FEARLESS JOURNEY


chris5

I’m an unlikely traveler. I travel alone with very little money in my pocket and with a loose plan of how I will live on the road. I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint, been sick in strange places, confused and afraid. I’ve met fascinating people who have become friends. I’ve had adventures beyond my wildest dreams. And for the rest of my life I know what I have to do and I will do it no matter what.

When I was 4 years old, I was diagnosed with autism. Doctors, therapists, counselors, and even teachers thought I’d be institutionalized my whole life. I could not speak, and instead of playing with other kids I would go sit in a corner alone. My mother insisted that I learn how to look people in the eyes. She made me speak. She made me believe I could do things other people thought I could not.

My grandmother sent me a red potholder in the shape of the state of Texas, and that’s where my love of geography was born. I stared at that potholder and realized there were other places to go and see.

Chris_Greenland

My family didn’t have money and my parents had it in their minds that we couldn’t travel, so all my journeys as a young boy were in my heart and in my head as I looked at the cups and glasses my parents found with maps of states and countries on them.

My favorite was a coffee mug with a map of Ireland and the British Isles. I wanted to go there someday.

As I grew up my ideas about the size of my life stayed small until the day everything changed. I was enamored by a beautiful Starbucks barista named Nora, and for some reason I was talking to her about my love for the world. She told me she’d been to Europe and I was fearless about saying, “My big dream is to go to Australia someday.” She said,“Great. I’m going there soon!” I was used to talking about wanting to travel. She was actually doing it.

All at once, I felt shocked, angry, worthless, and disheartened. That night I stared at the maps on the wall and cried all night, asking myself when it would be my chance to go to Australia, or to even travel at all. The next morning the first thing I said was, “I WILL GO TO AUSTRALIA!!!! and I will go by the end of next year. I WILL go!”

TherouxQuoteI had no money, no job, and we were on the verge of being evicted from our home. But I told everyone I knew and everyone I met that I was going to Australia.  Some people laughed at me. It reminded me of all the times I had been bullied as a child. But I didn’t care what anyone else thought, and on New Year’s Eve I said “My New Year’s resolution is to get to Australia.”

When I got a job stocking shelves at a grocery store I knew I had to make changes: no basketball cards, no junk food, no video games, no extra spending on stuff that didn’t matter. I ate only high-energy food, I spent as little as I could on laundry, transport, and to feed my pet bearded dragon. I saved my nickels and dimes and booked a trip to Australia for December and I was on my way! There is no “someday” on the calendar. There is only Monday through Sunday and the only way I want to live is to use up those days. That’s how it began. How it ends doesn’t matter. I’m on the journey.

We’re actively fundraising for this film with the immediate goal of $50,000. Would you like to join us on the journey? Here’s the place to make your contribution and join the team. Thank you!

ChrisCollage




IN HER HONOR

Every year, untold tens of thousands of women around the world are killed every year for wanting to work, refusing to live in polygamy, asking for a divorce, not wearing traditional clothing, wanting to have a say about who they marry, or for pursuing an education.

They can also be killed for reasons that have nothing to do with their own actions. Rape victims are sometimes killed by the men in their families to restore family honor. An older husband strangled his virgin bride in bed because he was embarrassed by his inability to have sex with her. A young woman had her throat cut when her name was mentioned in a love poem on the radio.

■ Honor killings are most often committed by the men in the family—by fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and cousins of the victims, sometimes with help from the women of the family.

 Honor killings are sometimes disguised as suicides by offering a girl the terrible choice of death by her own hand swallowing pills or jumping out of a window, or being killed in a more painful and slow way.

 Many women who are killed for honor simply disappear and are never even reported missing, because it is the families who have caused the disappearance.

 

IN HER HONOR focuses on three stories intertwined over three acts—a Christian story, a Hindu story, and a Muslim story. The Christian story is important to include in order to inoculate the film against being commandeered by anti-Islamic groups. The film will reflect the range of cultures where honor killings are commonly found, but rather than focusing on places like Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, or India, the film focuses instead on crimes committed in the United States, Canada, Germany, and the UK.

The three stories will not be similar events in different cultural contexts, but rather stories chosen to illuminate very different aspects of honor killings and the consequences in the short- and long-term. The film will explore the psychological and historical roots of honor killings but won’t rely on talking heads or experts to do so; this information will come through the voices of the men who have committed these acts. These characters will speak not only about their lives, their families and their communities, but the details of their crimes and the aftermath.

IN HER HONOR explores beliefs rooted in thousands of years of history. It shows how these beliefs cause a cycle of suffering and damage to everyone involved—for generations.

IN HER HONOR challenges the tribal, religious, and family beliefs that justified these killings over the millennia, at their very root. The film covers some difficult emotional territory, but in the redemptive third act will tell a story that shows a powerful transformation.

A man who killed for honor—and who we meet in the first act and see again seeming to defend his actions in the second act—will describe his deep remorse, his journey to understanding, and his work to stop honor killings. He now risks his life to challenge a traditional view of women that he believes must be changed throughout the world. It’s a story audiences have not seen before and it shows that we can change ideas that are deeply destructive. The power of seeing someone who has become a global bogeyman transformed into a figure for whom we have compassion provides the emotional power of the film.

 

T H E    D I R E C T O R ’ S    V I S I O N

IN HER HONOR will be faithful to the facts of every story told and will also use the best tools of fictional storytelling to serve the artistic goals of the film. Documentary interviews with family members and those associated closely with each story will be included, but as a relatively small part of the film. The audience will be immersed in the reality of what happened as it happened in a cinematic style that was used successfully in theatrical documentary films such as Touching The Void and Man On Wire. It also pulls the audience into the intimate psychological experience of others in the way Waltz With Bashir was able to mine the depths of the memoir form on the screen.

The scenes of family life in IN HER HONOR will emphasize the kind of rich detail that brings an unfamiliar world close to the audience—as was so beautifully accomplished in the Academy Award-winning Born Into Brothels. Even interviews and b-roll will be shot with the same attention to rich filmic detail, so that all of the elements of IN HER HONOR will be equally polished. The stories of the film will be dramatically illustrated using the highest-quality production values, including professional actors and wardrobe, full crews, locations, and a cinematic score. We’ll take the audience into the lives of people who have strongly-held traditional views that may be very different from ours, but who are human beings living inside the kinds of emotional dynamics of family life that are familiar to all of us.

The film opens with an extended family gathered around a table eating in tense silence. After dinner, behind closed doors, a daughter who is not present is being discussed. It is she who has caused the family’s honor to be questioned by refusing the marriage chosen for her. She is dearly loved, but because she will not change her mind there is no other option.

 

The voiceover explaining these events comes from an interview with her father. He made the decision to kill her, have the family hide her body, and make sure her disappearance was unreported.

For the first time, IN HER HONOR turns the tables by focusing on the untold stories of the men who commit honor killings. It enters domains where men are the final authority, women have power only to the extent of their support of male authority, and murder is defended with the logic: “A man is like gold; when he is dirtied he can be washed clean. But a woman is like silk; she cannot be cleaned and must be destroyed.

 

TWO SPIRITS


TWO SPIRITS

A Film by Lydia Nibley

Produced by Say Yes Quickly, Riding The Tiger, Just Media

More information at www.twospirits.org

TWO SPIRITS interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at the largely unknown history of a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders.

Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at sixteen by a young man who bragged to friends that he had “bug-smashed a fag.” TWO SPIRITS explores the life and death of a boy who was also a girl and the essentially spiritual nature of gender and sexuality. The film makes the case that in the twenty-first century we need to return to traditional values.


THE PRODUCTION TEAM FOR TWO SPIRITS

Rock music icon and political activist Patti Smith contributed music to the production, as did a number of Native artists who record with Canyon Records.

Producer and co-writer Russell Martin’s bestselling books have been translated into numerous languages and the television and film projects to which he has contributed have won numerous awards. The international television documentary, Beethoven’s Hair, based on his book of the same name, has been screened at film festivals and broadcast throughout the world. It has received three Gemini Awards, and the Festival Director’s Prize at the International Television Film Festival.

Henry Ansbacher is an Executive Producer of TWO SPIRITS and the Executive Director of Just Media. His film Iron Ladies of Liberia has been broadcast around the world and his film They Killed Sister Dorothy aired on HBO and won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival and was short-listed for an Academy Award nomination in 2008. His film The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009.

Editor Darrin Navarro edited Bug for famed director William Friedkin, and the film received the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. He produced and edited the documentary film The Painter’s Voice, also directed by William Friedkin, as well as the feature films Grace; Momma’s Man, an official selection at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; Hate Crime, an official selection at the 2005 Palm Spring International Film Festival, and numerous other shorts, documentaries, and features.

David A. Armstrong, Two Spirits’ director of photography, began his career in documentary film and has since served as the principal cinematographer for more than a dozen feature films, including the films in the Saw horror series. He has also shot numerous television productions including Crime & Punishment and Lyric Cafe.

Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designer Ron Eng’s credits include Coraline, Lakeview Terrace, Darfur Now, Bug, Vanilla Sky, Mulholland Drive, Independence Day, and Return to Neverland, among many other films.

 

More information at www.twospirits.org

HOLLYWOOD REAL

 In the grit and glamour of the neighborhood known as “Hollywood,” characters face the truth about their lives, and some rise to the challenge of changing them.

 

I DANCE MYSELF

When you see an elegant, tall, black man in his 80s dancing in an ornate palace in Venice, Italy you understand there’s an unusual story unfolding on screen. Bob’s father was born a slave in rural Mississippi in 1858 and Bob grew up doing the back-breaking work of picking cotton in the segregated South. At a time when black dancers were commonly not accepted into companies with white dancers he received a scholarship for one of the world ́s leading ballet institutions – the School of American Ballet under the direction of the great George Balanchine. He was also the first black dancer in the legendary José Limon company and studied with and served as a muse for the mother of Modern Dance – Martha Graham.

At the age of only 28, Bob was one of the most promising dancers in New York City. But his career ended instantly the day he was pushed through a glass wall and the tendons of his leg were severed and his body sliced. Even Martha Graham couldn’t see a future for him in dance and suggested he find another passion. But dance was the thing he loved more than anything else and so for a long time he was lost in depression and addicted to pain medications.

After years of grueling physical therapy and the struggle to be drug free, he returned to the stage a new man. He wouldn’t listen to what others thought was possible or impossible. He wouldn’t be distracted by the racism around him. He wouldn’t let others determine what his life would become.

Layout 1Bob sold everything he had, moved to Europe simply because he loved it, and used every penny he had to start his Afro Contemporary Dance Company and mount their first performance. He desegregated dance and challenged old ideas that white dancers couldn’t  do “black movements“ and that black dancers couldn’t  dance ballet because, as a noted critic of the time put it, “Blacks are unsuitable for the ballet since it’s wholly European outlook, history and technical theory are alien to them, culturally, temperamentally and anatomically”. Now it’s hard to imagine those words appeared in print in a reputable newspaper— but they did. That’s what Bob was up against even as late as the 1970’s as he worked to “dance himself.” Bob was gay and out of the closet at a time when that was rare. He made the choice to be public without fanfare or militancy–he just courageously and quietly claimed his pioneering place in the world as the man he was. He took on the pain of his time and transformed it.

The performances he and his dancers created had the impact of rock concerts. Audiences jumped up to shout their appreciation and stomp their feet in response. The work was a sensation and he spent the rest of his life sharing revolutionary dance experiences with audiences across Europe. He lived beyond boundaries. He encouraged everyone around him to discover themselves, live authentically and create freely. He began the richest part of his career in his 50 ́s and danced beautifully into his 80 ́s – aging with incredible vitality, power and grace.

How do you know who you really are? How do you express yourself once you know? Can you become a different person than who you seemed born to be? I DANCE MYSELF answers, yes.