'LITTLE BIG STEVE': Winner of the Dan Eldon Activist Award in the 18th Annual Film Festival 2022

by Naomi Gledhill from London, United Kingdom

"[Steve] is an angel for these children, I can tell you, really."

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‘LITTLE BIG STEVE’ is the winner of the Dan Eldon Activist Award in MY HERO’s 18th Annual International Film Festival, and explores the humanitarian work being carried out by psychologist and humanitarian, Steve Arodi. During a visit to Kenya back in 2014 when making another film, filmmaker Tiziana Caminada met Steve Arodi and was extremely touched by the work he was doing in his community. She proposed that her team return to Mathare to make a film and so, ‘LITTLE BIG STEVE’ was well under way.

149901Tiziana Caminada (left) and Steve Arodi (far right)Tiziana CaminadaSteve Arodi was born in Mathare Slum in Nairobi, Kenya, which has a population of approximately 1.2 million and covers roughly 5% of Nairobi’s land. The 1.2 million living in Mathare make up 60% of Nairobi’s population, and the remaining 40% (a wealthier portion of the population) are spread over 95% of the land which makes up Nairobi. With such a huge proportion of Nairobi’s people being in such a small area of the country, poor sanitation, diseases and infections are rife. Both the mortality rate and number of HIV cases are high. Also extremely high is the rate of sexual and physical abuse, with as much as 50% of children facing this at some point in their life.

When Steve was just 6 years old, he decided to go to school against his parent’s wishes; as he was at school, he was unable to make money for his family through means such as selling drugs or through prostitution. Between the ages 6 and 14, Steve was alone and living on the streets of Mathare.

Now, as a qualified psychologist, Steve has decided to go back to Mathare, despite the fact he could be in a much better paid job. With his own earnings, Steve bought a small bit of land and built a school in the heart of Mathare called Happy Star. His aim is to teach the children of Mathare their rights, such as the right not to be beaten or sexually abused and the right to eat and have food. He hopes that if he can help instil self-confidence and pride, the children may feel able to say no to things that make them uncomfortable.

149902UN Event PosterTiziana CaminadaIn the beginning of the film, Steve’s profession appears below his image: guardian angel. Speaking to MY HERO, the director of the film, Tiziana Caminada said of Steve, “He is an angel for these children, I can tell you, really.” She also described his role as ‘not really a teacher, but a counsellor.’

After seeing a screening of ‘LITTLE BIG STEVE’ in 2019, a UN Representative approached Tiziana and asked if it would be possible to make an event in which the film would be shown to various members of the UN and the Kenyan Embassy. This was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but has been rescheduled and will now take place on October 18th 2022. About this event, Tiziana told MY HERO that ‘Steve is preparing to be a little bit hard,’ and hopes to open an important dialogue about various donations that have been made to Kenya in the past, of which, the Mathare Slum have not benefited.

Although the film explores many dark issues, Tiziana says ‘it’s a nice story, because though it’s talking about poverty it’s also talking about resilience.’ She found the MY HERO Film Festival when looking at various festivals to enter and was gripped by the name of the organization. Of MY HERO, Tiziana said, “You’re about heroes: This is a festival for Steve!”

When MY HERO asked Tiziana about any personal heroes she might have, she spoke of Steve’s humility, highlighting that ‘he never asked for this,’ and that ‘[they] asked him, never the other way around.’ She also explained that she has met many heroes whilst making other films (such as ‘Hell in Paradise,’ 2021) and hopes to meet many more:

“I still have hope. I’m not worried about the planet, I’m worried about the humanity […] For me, every person that is doing something positive; positive for the planet, positive for their family, positive for the humanity… It’s a hero.”

Tiziana has heroes across the globe but in Africa, her hero is Steve Arodi. He is certain to become a hero to many more when they watch his truly inspiring journey to becoming the guardian angel for Mathare’s children, in ‘LITTLE BIG STEVE.’

At MY HERO's 18th International Film Festival Special Awards Ceremony on Saturday 19th November 2022, Kathy Eldon (Dan Eldon's mother) introduced the winners of the Dan Eldon Activist Award this year as 'stories that need to be told about problems that need to be solved.' 

Tiziana Caminada was present to accept the award, although Arodi was unable to attend as he was helping victims of a flood in Kenya at the time. On this, Caminada explained that 'he [was] busy being a hero!' She thanked MY HERO for the award, and expressed that 'this festival makes us all feel less alone.'

Watch Tiziana Caminada accepting the award at the MY HERO International Film Festival:

You can view the trailer for 'LITTLE BIG STEVE' ://

About Dan Eldon:

Dan Eldon was a passionate activist, artist, and photojournalist. He was fearless in his quest to help others and in his desire to tell the stories that others were not telling. Tragically, at the age of twenty-two, Dan was killed while working as a photo-journalist in Somalia. His work has appeared in art journals and exhibitions, inspiring people around the world. Kathy Eldon of Creative Visions Foundation established the Dan Eldon Activist Award to honor her son's life and creative spirit. Each year Kathy presents the award to the filmmaker who best uses media to effect positive change in the world. 

Apply now for the 2023 Dan Eldon Award. Find out more HERE.

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About MY HERO International Film Festival:

The MY HERO International Film Festival brings together professional and youth filmmakers who honor local and global heroes working for positive change in the world.  Thanks to generous sponsors, prizes are awarded to elementary, middle school, high school, college and professionals in a variety of categories including documentary, narrative, music video, animation, experimental, and more.
To find out more about the Film Festival go to: /Films/festival

Join us on November 19th at 2pm PST for the 18th MY HERO Film Festival Ceremony, the celebration of the best of humanity. The featured winning short films shine a light on activists, peacemakers, environmentalists, humanitarians, artists & others who make a positive impact in the world. Congratulations to the filmmakers for bringing these important stories to life. Thank you to our prestigious Awards Presenters for their vision and generosity! Register HERE.

Save the date for the Family-Friendly Awards Celebration on December 10, 2022, at 10 am (PST). Festival winners and their heroes will be on hand to answer questions and share their stories. Short clips from select films will be screened. Categories include narrative, documentary, music videos, animation, experimental, trailers, spoken word and PSAs. Awards are given to winners at Elementary, Middle School, High School, College and Professional levels. Register HERE.

To view the 2022 MY HERO International Film Festival Program,
Click here

View all winning films online:


Page created on 10/19/2022 3:19:28 PM

Last edited 12/9/2022 4:55:57 PM

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