Michael Kirtley’s Bio
International Feature Writer, Filmmaker, Photographer, Author, Communications Advisor, Non-profit Founder
Raised in Kentucky, Michael has spent much of his adult life in Europe and Africa. Thrice selected to the Who’s Who of International Photojournalists, he has written and photographed many feature stories for such publications as National Geographic, Newsweek, Time, Newsweek, Life, Stern, Geo, and Paris-Match. These articles have principally covered European and African subjects.
He has interviewed dozens of government leaders, among them former South African President Nelson Mandela, the late King Hussein of Jordan, the late Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, former French President Francois Mitterrand, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and former Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad.
He recently helped produce the feature narrative film OKA!, shot in the equatorial rain forest of Central African Republic, and released to high praise in 2012 in the United States. His current projects include producing and directing the trendsetting crowd-sourced World Memory Film Project, together with the Unitas Foundation in Estonia. He is also co-directing and producing a feature length documentary on the Western Sahara situation in Morocco and Algeria.
In the aftermath of 9/11/01, Michael founded The Friendship Caravan to nurture understanding among people of diverse cultures and to raise awareness about how global climate change affects people in fragile environments. In recent years, he initiated many exchanges between Americans and the people of the Arab World. He is also co-founder of Amman Imman Water Is Life, an American NGO to bring permanent water sources to thousands of sub-Saharan nomads.
Michael has created several major media events that attracted millions of followers on international TV and through the World Wide Web. Among these are:
– The American Friendship Caravan, a multi-state event bringing together political, religious, and student leaders to express world friendship. It attracted a media audience estimated at 8 million, and included a three-hour town meeting broadcast nationwide on American TV and hosted by Michael.
– Friendship Fest Morocco, a two-year rock festival in Marrakesh, Morocco. Including well-known Christian and Muslim music groups, the event attracted 90,000 people the first year, and 200,000 the second year.
– Earth Day Morocco, the first-ever nationwide celebration of the environment in an Arab or African country. It brought together more than five million people (including many leaders from Europe, South America, America, and Africa), was publicized worldwide, and stimulated significant change in environmental policy at the Moroccan government level. It led to accords with Europe to create a solar energy network in the Sahara.
In the 1990’s he founded The America To Africa Society (ATA) to create media events that counterbalance negative stereotypes about Africa with positive information about its people and culture. At its peak ATA had offices in seven countries, including Morocco, Senegal, France, Luxembourg, and the USA.
He recently finished his first novel, The Lakmy Book, to be published in 2013.
Over the years, Michael has been interviewed dozens of times in European, American, Arab, and African media. He is a regular political commentator on France 24. He is an International Honorary Rotarian. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and holds a degree in Psychology from Amherst College, Amherst, MA.