My family came to the US as refugees, says George Clooney

We must do more for victims of war and persecution, says film star, who reveals his own ancestors flight from famine-ravaged Ireland

Refugees are people, just like you and me, George Clooney has said in a speech urging humanity to do more to help those escaping war and persecution.

The Oscar-winning actor opened up over his own ancestors struggles in fleeing the famine in Ireland in the 19th century and called on people to believe they could make a difference.

The simple truth is that all of us here tonight are the result of someones act of kindness. We all stand on the shoulders of good people who didnt look away when we were in need, Clooney told a humanitarian conference in Yerevan, Armenia.

The Clooney family fled a famine in Ireland to come to the United States where their very survival required a room, a meal, a helping hand. We call them refugees, but theyre just people, like you and me.

And if you stand right in front of them and take a look deep into their eyes, you might just see an Irish farmer fleeing a famine. If we are to survive as a people, we simply cant look away. Not from the people of Syria or South Sudan or the Congo.

About 4.8 million people have fled Syria since civil war broke out in 2011, according to UN figures.

The actor has previously produced documentaries on the Darfur conflict in Sudan and said on Saturday that he combated the suffocation of fame with human rights activism.

Clooney was in Armenia to present the Aurora prize, an award held to recognise those who put themselves at risk to save the lives of others.

He handed the inaugural award to Marguerite Barankitse, who saved the lives of 30,000 children during the Burundi civil war. She was personally given $100,000 (70,000) and awarded a $1m (700,000) grant to donate to a charity or organisation that has inspired her.

Barankitse, 59, known as Maggie, was heralded as extraordinary by Clooney, who said all the finalists were people who make the world a better place.

She helped children who were left orphans during the civil war in Burundi between the Tutsiand Hutu populations. At the height of the war in 1993, Barankitse, a Tutsi, sheltered a group of Hutus at the Catholic diocese where she worked.

The actor said Barankitse served as a reminder of the impact that one person can have even when encountering seemingly insurmountable persecution and injustice.

He added: By recognising Marguerites courage, commitment and sacrifice, I am hopeful that she can also inspire each one of us to think about what we can do to stand up on behalf of those whose rights are abused and are in most need of our solidarity or support.

Barankitse said she would use the grant to further her work in the region at a time when violence has erupted in Burundi once more. Last year, she was forced to flee again to Rwanda, but she said she remained positive. I am a very optimistic person and my dreams remain my dreams. When you have these values of compassion, nothing can stop you.

Barankitse called on the international community to stand with her over the current crisis and said she would travel to the Netherlands to protest and demonstrate at The Hague.

Among the finalists for the Aurora prize was an American doctor, Tom Catena, the only permanent surgeon responsible for more than half a million people in Sudans conflicted border area with South Sudan.

Also nominated was Syeda Ghulam Fatima, a Pakistani activist who survived attempts on her life during her campaign to liberate bonded labourers, and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Togolese priest providing refuge to both sides of a civil war in Central African Republic.

Clooney, who is visiting Armenia for the first time, earlier joined the president, Serzh Sargsyan, in a solemn memorial service remembering the events of 1915, when Armenia claims the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million of its people. Turkey strongly disputes claims that the events were a genocide and the figures stated.

During the prize ceremony, Clooney called for the world to recognise the Armenian genocide.

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Jodie Foster admits to being ‘a little sick’ of discussing women in Hollywood

The actor said she wants a more complex conversation on representation in film, citing Jonathan Demme as her best experience working with a female director

Studios still see women as a risk and Im not really sure why, said Jodie Foster, addressing the lack of female representation behind the lens in Hollywood.

Speaking with director Julie Taymor during a panel at the Tribeca film festival in New York on Wednesday, Foster admitted to being a little sick of discussing the topic in a public forum, while warning that we dont want to ignore it either.

Its been a very long time that there were not a lot of women film-makers, its not just today, Foster said, adding that faster advancements had been made in Europe and especially in television. The more the financial risk, the less risky studios can be, and I dont think its a plot.

Asked by an audience member why she was tired of debating why women are rarely afforded the opportunity to direct mainstream studio films (a recent report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University found that women directed just 7% of Hollywoods top 250 films in 2014), Foster said the discussion had become too simplistic.

I feel like the issue is way more complicated than saying, Why arent women making big mainstream franchises? she said.

Having been around and making movies for 50 years, the issues are way more complicated than the dialogue, Foster added. There are so many reasons. Some of them are about our psychology, our financial world, the global economy, any number of things. There are so many answers to that question that go back hundreds of years. It would be nice to have a more complex conversation and to be able to look at it as more than just a quota.

Foster stressed that reasoning behind her industrys troubling lack of diversity is not as cut-and-dry as everyone thinks it is.

I dont think its a plot to keep women down collectively, Foster said. Its a bunch of people that werent thinking about it, including a lot of female executives who have risen to the top and have not made a dent in [securing opportunities for women film-makers.]

Foster, who has directed four films, also spoke on what she believes to be leadership styles that separate female directors from male ones.

She said: Sometimes its hard for people to understand how to treat me as a leader because theyre sometimes waiting for me to punch them in the face, or sometimes theyre waiting for me to say, Oh gee, you sound so smart, why dont I just do it your way? Im neither one or the other, and sometimes its confusing for people Do you treat them the way you treat men? Maybe you dont because we have different leadership styles.

Foster has only worked with one fellow female director in her acting career (Mary Lambert, who directed her in the 1987 film Siesta), so when asked to cite her best experience working with a female director, Foster opted for Jonathan Demme, who made The Silence of the Lambs.

He was able to see that Silence Of The Lambs is about a woman, Foster explained. The film was informed by that. Its why the film is not filled with gratuitous violence. Its why, yes, it was horrifying and difficult to watch in some ways, but hes the brave heart of that womans voice.

Foster didnt direct a movie until 1991s Little Man Tate, but said the bug bit much earlier, while doing a part on the TV series The Courtship of Eddies Father in the early 70s. It was with Bill Bixby and he was directing an episode and my eyes got wide, Foster recalled. I thought, Oh my God, actors are allowed to direct! Thats what I want to do.

Since Little Man Tate, Foster has also directed 1995s Thanksgiving comedy Home for the Holidays and 2011s Mel Gibson vehicle, The Beaver. She considers the projects very personal films that in some way form a trilogy. Foster said her fourth upcoming film, the Cannes-bound thriller Money Monster, differs by being a genre film.

Money Monster stars Jack OConnell as a failed investor who holds a television commentator, played by George Clooney, hostage on live TV. Julia Roberts also co-stars. Although it takes place on Wall Street, Foster stressed that her film is not political like The Big Short and Margin Call, but purely character-driven.

Foster expressed a desire to return to directing smaller films, following her experience on Money Monster.

I really will be happy to go back to less of a popcorn movie, Foster said. It was a wonderful experience, but I feel like a lot of the stories I want to tell would be constrained in that format.

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Lana Wood: “An Incorrigible Tomboy”

sistersAs Plenty O’Tool she seduced James Bond in a casino and she posed nude for PLAYBOY, but ask Lana Wood to describe herself, and she certainly shies away from the term ‘sex symbol.’ “Believe it or not, I was an incorrigible tomboy as a kid,” said Wood. And like most tomboys, Lana never dreamed of becoming an actress, but when your big sister is movie star Natalie Wood, you sort of gravitate towards the family business.

In an interview with Jim Longworth she is reported to have said: “I think when you’re born into a household where your sister is already a recognized star and things revolved completely around the motion picture industry, then that becomes your norm. But I don’t think that would have been what I would have planned or chosen for myself.

I actually wanted to be a marine biologist for many years, but I was always working. But I like acting very much. I love meeting new people, even being uprooted constantly going from set to set. But no, I didn’t want to be a star. I just wanted to do my work and go home.

And though Lana didn’t want to follow in Natalie’s footsteps, her first film role had her playing a younger version of her older sister in “The Searchers.” It was a classic Western that gave little Lana a chance to be around all sorts of critters and one larger than life cowboy.”

Natalie Wood: A Memoir by Her Sister

Only Lana Wood could have written this most intimate record of her sister Natalie Wood’s tempestuous life and tragic death. A warm but unflinchingly candid account of a great star’s passionate love affairs, violent fights, stormy marriages, bitter divorces, and of her controversial death by drowning at the age of forty-three, stunning a nation that adored her.

Lana Wood fans will probably be interested in her experience on the set of Diamonds Are Forever, revealing an affair with Sean Connery. Ultimately, this book is also as much about Lana herself as it is about Natalie. Forever in Natalie’s shadow, Lana herself never developed her own life and identity, everything in her life is connected with Natalie in some fashion and she spends virtually her entire life seeking Natalie’s approval and acknowledgement.