On September 22, 1960, the SS HOPE set sail on its maiden voyage from San Francisco bound for Indonesia. During that time, the hospital ship's volunteer personnel managed to train hundreds of doctors and nurses, open an orthopedic rehabilitation center in Indonesia and treat thousands of people suffering from cancer, leprosy, infections and malnutrition. A documentary film entitled, Project HOPE captured this first mission, and director Frank P. Bibas won the 1961 Academy Award for best documentary short subject.
Barbara Bibas Montero, the director’s daughter, has generously provided the film for public view online.
More About the Filming of Project HOPE
Frank P. Bibas, director and producer of the 1961 documentary, Project HOPE, receiving his Academy Award with wife Susan by his side. Frank P. Bibas, director and producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary Project HOPE accompanied medical volunteers serving onboard the SS HOPE for three months on its maiden voyage to Indonesia. While oversees and midway through film production, Bibas and his film crew learned the ad agency that contracted the film, cancelled the project and informed him that he should cut production and return to the U.S. Instead of doing so, he negotiated a deal which allowed him to keep the film footage in lieu of payment, because he knew there "was an important story to tell."
The film aimed to show that America was a good friend to the world, helping those in need. It also served as an effective fundraising tool. The film was translated into 23 languages which helped expand Project HOPE’s reach to secure additional missions to Vietnam, Peru, Ecuador, Guinea, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Tunisia, Jamaica and Brazil.
Although the SS HOPE was retired in 1974 the spirit of those first missions lives on in the film Bibas believed in.
Frank P. Bibas produced some 3,000 commercials for television and radio, for products ranging from Ajax Cleanser to Hertz Car Rental, throughout his career.