In 2009, actors Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-lee Furness, traveled to Ethiopia as ambassadors for World Vision Australia, one of the world's largest humanitarian aid organizations. As longtime donors, the Jackmans wanted to visit a World Vision community development project to see how rural communities were being empowered to eradicate poverty.
While in the Yirgacheffe region, Hugh met a 27 year-old coffee farmer named Dukale, working to lift his family out of poverty. Spending time on Dukale's farm, Hugh learned first-hand about the value of fair trade coffee and clean cookstove technology. By utilizing shade grown farming practices and limiting reliance on fossil fuels, Dukale was able to create a bio-farm with a zero carbon footprint and resounding health implications for his family. Additionally, his wife, Adanesh, who traditionally collected firewood for the family’s energy needs, now had time to focus on other income generating opportunities while their children pursued an education.
As a gesture of their new friendship, Dukale invited Hugh to plant some coffee seedlings on his farm -- Hugh accepted and named two trees after his own children, Oscar and Ava. Hugh was so inspired by his experience with Dukale, that he made a promise to advocate on behalf of farmers in developing countries and pledged to only drink fair trade coffee. At the end of his trip, Hugh visited the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange in Addis Ababa to see how coffee is traded on the global market. While watching the coffee prices fluctuate, Hugh found himself rooting for the prices to go up in order to benefit hard working coffee farmers.
Upon his return home to New York City, Hugh was invited to speak at United Nations Climate Week where he made an impassioned plea to world leaders to provide support for farmers like Dukale in developing countries. However, after his UN speech, Hugh still felt that there was more he could do and began talking to people in his neighborhood and at local coffee shops about the impact of fair trade coffee on the environment and the lives of the growers. He came to understand that something as simple as a cup of coffee had the potential to reduce global poverty through the choices consumers made in the United States. After sharing his newfound insights and experiences in Ethiopia with a friend in the restaurant business, Hugh decided the best way for him to have a direct impact on poverty reduction was to start a coffee company in order to trade directly with the growers. In 2011, Hugh launched Laughing Man Coffee & Tea to provide a marketplace for farmers like Dukale to sell their goods to consumers across the U.S.
Years later, the coffee trees Hugh and Dukale planted started to bear fruit. Dukale increased production on his farm, hired more local workers, and re-invested his profits to purchase additional land. Adanesh now runs a successful cafe in their village and their eldest child, Elias, is on track to become the first family member to graduate high school. Hugh’s coffee company, Laughing Man, recently partnered with one of the world's largest purchasers of fair trade coffee to distribute their products all over the world. As part of his ongoing commitment, Hugh contributes 100% of his profits to the Laughing Man Foundation, which he created to support educational programs, community development and social entrepreneurs around the world.
Dukale is a coffee farmer from the Kochore district of Southern Ethiopia. He and his wife Adanesh have five children. Although Dukale never went to school, he is determined that all of his children receive an education. Dukale has become a model for other farmers within his community, training others in farming techniques and business management. He is part of the Sigiga Cooperative within the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union.
Adanesh is married to Dukale. She runs a tea shop next to their house. She is also a member of World Vision's Women's Savings Group, focusing on financial savings, poultry farming and vegetable growing. The nutrition and health of her five children has improved from the eggs, vegetables and milk the family farm now produces.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, bestselling author, and syndicated columnist whose monthly newspaper columns appear in more than 100 countries. He has twice been named among Time Magazine’s "100 most influential world leaders". Professor Sachs serves as the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals and has authored three New York Times bestsellers including THE END OF POVERTY (2005). A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard.
Tekele Mammo is the General Manager of the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU). He leads a group of 23 cooperatives across Southern Ethiopia, representing 44,000 farmers. Tekele’s priority is to maximise the return to these farmers from the sale of their crops, improving living standards for a further 300,000 people from their families across the region. During his time at YCFCU, Takele has worked with various cooperatives to be certified as both Fair Trade and Organic.
Hugh Jackman is an Academy Award® nominated, Golden Globe and Tony Award winning actor. From his turn on Broadway as the 1970’s singer/songwriter Peter Allen, to his metal claw-wielding Wolverine in the X-MEN franchise, Jackman has proven to be one of the most versatile actors of our time. In addition to his acting work, Hugh serves as an ambassador for World Vision Australia. In 1999, he traveled to Ethiopia to visit a community development project and met a young coffee farmer named Dukale, working to lift his family out of poverty. Inspired by Dukale’s story, Jackman launched Laughing Man Coffee in 2011 to provide a marketplace for farmers in developing countries to sell their goods to consumers in the U.S. As part of his ongoing commitment, Hugh contributes 100% of his profits to the Laughing Man Foundation, which he created to support educational programs, community development and social entrepreneurs around the world.
Deborra-lee Furness is an internationally acclaimed actress and passionate advocate for vulnerable children. She has appeared in many movies and worked extensively in television and on stage. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Furness has won many awards including Best Actress from the highly regarded Film Critics Circle of Australia. Her humanitarian work for children is a driving force in her life. She founded National Adoption Awareness Week and Adopt Change in Australia, and is also on the advisory committee for the Global Poverty Project. In 2013, Deborra-lee was given the prestigious Angel in Adoption award by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in Washington, DC. The Harlem Village Academies also honored Furness for her philanthropy work in 2012 and she received the International Humanitarian Award by Mentors International in 2014. Deborra-lee was recently named NSW Australian of the Year for 2015.
Tim Costello is one of Australia’s most recognized voices on social justice, leadership and ethics. Since 2004, as CEO of World Vision Australia, Tim has been instrumental in ensuring that issues surrounding global poverty are placed on the national agenda. Prior to joining World Vision, Costello served as Minister at the Collins Street Baptist Church in Melbourne, and as Executive Director of Urban Seed, a Christian not-for-profit outreach service for the urban poor. Tim studied law and education at Monash University, followed by theology at the International Baptist Seminary in Switzerland. He also received a Masters Degree in Theology from the Melbourne College of Divinity and also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Australian Catholic University. His most recent book, HOPE, was published in 2012.
Assefa Tofu is a Climate Change & Carbon Market Specialist at World Vision in Ethiopia. Assefa is the carbon projects manager inspecting the naturally regenerated forest at the Humbo carbon project site in Ethiopia. He has a background in agriculture and natural resource research and development, and is convinced that environmental issues, climate change in particular, is the root cause of poverty in Ethiopia. Tofu has served as part of the official Ethiopian government delegation at the Copenhagen climate change talks and has shared his Humbo knowledge and experience in workshops in Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal and Malawi. He has also met with groups of Ethiopian pastors to discuss climate change and our stewardship of the earth.
Jesse Scolaro founded The 7th Floor production company in 2000 and has produced 25 feature films. His first film, MANITO, won a Special Jury Prize at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, the American Express Emerging Filmmaker Award at TriBeCa, the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW, the Open Palm Award at the Gothams, and 3 Independent Spirit Award nominations including Producer to Watch. Jesse's latest films include REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS executive produced by Martin Scorsese, and DUKALE’S DREAM featuring Hugh Jackman. Jesse has been a guest film lecturer at NYU, Columbia University, School of Visual Arts, and NY Film Academy at Princeton. He earned his BFA from the Film Conservatory at State University of New York, Purchase College in 1997.
Schuyler is an independent film producer and the co-founder of New York production company Tandem Pictures. In 2014, Tandem Pictures premiered the feature film THE SLEEPWALKER in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance, and later released the film with IFC. Another Tandem picture, WILDLIKE, premiered in 2014 at the Hamptons International Film Festival, while a third is currently in post-production. Prior to founding Tandem Pictures in 2010, Schuyler worked for five years in Sydney, Australia with filmmaker Baz Luhrmann (MOULIN ROUGE!, THE GREAT GATSBY) on all aspects of development, production, post-production and marketing of his films, even co-writing a song with Luhrmann and Elton John.
David Steingard is the co-founder and CEO of Laughing Man Coffee and Director of the Laughing Man Foundation. He left his work as a criminal prosecutor in Brooklyn to start Laughing Man Coffee with actor Hugh Jackman. They share the vision that business can be a vehicle for positive change and Laughing Man Coffee is a model. David was CEO of Creative Exposure, a small business marketing firm, and CEO of CompuTech Edge,a technology company for public schools. He hopes this film and the story of Dukale will inspire others.
Josh Rothstein is a filmmaker and photographer. His past work includes photographing some of music industries top artists including Steven Tyler, John Legend and P Diddy. Commercial directing projects include campaigns for Puma, Samsung, Heineken, and Mastercard. Josh worked with Baz Luhrmann to document Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire as they prepared for THE GREAT GATSBY. Rothstein has directed several projects with actor Hugh Jackman including a PSA for Haiti, a featurette of Jackman preparing to host the Oscars, and a promo of THE WOLVERINE for HBO's First Look series. Josh's feature documentary work includes 3 POINTS, about the plight of Darfur refugees, and DUKALE'S DREAM, the inspirational story behind Hugh Jackman's coffee company.
Julie is an independent film producer and the co-founder of New York production company Tandem Pictures. In 2014, Tandem Pictures premiered the feature film THE SLEEPWALKER in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance, and later released the film with IFC. Another Tandem picture, WILDLIKE, premiered in 2014 at the Hamptons International Film Festival, while a third is currently in post-production. Julie began her career as a production manager and line producer. In 2009, she Executive Produced MONOGAMY, which won best NY Narrative at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. Prior to starting Tandem Pictures in 2010, she was the Executive Vice President of Production and Development at Renart Films.
Dale Amtsberg is the Manager of Events & Ambassador Programs at World Vision Australia. He has been working with World Vision since 2011 and has worked on programs in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East. Prior to joining World Vision, Dale worked in politics and film, working with Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow. He was an Associate Producer on the Scott Hicks' documentary on Phillip Glass, GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILLIP IN 12 PARTS, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007.
Melanie Miller is a producer and co-founder of Fishbowl Films. She has over two decades of experience in the film industry as an acquisitions & marketing executive, casting associate, festival programmer, music supervisor and producer. Recently, Melanie was the Vice President of Acquisitions and Marketing at Gravitas Ventures, where she played an integral role in the growth of the new paradigm for film distribution. Prior to Gravitas, Melanie was the Artistic Director of the Jackson Hole Film Institute.
Raphael Rice is a commercial and feature film editor. His former career in social services is his secret weapon that guides his balance of lofty artistic goals and rewarding collaborations with directors and producers. Recent career highlights include a Usain Bolt video for Puma which got over 100,000 hits in one hour, and cutting the feature length documentary, DUKALE’S DREAM.
Eric Freidenberg is a commercial and film editor. His commercial credits include spots for Toyota, AT&T, AMC, Snickers, and Dodge. He has also edited numerous featurettes and branded content spots for Nissan, IBM, HBO, Funny or Die, Lady Gaga, and USA Networks. Eric edited the feature length documentary, DUKALE’S DREAM, featuring Hugh Jackman.
Kelly DeVine is an Impact Producer and Artistic Director of the Global Peace Film Festival since 2006 where she curates films with local, national, and international groups, creating a community-centered hub that educates and inspires, while providing the resources to citizens to become agents of change. She has consulted on impact campaigns for award-winning documentaries including BULLY, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, REVOLUTIONARY OPTIMISTS, among others. Kelly has consulted for FilmBuff and the Tribeca Film Institute, and was a key member of IFC TV’s acquisitions team for nearly eight years.
Jordon Rothstein is a composer, singer, songwriter from the band Mascot’s Distance, an Alternative-Jazz-Folk-Pop band.. His song,“Hey Girl,” performed by John Legend has received over 3/4 of a Million views on YouTube. Jordon scored the music for his brother Josh's previous feature length documentary, "3 Points", about the plight of Darfur refugees. Jordon has been featured in Time Out New York and worked with a lot of talented people over the past few years, including artists such as Taye Diggs, Dan the Automator, Allie Moss(of the Ingrid Michaelson band), Russell Simins (of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), Ian Gillan (of Deep Purple), and actors Karen Allen and Brittany Murphy.