A humble immigrant living the American dream leaves Columbia University to return home to Uganda to care for his brother who is dying of AIDS and realizes a devastating truth that changes the course of his life and the lives of the people in his village.
In the 1980s, the HIV/AIDS pandemic ravaged Uganda. Millions of orphans were left in its wake—along with countless widows and elderly parents who were supported by those who died. Poverty, darkness, and hopelessness spread throughout the country.
CORNERSTONE is the inspiring documentary film about the journey of Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, a humble immigrant living the American dream who leaves Columbia University to return home to Uganda to care for his brother who is dying of AIDS. When Jackson discovers the disease has overwhelmed his home village, he makes a decision, which will forever change the course of his life and the people of the Enengo Valley in Western Uganda.
The film, by award-winning director Debi Lang, touches on Twesigye Jackson Kaguri’s moving personal story, which inspired the creation of Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, a motivated, comprehensive, community-based organization that utilizes a unique holistic approach to not only combat hunger, illness and poverty, but also to educate children, create financial independence, and empower girls and women.
Jackson’s work with Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project has earned him the respect of humanitarians worldwide including the United Nations. He received the 2015 Waislitz Global Citizen Award, was named a 2012 CNN Hero, is recognized in Time Magazine’s ‘Power of One" series, is a Ted Talks participant and has authored four books, including the widely popular "A School For My Village".
Recipient of 11 international awards.
Debi LangDirectorHearts In The Himalayas, Return to San Marcos
Project Type:Documentary, Short
Genres:Cause Related Documentary, HIV AIDS, Women Empowerment, Girls Education, Humanitarian
Runtime:42 minutes 2 seconds
Completion Date:October 31, 2016
Country of Origin:United States
Country of Filming:Uganda
CORNERSTONE New York PremiereNew York
December 13, 2016
CORNERSTONE World PremiereKampala
December 1, 2016
World Premiere, Africa Premiere, Uganda Premiere
CORNERSTONE Michigan PremiereTraverse City
April 23, 2017
CORNERSTONE Washington DC PremierePotomac
March 12, 2017
CORNERSTONE East Asia PremiereSeoul
Korea, Republic of
May 27, 2017
The African Film FestivalDallas, TX
July 1, 2017
Best Cinematography Award, Best Documentary Feature Nominee
Debi Lang is president and founder of Caring For The World Films. She is an award-winning photojournalist with over 25 years of experience in the film and broadcast industry. She has worked for a number of media companies including Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Telemundo as well as a host of production companies. Her background includes all aspects of video and film production. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Edward R. Murrow Award for News Documentary.
Following Lang’s final assignment covering the Iraq War, She founded Caring For The World Films, which became became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2009 it . Her previous humanitarian projects have taken her around the world to locations in Uganda, Nepal, Belize, and Honduras.
Her latest film, CORNERSTONE, brought her to Uganda twice where she spent 13 weeks documenting Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project’s efforts in the villages of Western Uganda located in the Enengo Valley. She is particularly proud of this project as she insisted the story of Nyaka be presented from the perspective of the Ugandan people. Many of the people who participated in the production of CORNERSTONE are from the villages you see in the film.
2012-Hearts In The Himalayas
2010-Building a Better Belize
2010-Behind The Lines in Los Encinitos
2009-Return to San Marcos
2008-Road to San Marcos
My approach to capturing these stories is not much different than when I was a journalist. As a director, I insist my team have a full understanding of the culture, geography and population. We limit the "footprint" of the production in order to avoid disrupting the operation of the mission or disturbing the fragile environment of the rural locations. We utilize the least amount of equipment and fewest crewmembers possible. I hire and train local people to assist on the crew. They, nor the organization profiled have editorial influence on the project.
Hiring people on location also is important to the CFTWF mission as a humanitarian organization. It offers a skills-transfer experience they would otherwise never have. This also allows us to obtain access to areas we otherwise would not have, as well as earn the trust of the people we are interested in learning about.
The profile organization only contributes to confirm the accuracy of events and to provide clarity when necessary.
As with all of our films, nothing is staged or scripted. We follow strict National Press Photographer Association (NPPA) journalistic standards and the team goes to great lengths to make certain all information gathered is vetted for accuracy. This should go without saying, however I have found in some cases, journalists and filmmakers stage and or recreate events without disclosing it to the audience. Many fail to confirm the information given to them, accepting "expert" opinions as fact without original sourcing and documentation to support it.
The Caring For The World Films team not only observes, we participate as humanitarian volunteers alongside the mission team (when possible). We do so with a critical eye focused on the work being performed. This gives us first hand insight into the reach of the mission as well as the impact.
This, in itself, makes shooting very challenging, as the volunteer mission is first priority and filming is second. As mentioned, nothing is re-created, staged or scripted and shooting happens when it happens, as events unfold. As you watch the film, keep this in mind as the cinematography for our films is breathtaking.
Every project has required multiple trips with the mission organization in order to uncover the real story. Usually the real story unfolds during the second and third trip.
Finally, please remember ALL of us who worked on this film volunteered. We were responsible for our own expenses and left behind jobs and family for weeks at a time. In post production, many worked around the clock 7 days a week for months in order to complete this project. Transcription alone took 7 months. The artists who created and participated in the production of the theme song "All I Want" converged in New Mexico from around the country and dedicated many sleepless nights to complete it-all pro-bono. The colourist and finishing post production team worked full time jobs then worked 10-14 hours per day on their days off for months to complete the finishing touches on CORNERSTONE-all for free! We did it in record time. Yes, we are a dedicated bunch.
I hope by explaining our methods it gives our benefactors, the profile organization, its volunteers, film festival committees and the public further insight and appreciation for the films we produce.