It felt like a different movie…

A Note from Artistic Director Michael Lessac

Last Thursday at the United Nations headquarters in NYC, the UN Department of Public Information presented a screening of A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake as part of their observance of World Tolerance Day.

Following the screening, Nick Boraine and I joined a post-screening discussion with panelists from South Africa, Rwanda, and Colombia… Nearly 450 audience members attended. The conversation was lively and impassioned.

Watching the film on this occasion—in a room that formerly housed the Security Council and on a day intended to celebrate the fostering of mutual understanding among cultures and peoples—it felt like a totally different movie.

The film felt at once more optimistic, more complex, more relevant, more hopeful and sadder at the same time—its implications for how civil societies fall into division, the power and danger of language and how that language can seed potential for physical violence, how genocide begins at the breakfast table, and how normalizing can quickly tip over into violent conflict. But most importantly, it offers the potential for how people coming out of violence can speak to other people coming out of violence (or on the verge of violence); and see the lies and myths at the heart of a country’s racism and nativism, therefore implicating their own.

I am heartened to now see that this film is reaching out to new audiences at a time when perhaps more than ever we can take hope in the courage of others who have confronted the divides and denial in their own communities and are not afraid of their own empathy.

Plans are now in place to organize additional UN screenings of the film in Brussels, Vienna, and Geneva.

With adequate funding, we will complete our next film coming out of Cambodia in Spring 2017.

I hope you will join us in supporting this effort.

And I will leave you with this photo from Mostar in 2008…

…A city still struggling to reconcile 15 years after the Bosnian War. A famous bridge, once a symbol of peace in the Balkans, bombed during the war… Now reconstructed as a monument to a hopeful future. We were told that audiences from the 3 sides of the divide–Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs–would not sit together in one location. So we performed Truth in Translation on a platform at river’s edge for part of the audience; and projected video of the live performance into the side towers of the bridge, where others could view it simultaneously from different locations.