by Savitha C Muppala on  September 28, 2010 at 8:25 PM Lifestyle News
 The Many Faces of Facebook
At first, Facebook played a role in freeing filmmaker Michealene Risley from an African jail. Now, this online social networking service is enabling a global forum for her "Tapestries of Hope" documentary.

Risley will tell her story on Tuesday in an interview streamed online at Facebook Live and field questions sent in over the Internet by any of the social network's more than 500 million members worldwide.

"Facebook has been a big partner since they saved my life," Risley told AFP.

Risley said she was filming in Zimbabwe in 2007, with permission from the ministry of information, when she was arrested.

The authorities were evidently worried about the film project, which was inspired by the work of human rights activist Betty Makoni and the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe.

Risley said she was jailed and interrogated, with the questions strangely more oriented toward US life than the documentary project.

A producer from the documentary team posted word on Facebook that Risley was in custody and her future uncertain.

A news reporter who had been following the team on Facebook alerted a contact in the US government who apparently reached out to officials in Zimbabwe and helped secure Risley's release.

Risley and her team returned to the United States and the documentary was completed early this year.

Risley's appearance at the Facebook Live studio at the firm's headquarters in Palo Alto, California, will take place just hours before "Tapestries of Hope" makes its debut in more than 100 US theaters.

After her online chat with Facebook members, Risley is to speak privately to employees at the service.

Marian Heath, who works on policy and safety initiatives at Facebook, described the movie as "very powerful."

"It's become common for someone to find a long-lost friend, former love or missing pet on Facebook but this is the first time we heard of Facebook getting someone released from jail," Heath told AFP on Thursday.

"We thought it would interest Facebook employees to know that what they are working on can make a real difference to people in the world."

Information about the documentary is available online at and a "Tapestries of Hope" page on Facebook.

Source: AFP

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