories about people and events with the intention of inspiring a call to action and accelerating social change. Her documentaries provide a platform for very difficult subjects and have dealt with such issues as HIV/AIDS, poverty and LGBT rights. Elephant Refugees, currently in production, adds animal rights & welfare to this list. She is also the Founder and President of Dream Out Loud Productions, a US based non-profit, independent television and film production company dedicated to the creation of media projects that enlighten people, inspire action and foster positive change.

Hogarth grew up in Alaska. The long cold winters were spent reading, beyond her curfew, under the bed covers with a trusty, rechargeable flashlight. In the dark of night, Hogarth consumed the great classics by the dozen. She found all manner of human endeavour and suffering in those pages and became inspired to get out there and DO something. To make a difference, to take action in her life to benefit humanity no matter how small and to act with great love for all. Hogarth started her career at Twentieth Century Fox as an Assistant Editor, which gave her a fantastic foundation in post-production.

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With this experience under her belt and the introduction of low budget cameras, Hogarth was able to start directing her own films. Now living and working in South Africa, Louise directed a number of commercials and feature films, including a recreation of The Forgotten Journey of Mark Twain, filmed in Nicaragua. Hogarth produced the 1992 feature documentary, The Panama Deception. This controversial film provides analysis of US relations with Panama during the 1989 invasion as well as a devastating critique of the surrounding mainstream media and its complicity with the official government line. It was banned in Panama but won the Oscar for Best Feature Length Documentary in 1994.

Hogarth’s 2002 documentary short, Does Anybody Die of AIDS Anymore? discusses the misconceptions and half-truths that contributed to a third wave of HIV infection in the US. Health educators and clinicians describe the devastating side effects of preventative treatments and shocking websites are shown to promote unprotected sex and ‘barebacking’ parties.

Hogarth then went on to Write & Direct award-winning documentary The Gift, which premiered at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival in 2003 and has since screened at more than 180 film festivals worldwide. The Gift documents ‘bug-chasing’, the phenomenon of deliberate HIV infection, and explores the normalization and glamorization of HIV/AIDS in the world’s media. The film broadcast worldwide including the Sundance Channel, VPRO, Netflix (the list goes on..!) and continues to show worldwide as part of HIV/AIDS awareness and educational programming. In recognition of her pioneering work, Hogarth was selected from a pool of 300 Scientists in the United States and Canada as ‘one of twenty iconoclasts who redefined science’. (Seed Magazine – Anniversary Issue “A Portfolio of the Icons & Iconoclasts who Redefined Science in 2003”).

While screening The Gift in Cape Town, South Africa, Louise became acutely aware of the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on children and young people in South Africa. She was invited to visit the Botshabelo Orphanage by a friend and what she saw there compelled her to make her next documentary. Angels in the Dust (2007), Executive Produced by Participant Media, tells the inspirational story of one woman and her immediate family who left behind a privileged life in Johannesburg to set up and run a small village and school in a rural town eighty kilometres to the North. The centre now provides shelter, food, education and love to well over three hundred children, many of whom are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS. Angels in the Dust raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Botshabelo Orphanage and enabled them to expand their care facilities significantly. The documentary had a theatrical release in fourteen theatres, broadcast internationally and has won many coveted awards; Best International Documentary at the Encounters Film Festival SA; Emerging Pictures/Full Frame Audience Award; Seattle Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Best Documentary. The film was also selected by the International Documentary Association for inclusion in its Docuweek.

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Louise passionately believes in the power of films to touch hearts, change attitudes and foster positive change. She is known for kick-starting successful international awareness campaigns. After experiencing the tragedy of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in the making of Angels in the Dust, she founded the DO Ubuntu Orphan Campaign (DOU). DOU is a revenue-generating project working primarily with women crafters in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The project provides training and employment to between fifty and eighty rural crafters at one time. Proceeds from bracelet and crafts sales support approximately two hundred and twenty children living at two orphanages and two safe houses with monthly cash donations and everything from washing machines to vegetable gardens. After eight years the project is still going strong. For more information visit the DOU Facebook & website.

Louise’s next short film, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell explores the Pentagon’s policy to prohibit enlistment to the US military on grounds of sexual orientation. The film tells the story of two enlisted officers who have been dismissed under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. The policy, banning gay and lesbian Americans from serving openly, was implemented under Clinton in 1993 and repealed by Obama in 2011. A spokeswoman from the Service-Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) said she was confident that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would help ‘establish fighting the ban as a front-burner gay issue’ (Gay City News, Vol.4/24 June 23-29 2005).

In 2010 Hogarth worked with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to Direct and Produce If Not Now. The film is an overview of the AHF worldwide ‘Testing Millions Campaign’; its successes, challenges and a call for all to be tested. The film was shot in countries around the world: Kenya, Uganda, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico and India. Hogarth is the recipient of an Amnesty International Award in recognition of her contribution to promoting greater awareness and understanding of human rights issues.

Louise’s current documentary, Elephant Refugees, follows the triumphs and heartaches of the Moller family as they struggle to provide water to 300-400 elephants a day at their bush lodge in Botswana. The film tracks the stories of elephants who have become regulars at Elephant Sands: the clever one’s who have learned how to turn on the taps in the ablution blocks, and the naughty one’s who pull out pipes, destroy toilets and break into chalets in their search for water. On average, 40 toilets are replaced each month by the local hardware store, located 3 hours from camp. The biggest financial burden, however, is providing water. In the midst of drought, the watering holes are running dry, and the family, against overwhelming odds, confronts their greatest challenge of all: how to keep the lodge open, the water flowing, and the elephants alive.

Louise became acutely aware of the crisis facing the world’s elephants whilst filming Angels in the Dust. In the film the story of the orphaned children is paralleled with the orphaned elephants of the Pilanesberg National Park. The longtime practice of culling – killing adult elephants to control herd size – had torn apart the complex social fabric of elephant families. As a result, orphaned baby elephants grew up exhibiting unusually violent behavior, such as attacking and killing rhinos. Adult elephants were re-introduced into the Pilanesberg population to bring the unruly teenagers into line. Both human children and young elephants alike need nurturing parents to become good citizens.

Watch our animated true story of elephant compassion below.

Louise plans to replicate the success of DOU by embarking on a new social venture after the release of Elephant Refugees. Crafters will be employed to make grass elephant “hair” bracelets and proceeds will support water access for camps like Elephants Sands.

Louise believes in the philosophy of Ubuntu: DO unto others as you would have them DO unto you.

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 DO Ubuntu Orphan Bracelet Crafters, Grahamstown, South Africa.