Gearing Up for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Dear Friends,

Michael and Jackie have just wrapped up the final screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake at the Festival International de Programmes Audivisuals (FIPA) for the film’s European Premiere in Biarritz.

From Biarritz, they head to California for the film’s West Coast premiere at the 30th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

We hope our friends in Southern California are able to make it to the festival. The film screening times and locations are as follows:

  • January 28th, 7pm (at the Metro 4 Theatre 1)
  • January 29th, 1pm (at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art)

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival does not sell individual tickets, however tickets can be purchased in packets of four or ten (and are valid for all film screenings) here.

We will post again soon with more news from the festivals. We thank you for your continued support!

Warmly,
Global Arts Corps

European and West Coast Film Premieres!

Happy New Year to all of you from Global Arts Corps. We are very pleased to be able to begin 2015 with the announcement of the European and West Coast premieres of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake.

The documentary film has been selected to have its European premiere in Biarritz at the 28th edition of FIPA, the Festival International de Programmes Audivisuals, and its West Coast premiere in Santa Barbara at the 30th Santa Barbara International Film Festival, as part of their social justice competition. For those of you in France and California, we hope you will be able to join us for the film’s presentations.

The film’s screenings at FIPA will take place on January 21st, at 2pm (followed by a Q&A), and on January 23rd, at 3:15pm.

The film’s screenings at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place on January 28th, at 7pm, and January 29th, at 1pm. Both will be followed by short Q&A sessions.

Please visit FIPA’s website here and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s website here for the most up-to-date information on screening venues, directions, and ticket sales.

We continue to be honored by the recognition that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake has received and thank you all for helping us make 2014 one of our most exciting and productive years yet.

Living in the Spaces: A Reflection on Never Fall Down

Dear friends,

This is a second reflection from one of our summer 2014 fellows, Sandrayati Fay. As research for our Cambodia project and in organizing the Indiegogo campaign, many of the fellows read Patricia McCormick’s book Never Fall Down, which chronicles Arn Chorn-Pond’s life when he was a child solider in the Khmer Rouge.

“A good book is the precious life blood of a master spirit” – Milton.

Milton speaks to me as I peer out the window and read his words engraved in an old museum across the street of the Global Art Corps office here in New York City. These words resonate relevance today. I’m new to New York. I find that here, more than anywhere else I’ve been I’m effortlessly traveling through worlds. The city speaks many languages, body and tongue, and as a global nomad myself, I blend in a comforting awareness of diversity. When I arrive in the office I am in a space that is working to articulate the significance of diversity in the light of reconciliation and the power of the unification through art.

In my commute to work the past week, I’ve been reading Never Fall Down, the story of a Cambodian child soldier in the Khmer Rouge. The world I travel into through the writing grounds me in this chaotic city. Not that it is comforting, but it magnifies the reason why I am here today. It’s easy to feel small and purposeless in the concrete forests and the dense population here, and Never Fall Down traced me back to the reason why I am present in this city for the story relates to Global Arts Corps project in Cambodia, making it more real and urgent.

Arn’s life story exposes and confronts the extreme layers of conflict and amplifies the power that art and storytelling has in advancing individual as well as communal reconciliation. His ‘life blood’ articulated through his Cambodian English accent reveals a rare honesty in the darkness of war from a perspective and transformation of innocence. The light that he found in the darkness of his experience amplifies the significance of the work that GAC does. By confronting the pain of his past Arn has been able to move into a future where he is inspiring people to find peace with in their own lives. The significance of stories that have never been told is now heightened and I can relate this to parts of myself as well.

I grew up in Bali, Indonesia where only 50 years ago was the battleground of genocide. I only learnt about this in my later years of high school and when the bliss of ignorance was broken I was overwhelmed by how foreign I felt in my homeland and a weight was suddenly present. I felt disconnected from a place I thought I knew and started to become fearful for the future. The fear came from the unknown. The gap of not knowing how something as violent as genocide suddenly became beautiful touristic Bali was uncomforting and questionable especially because it is a taboo to speak about what happened. How is one supposed to confront something like this?

Reading Arn’s story magnified the significance of communication between generations and how much power lies in the simple act of sharing a story. It made me realize that, when dealing with the aftermath of genocide, the only way to be unafraid of what is to come is to know and confront what has happened and move away from cyclical decisions that may lead us back there. We can create dialogue this through art and that is where theatre and storytelling is key.

It is exciting realize that our generation can be connected the action of confronting the past. Our stories are similar, which amplifies the reason why we need to face them. Arn’s honesty has awakened these connections and speaks towards a movement that is forming in our present generation, a movement that will lead us into an honest and peaceful future.

I grew up on the same land
that only 50 years ago
was battleground of genocide.

Bali is Paradise.
Step off the crooked plane steps,
welcome, speaks the dense wave of heat radiating runway pavement.
flowing with a river of beings seeking bliss.
sun caresses skin and the scent
of frangipani flowers blended with incense dance
in the wind. Welcome, speaks the island.

In child eyes, we were drawn to the rides
of waterbom slides and skimboarding tides.
shaded by the white lies, of white shadows that they rely.

In present eyes, Bali breathes alive, the spaces still in sunshine.
Like Wongaya Gede at the foot of Mount Batukaru,
Pura Luhur pulses the awakening of ritual. And
there is no gap between art and life- we live in the spaces.

But what kind of space do we stand with?
What kind of life does this land know?
What kind of death.
The ground is wide with wounds that are invisible today.
Deep, deep, deep under.

But we are cloaked with the enchantment
of carefully carved wooden penis bottle openers,
inhaling bintang beers,
burnt shoulders,
and hot sand perfectly shaping back
to fit into the ground through the stripped hotel towel.
The same sand that holds bodies hostage beneath you.

1965 blood was shed.
From lines of the people who surround you today.
The lines on the old mans face under the motorcycle helmet,
are scars carrying weight unspoken.
Present and heavy holding.
Our young new minds don’t know, for stories are silenced.
But their bodies know, for they don’t know where they are going.
Where do we go from here?

Always telling stories!
In dance, in gamelan, in ritual!
But never the story
of the killing.

Beautiful Bali,
your secrets are dangerous.
Wake up, wake up.
Then maybe we can seek bliss together
in our bloodstained rivers.

-Sandrayati Fay

Find more information about our Cambodia project here

After The Rain – Our Newest Film From Cambodia

Dear Friends,

Many of you have seen The Art of Forgiveness, the first film we made after our initial workshop in Cambodia with the performers at the Phare Ponleu Selpak school. The film documents much of the work that took place during our inaugural workshop in Battambang when our team of international artists and the young Cambodian performers first met and began working together.

Today we are sharing our newest film with you, After the Rain. The film features footage from our second workshop in Cambodia (in March 2014) and helps to illustrate how much these extraordinarily talented young performers have to contribute to audiences also struggling with legacies of violent conflict.

We hope you will take a look at the film and consider supporting our next workshop in Battambang, which we are currently raising funds for through our Indiegogo campaign.

As always, we thank you for your support.

Warmly,

Global Arts Corps

News from the Woodstock Film Festival

Hello Friends,

In mid-October, we celebrated the US premiere of Global Arts Corps’ documentary film, A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake, at the Woodstock Film Festival. We were honored to receive two awards: Honorable Mention for Best Feature Documentary Film, directed by Michael Lessac; and Honorable Mention for the James Lyons Award for Best Editing of a Feature Documentary Film by Joel Plotch.

Hugh Masekela joined us in Woodstock for both the screening and a panel discussion with Michael Lessac, entitled “Music as a Unifying Force.” 

Hugh Masekela (A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake) signing in at 2014 Woodstock Film Festival. (Photo by Laura Revercomb)

Hugh Masekela (A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake) signing in at 2014 Woodstock Film Festival. (Photo by Laura Revercomb)

In South Africa, the documentary was screened last week at the Durban Holocaust Centre, in partnership with the Hate Crimes Working Group South Africa. Truth in Translation cast member Thembi Mtshali-Jones joined a panel discussion after the film with Fanie du Toit, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

Thank you all for your continued support of our work, and please stay tuned for updates on future screenings and events.

Warmly,
Global Arts Corps 

Hugh Masekela at the panel discussion. Photo courtesy of the Woodstock Film Festival, Taken by Bill Barrett

Hugh Masekela at the panel discussion. Photo courtesy of the Woodstock Film Festival, Taken by Bill Barrett

Michael Lessac at the panel discussion. Photo courtesy of the Woodstock Film Festival, Taken by Bill Barrett

Michael Lessac at the panel discussion. Photo courtesy of the Woodstock Film Festival, Taken by Bill Barrett

US Premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival

Dear Friends,

Global Arts Corps is very pleased to announce that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake (the documentary film on the Truth in Translation project) will have its US premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival, where it is listed as a documentary competition finalist. In addition to the two film screenings organized by the festival, South African jazz legend and Truth in Translation composer Hugh Masekela will join Global Arts Corps Director Michael Lessac as a participant in a panel entitled “Music as a Unifying Force,”presented by BMI.

We are honored by this invitation to share A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake in Woodstock. This year’s activities mark the 15th anniversary of the Woodstock Film Festival, which is known for presenting an extraordinary line-up of film, music and art-related activities that promote artists, culture, inspired learning and diversity.

We hope that those of you in the New York area will be able to attend and welcome you to share the announcement with friends. The schedule of events is as follows:

Panel: Music as a Unifying Force
Kleinert James Art Center, Woodstock
October 17th, 2014, 3:00PM

US Premiere of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake
Woodstock Playhouse
October 17th, 2014, 5:00PM

Screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake
Upstate Films, Rhinebeck
October 19th, 2014, 12:00PM

Tickets to the two screenings can be purchased through the Woodstock Film Festival website here; and tickets to the panel can be purchased online here.

We look forward to seeing many of you there and thank you for your continued support.

Warmly,
Global Arts Corps

U.S. Premiere of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake at the Woodstock Film Festival

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We are thrilled to announce that A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake will have its U.S. premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival, which runs from October 15-19, 2014 in Woodstock, NY.

Woodstock Film Festival Screenings:

October 17th – 5:00pm at the Woodstock Playhouse

October 19th – 12:00pm at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck

To purchase tickets to either screening, please visit our festival film page here.

In addition to the two screenings at the festival there will be a panel, “Music as the Unifying Force,” hosted by BMI with director Michael Lessac and composer Hugh Masekela at the Kleinert James Art Center on October 17th.

Find more information about the Woodstock Film Festival at their website.

Artistic Programs and Development Internship

Global Arts Corps is looking for an Artistic Programs and Development Intern! The details of the position are listed below.

Start date: flexible, preferably late-January or early-February
Hours: 10-15 hours/week
A stipend will be offered.

The theatre/conflict resolution organization, Global Arts Corps, seeks a qualified artistic programs and development intern. Working closely with the Program and Development Manager, the Intern will assist in the day-to-day operations of the organization, planning special events, preparing fundraising materials, brainstorming new ideas for online marketing, and promoting the organization through social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.).

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION

Global Arts Corps is an international community of professional artists who believe in the transformative power of theatre. Our aim is to use theatre as a catalyst for dialogue, as a way to shift perspectives, and ultimately, as a means of bringing about reconciliation.

The Global Arts Corps is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a small New York headquarters staff, which includes the Artistic Director, Executive Producer, and Development and Program Manager; our team also includes an Associate Artistic Director, Administrative and Development Assistant, and International Producer working overseas and outside of the office.

QUALIFICATIONS AND SKILLS:

• Ambition, and a passion for the Global Arts Corps’ mission with a “can do” attitude
• Excellent written and oral communications skills
• Familiarity and comfort with social media channels
• Experience updating website content
• Is a self-starter with the ability to work both independently and in an office setting
• Experience and comfort communicating with an international base of followers and supporters
• Have a personal laptop to use in the office
• Global Arts Corps’ office is located on W. 157th Street. Interns should be available to come to the office at least twice per week
• Sensitivity to confidential information
• A familiarity with FinalCut Pro and basic film editing experience is a plus, but not required

RESPONSIBILITIES MAY INCLUDE (but are not limited to):

• Event planning (making travel arrangements, reserving spaces, etc.)
• Conducting research for fundraising opportunities
• Assisting in the compilation of materials for grant proposals
• Filing, organizing, and data entry
• Maintaining and updating organization’s social media profiles
• Monitoring and reporting on analytics of social media channels
• Researching and pitching story ideas for blog and social media channels
• Writing and editing blog posts
• Brainstorming strategies for increasing social media presence and designing online marketing and fundraising campaigns
• Assisting in writing, designing, and disseminating organizational newsletters

This is a unique and exciting opportunity to learn about the operations of an international conflict resolution/theatre organization and to support our work in post-conflict areas around the world.

To apply: Please send an email with your resume, cover letter, and one short writing sample (1-2 pages) to Sarah Case at info@globalartscorps.org with “Artistic Programs and Development Intern – [your name]” in the subject line. No phone calls please.

End of the Year Letter from Global Arts Corps

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, then you have to work with your enemy, then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela

  Dear Friends,

Like many around the world, we at Global Arts Corps mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela.  His legacy has been and continues to be an inspiration to our work.  His ideas prompted the question we first asked when we initiated Truth in Translation and still ask today:  Can we forgive the past to survive the future?

It’s been our busiest year yet — covering 3 continents! As we near the end of 2013, Jackie and I are writing to you from Paris, where we’ve just screened our Truth in Translationdocumentary film at Le Laboratoire, the unique center for artistic experimentation and design at the frontiers of science.  In November, we were invited for a similar screening to The Carter Center in Atlanta; followed by screenings in Kabul, New York and Soweto; and in Winnipeg, Canada to our Aboriginal and foundation partners in a new GAC project  — “Reconciliation Rehearsed.”

These screenings followed September in Boston, where we work-shopped and premiered our new production from Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland, Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead.  In February we will gear up with members of our South African troupe for a second year of theatre training for the Phare circus youth in Batambang, Cambodia.

In all of these places, and more, our work testifies to the power of theatre as a transformative medium for education and social change.   We have begun interdisciplinary collaborations with teachers and students from institutions of early to advanced education to complement the theatrical productions we “devise” with survivors of conflict. Our goal over the next five years is to solidify our role as a multi-lingual, multi-cultural theatre and film resource for conflict transformation and reconciliation; and as a thought (and practice) leader at the forefront of arts/science research into perceptual change for reconciliation.

To do so, we need your help, alongside that of our foundation partners across the globe.  We’d like to invite you to become Co-partners of our Cambodia Project with Phare Ponleu Selpak (“the brightness of art”) — the Cambodian Arts School that provides circus and related arts training to orphans and destitute, impoverished children.  This is a project that touches our hearts and where so little goes such a long way to heal and re-open communications between generations in this post-conflict society. In addition, the GAC collaboration will provide them with the acting skills to create a social theatre for circus, both for Cambodian and international touring.

Please take a look at our initial theatrical workshop with the young circus students and performers at Phare and witness their extraordinary potential in this short piece of film:

https://vimeo.com/62121947 (password: GAC)

The touring circus/theatre production is tentatively called “Landmines”. It will explore the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime by examining the silence that lingers between generations.  In Cambodia, as in many countries emerging from genocide, violence and conflict, communication between generations tends to be avoided. Out of feelings of shame, guilt and a desire to “move on”, Cambodia’s troublesome past has been swept under a rug of discarded memories and untold stories, resulting in an entire generation of young people who have little sense of identity and an overbearing sense of hopelessness and isolation.

The working title of the piece comes from the landmines that still litter the Cambodian landscape, waiting to detonate under the feet of unsuspecting passersby – an event that happens regularly.  But in this production, we are focusing on the emotional, historical and inter-generational “landmines” and the psychological consequences of leaving them buried for the current and future generations.

A major European human rights foundation has pledged half of the budget needed to continue our work with Phare kids in Cambodia, in February, 2014.  We still need to raise $40,000 from private donors to complete and film this workshop. We are asking for help to enable our work to continue in Cambodia. Those that help will be recognized as partners in the programs and on our website for the joint GAC/Phare production that is being created for touring in 2015.

If you wish to join us as co-partners in Cambodia, your generous tax-deductible donation will ensure that this production will be on track for completion in 2015; and will assist the youth of Cambodia in finding their own voices.

Please give as generously as you can. Donations can be made here.

A warm thanks to all of you for your continued support of our work. Amazingly, it’s been ten years since Jackie and I began this work with Truth in Translation. Many of you were with us very early on. It gives us great pleasure to let you know that our efforts are reaching a critical mass where real synergy is possible. We work in bleak environments…but we are evolving with a constantly growing group of enthusiastic performing artists who are committed to continuing this work across borders. For a more detailed summary of our activities over the past year and plans for 2014, please read our end of year update, here.

One of our challenges in keeping the momentum going on all of these important projects is finding the operating funds to support their development. As you know, most foundations provide program support. So we look to our friends and cause-related partners to supplement this with contributions that keep us working world-wide to teach, speak, screen, explore & develop new opportunities as we build new partnerships and map the future of the GAC.  Any donations to this would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for being part of our success. All of us at Global Arts Corps wish you a very happy and prosperous new year.

Jacqueline and Michael Lessac

End of Year Review of Global Arts Corps’ Current Projects

THE NORTH OF IRELAND / NORTHERN IRELAND

Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead

In September of this year, Global Arts Corps premiered our Northern Irish production—Hold Your Tongue, Hold Your Dead—in four workshop performances at ArtsEmerson in Boston’s historical theatre district. The performances came after a 2-week script and music development workshop at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annamakerig, Ireland, in July 2013, and a 5-week incubation period at ArtsEmerson from late-August through the end of September. Each presentation of the production in Boston was opened up to the local community and talkbacks were held after each performance with audiences composed of students, local members of the community working on social justice issues, members of the Irish-American community, and many others. In the discussions following these productions, what surfaced was not only a sense of shared concern of what is lacking between generations but a parallel shared history of North Ireland’s conflict with that of the 1976 busing conflict in Boston itself. To support the music of the production, we enlisted students from the Berklee School of Music to perform with our cast on-stage. We filmed throughout our final week in Boston and are currently editing a short film on the project that we hope to share with all of you in 2014. 

Stay tuned to our website and future newsletters for updates on performances and future tour destinations.   If you have the time, check out this ten-minute film we shot while working with young children in Belfast from both sides of the divide: http://vimeo.com/49385225

CANADA 

In November of 2013, we took the first step towards developing an original theatre production in Canada that would be created by a cast of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal actors, storytellers, and musicians and a group of local mentors, including “Elders”, to the project. To this end, with lead support from the J.W. McConnell Foundation and the Counselling Foundation of Canada, in collaboration with The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples, we brought together a group of stakeholders that included indigenous artists from across the breath of Canada, NGO leaders involved in formal healing and reconciliation efforts, youth, Elders, and philanthropic foundations, as well as performing artists and storytellers.  Over two days in Winnipeg, we shared approaches and exchanged ideas on how a GAC production in Canada could extend the work already being done; become part of the legacy of Canada’s own Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and how we might use our global experience to create a national touring production built around the multiple truths, languages and cultures that both divide and strengthen collective consciousness in Canada today. We are working toward building a consortium of Canadian foundations to support this large project over the next three years.

SOUTH AFRICA 

Global Arts Corps, in collaboration with master teachers of the Arthur Lessac Institute of Voice and Speech, presented a ten-day workshop in South Africa, which included students and teachers from local South African townships, three actors from our Northern Irish company, former cast members of the Truth in Translation company of South Africa, and special invited artists from the United States. The workshop was a tremendous success, and we look forward to incorporating teachings from the Lessac Institute in our future productions and to organization future workshops.

KOSOVO

The first international gathering of Global Arts Corps artists and supporters from eight countries around the world

In July 2012, Global Arts Corps brought together actors from Albania, Serbia, Bosnia, South Africa, France, the USA, Kosovo, and Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland to participate in a 2-day workshop in Prizren, Kosovo. Over the two days, we shared our storytelling and ensemble-building exercises and discussed the future of applied theatre in the area of conflict resolution, identity, and the use of conflict transformation to prepare for the future. We worked with simultaneous translators throughout the discussions and brought shared a rough cut of Truth in Translation with audience members from eight different cultures. This event was tremendously exciting for us, as it constituted the first of what we hope will be many more such gatherings of Global Arts Corps artists across borders. Following the workshop, we were able to bring three of our cast members from our Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland cast to South Africa for the work described above, and we have just finalized plans to bring one of the Albanian actors who joined us in Kosovo with us to work with the Phare Ponleu Selpak in February, along with members of our South African cast.

CAMBODIA

In February 2013, we will be traveling with three members of our Truth in Translation cast and one actor from our Kosovo project to Battambang, Cambodia, where we will be conducting our second workshop with the youth of the Phare Ponleu Selpak (“the brightness of art”)—the Cambodian Arts School that provides circus and related arts training to orphans and destitute, impoverished children.

Please take a look at our initial theatrical workshop with the young circus students and performers at Phare and witness their extraordinary potential in this short piece of film:

https://vimeo.com/62121947 (password: GAC)

The touring circus/theatre production is tentatively called “Landmines”. It will explore the legacy of the Khmer Rouge regime by examining the silence that lingers between generations.  In Cambodia, as in many countries emerging from genocide, violence and conflict, communication between generations tends to be avoided. Out of feelings of shame, guilt and a desire to “move on”, Cambodia’s troublesome past has been swept under a rug of discarded memories and untold stories, resulting in an entire generation of young people who have little sense of identity and an overbearing sense of hopelessness and isolation. The working title of the piece comes from the landmines that still litter the Cambodian landscape, waiting to detonate under the feet of unsuspecting passersby – an event that happens regularly.  But in this production, we are focusing on the emotional, historical and inter-generational “landmines” and the psychological consequences of leaving them buried for the current and future generations.

SCREENINGS OF TRUTH IN TRANSLATION – THE DOCUMENTARY

In the spring of 2013, we completed our documentary feature film on the South African project Truth in Translation. Since its completion, the film has been shown in private and educational screenings in cities around the world, including:

  • Berlin (DNA Gallery, in coordination with the exhibition “SEE New Perspectives: from Balkan photographers)
  • Munich (Robert Bosch Stiftung Annual Forum)
  • Kabul (Afghanistan Center at Kabul University, as part of the Transitional Justice, Reconciliation, and Peace International Seminar – Nick Boraine flew to Kabul at their invitation and participated in the four day conference))
  • Boston (Paramount Theatre, as part of our collaboration with ArtsEmerson while incubating the NI production)
  • Atlanta (Carter Center)
  • New York (Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights)
  • Winnipeg (Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, as part of our stakeholders conference)
  • Soweto (Wits University)
  • Paris (Le Laboratoire arts and design center, sister cultural center to The Laboratory at Harvard University)

2014 will see a number of screenings of Truth in Translation in New York, Washington DC and elsewhere. We’ve also submitted the film to festivals throughout the world and are waiting on feedback… watch out for newsletters and blog posts with outdates on upcoming screenings in your area!

INTERNSHIPS

A search has begun to bring into the Global Arts Corps College interns to work closely with Sarah Case, our current Development and Program Manager. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact us at info@globalartscorps.org. We will be posting additional information on the position on our website in the coming weeks.