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This year we are thrilled to once again announce our partnership with the The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade, together with Camillus House & Health, Switchboard of Miami and The Children’s Trust, to honor the winners of the 2015 Malone Prize on February 11, 2016, in Miami, Florida. The winners are:

  • Lt. Donna Gavin; Head of the Boston Police Department Anti-Trafficking unit
  • Special Agent Nikkole Robertson; FBI Violent Crimes Against Children, Chicago Office
  • Special Agent Victor Williams; Homeland Security, Miami, Florida

In conjunction with the awards, 3 Generations will premiere our new short documentary, Miami-Dade Takes on Sex-Trafficking, showcasing the work being done in Miami-Dade County to reduce and eradicate sex-trafficking in this community.


Invitation - Malone 2016-v3

Additionally, The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade will present the inaugural Annual Leslie Sternlieb Advocacy Award to Nancy Ratzan, a leader and advocate in the Miami-Dade Community whose work and tireless efforts has helped bring the issue of sex trafficking to the forefront of the Miami-Dade community. The State Attorney’s Office will recognize Assistant State Attorney Brenda Mezick, Chief of Program Development & Public Policy for Human Trafficking, for her exceptional leadership and tenacity with the Katherine Fernandez Rundle Visionary Award.

Congratulations to the winners, and a special thank you to everyone who nominated the winners, assisting in the planning of the event, and participated in our newest film.

In December 1984 Glenn Ford was tried for the murder of Isadore Rozeman, a Shreveport Jeweler who was robbed and shot to death in his own shop, for whom Glenn did yard work. Despite Glenn’s assertion of his innocence and a lack of evidence connecting him to the crime, a combination of:

  • Inexperienced defense lawyers (they had never tried a criminal case, were being paid less than $3 an hour and were unaware they could request funding to hire experts)
  • The testimony of a forensic pathologist (which was later exposed as “pure junk science at its evil worst”)
  • Racial discrimination (from the all-white jury in a Confederate flag-flying Courthouse, at a time when legislation made it difficult to prove racial bias)

These issues led to Glenn being sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. While in prison, Glenn was kept in his cell for 23 hours a day and was not permitted to participate in any religious services or educational programs.

After numerous failed appeals Glenn was finally released on March 11, 2014, when new evidence emerged showing that he ‘was neither present at, nor a participant in’ Rozeman’s robbery and murder. At the time of his release, Glenn had spent 29 years, 3 months and 5 days behind bars, making him one of the longest serving death row inmates in the United States. Tragically, Glenn was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer shortly after his release.

After Glenn’s exoneration, A.M Stroud, the lead prosecutor in the 1984 trial, issued an apology to Glenn, and urged that he be granted the maximum $330,000 compensation available under Louisiana state law:

“In 1984, I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning… Glenn Ford deserves every penny owed to him under the compensation statute.”

However, Louisiana’s compensation law requires “factual innocence,” meaning that the defendant did not commit not only the crime for which he was convicted, but also “any crime based on the same set of facts.” The state attorney general’s office argued that Glenn didn’t have “clean hands” because they claimed he knew about the plans for the Rozeman robbery and pawned some of the stolen jewelry. The Innocence Project’s Kristin Wenstrom stated that ‘they [the state attorney general’s office] are coming up with new minor crimes he was never charged with or convicted of.’

The only compensation Glenn received was a debit card loaded with $20.24 upon his release, which was standardly issued to all released inmates, and he had to rely on donations to receive the hospice care that he urgently needed. On June 29, 2015, Glenn passed away from his disease at a home provided by the nonprofit group Resurrection After Exoneration.

Political Background to Glenn’s Case

Although a particularly extreme example, Glenn’s story is far from unique. Twenty states have no laws pertaining to compensation for the wrongfully convicted. There have been 152 exonerations from Death Row since 1972 and 329 post-conviction DNA exonerations since 1989. The number of innocent prisoners in the United States is unknown, but the few studies that have been conducted estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of prisoners are innocent. To provide context, if just 1% of prisoners were innocent, that would amount to 20,000 prisoners across the country.

Further, it is impossible to separate racial prejudice and institutionalized racism from issues surrounding both the death penalty and wrongful convictions. In Louisiana the odds of receiving a death sentence are 97% higher if the victim is white as opposed to black, in Washington State, North Carolina and California a black defendant is more than three times as likely to receive a death sentence if the victim is white. In 96% of states where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both.

by 3 Generations Director of Development Lindsay Gebhart

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.38.28 PM Click here to read the full impact report

For the past five years 3 Generations has worked hard to bring the issues surrounding the sexual exploitation of women and children to light. Our founder, Jane Wells, first began exploring the dark world of the domestic sex trade in 2010 and was astounded by what she learned. She quickly began capturing this world, along with those who sought to help or hurt those involved, with a series of short films that eventually grew into the feature documentary film Tricked.

She, along with the rest of the team at 3 Generations, wanted to show the world that these people’s lives were not simply the results of bad choices and/or drug abuse. These women and children were sex trafficking victims. This distinction was one of many our organization strived to reshape over time.

When I began my work at 3 Generations I was extremely impressed by the scope and depth of the organization’s sex trafficking campaign, and I was excited to help create a report to document all of the campaign’s achievements.

The report highlights and details the work done surrounding three core problems:

Problem One: The false belief that prostitution isn’t a problem and is a victimless crime.

The impact of our series of films, and Tricked in particular, was far greater than we had hoped and anticipated. A report commissioned to track media hits on this campaign between March 2013 and May 2014 identified 321 unique media hits which, in turn, generated 75 million media impressions. In 2016 Tricked will be distributed globally.

Problem Two: Law enforcement is targeting and arresting the wrong people.

There has been a demonstrable shift in law enforcement culture since 2010, more states have implemented Safe Harbor laws and we are engaged with District Attorneys and Attorney Generals through Tricked. The 3rd Annual Malone Prize ceremony will be held in Miami in February 2016 and co-hosted by the State’s Attorney of Miami-Dade and Camillus House. Both of these agencies are now working together to address sex trafficking in their area.

Problem Three: There is a lack of direct services to help trafficking survivors escape the life and transition out

We were able to make dozens of nonprofit partnerships and produced nearly two dozen short films featuring many of them.

We hope you will take a moment to view our full report, which you can download here. I am so proud of the work we have done and look forward to the work we will be doing in the future. Please let me know what you think at lgebhart@3generations.org.

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The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest in the world today and one of the biggest since World War Two. 11 million Syrians – nearly half the population – have been displaced and many are seeking asylum across the Middle East and Europe.  An estimated 2 million refugees have crossed the border into Lebanon. Increased security and checkpoints have left 80% of these refugees without legal status.

3 Generations started telling stories from Syria back in 2014 when we filmed interviews with Nasir, Yasmine and Sultan, three Syrian refugees in Jordan. We are proud to continue this important work through our role as a producing partner of the upcoming documentary feature Beyond the Borders. Written and directed by Sophia and Georgia Scott, the film is set in Lebanon along the Syrian border and follows the lives of four Syrian refugees and a German professor fighting for peace and human rights.

Beyond the Borders gains exclusive access to unknown stories in a region that is on the fringes of hell. The Scott Sisters have spent over a year on the borders of Syria documenting the stories behind the news reports. Beyond The Borders will be a reflection of the strange chaotic lives of the people living in the shadow of the Syrian war.

This is the second documentary feature from the Scott sisters. Their first film, In The Shadow of War, followed four teenagers born in Bosnia towards the end of the civil war. The film examines the lasting psychological trauma of growing up in the aftermath of war. Watch the trailer below:

The Scott sisters are currently on location in Lebanon filming and editing. The film will be ready for release in early 2016. Watch this space for more information.

By Lili Hamlyn

Tim Hetherington was a British photojournalist and documentary filmmaker who was tragically killed in Libya in 2011 while covering the Libyan civil war. Tim is perhaps best known for the Oscar-nominated documentary Restrepo, co-directed with Sebastian Junger, which chronicles a year with a U.S. platoon in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan. Tim also worked as a photographer on 3 Generations’ co-produced The Devil Came on Horseback. His body of work includes numerous photographic projects and magazine photo essays, as well as art installations, multimedia exhibitions and short films which included Diary (2010), a ‘highly personal and experimental film’ shown below:

Hetherington was an alumnus of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, which is where I studied for my undergraduate degree in English Literature. As an admirer of his work, I felt deeply moved by his untimely death. This eventually led me, along with fellow student Sara Edwards, to co-found the Tim Hetherington Society, an Oxford University-based documentary film and photography/photojournalism society, in his honor.

By running this society I not only became more closely acquainted with Tim’s remarkable body of work but was also able to meet those who personally knew him: his friends from Oxford, his photojournalism professor Daniel Meadows, his colleagues James Brabazon and Platon and his wonderful mother Judith.

Tim did not approach photojournalism with cool detachment or any misguided belief that he could be an invisible objective observer. Instead, he engaged with his photographic subjects on a personal level, and preferred to be called an  ‘image maker’ rather than a photographer.

In Sebastian Junger’s brilliant documentary on Tim’s life, Which Way Is The Front Line From Here?, we are repeatedly presented with Tim engaging in a chatty rapport with the people he’s photographing. In the film Tim states, “I want to connect with real people, to document them in real circumstances, where there aren’t any neat solutions.”

This is perhaps a perfect summation of his work and philosophy: It’s not didactic, and instead seeks humanity even in the most extreme of circumstances. Personally, I feel rather honored to have had the opportunity to connect with Tim’s impressive body of work and, through the stories of those who knew him, been able to gain some insight into this extraordinary man.

 

3 Generations if excited to welcome two new staff members to the organization! The first is a new hire, Lindsay Gebhart, who will be leading our fundraising efforts:

Born in a small Ohio town just north of Cincinnati, Lindsay arrived in New York City via San Francisco, where she cut her teeth in nonprofit work at ACORN. Since then she has spent the last seven years working in fundraising in a number of Manhattan nonprofits, most notably the historic Hale House and Junior Achievement of New York. She has an undergraduate degree from Kent State University in Journalism and a Master’s of Public Administration from Baruch College. In addition to caring passionately about human rights and the power of storytelling, Lindsay also enjoys working one-on-one with those in need by volunteering at a local homeless shelter and adopting animals. On weekends you can find her eating way too much at brunch in Brooklyn with her husband and infant daughter then only watching the first half of Steel Magnolias, wishing the movie ended at the carnival.

Our second new hire, Lili Hamlyn, isn’t entirely “new,” but was recently promoted from an intern position to the new full-time Media and Productions Associate:

Lili Hamlyn grew up in London and moved to New York after gaining her BA in English Literature from Oxford University. While at Oxford, Lili founded the Tim Hetherington Society, a documentary film and photojournalism society, in memory of the late Tim Hetherington. The society screened TRICKED during it’s 2013 film festival, which introduced Lili to 3 Generations work. She looks forward to continuing the work and mission of the organization by working in the media and production side of the works they produce. Lili’s love of film and television has lead to her spending much of her free time attempting to make her life resemble the work of her favourite directors.

Both of them look forward to working with all of 3 Generations’ wonderful supporters.

EPSON MFP image

 

As early as 1819, the United States government had policies in place to ensure the cultural genocide of Native Americans. With the Indian Civilization Act Fund, Native children were stripped from their homes and forced to learn the religion, language, and ways of their oppressors in the Boarding School Era.

Native children faced physical punishment for speaking their Native languages and practicing their spirituality. General Richard Pratt, the founder of arguably the most violent boarding school in the United States, created the motto of the Boarding School Era, “Kill the Indian…Save the Man.” If the United States could not commit literal genocide by murdering masses of Native Americans, they tried to destroy the cultural and spiritual ties to their internal being.

Generations later, the trauma is interwoven into our DNA, contributing to illnesses such as, diabetes, depression, and posttraumatic stress that run rampant throughout Indian Country. This trauma pervaded our communities, causing assimilation to white society and instilling fear of practicing Native spirituality, wrongfully driving traditional ceremonies underground. One hundred and fifty years after these oppressive polices were enacted, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 to protect the practice of Native American spirituality. With a revitalization of Native spirituality, came the revitalization of Native languages.

3 Generations’ upcoming film, The Dakota Project will shed light on the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara (MHA) Nation, who are faced with the North Dakota oil boom’s impact of environmental degradation to their ancestral lands. The film will showcase the work of spiritual leaders who are guiding younger generations to understand that spirituality and language are inherently tied to our lands, songs, and history. As a Lakota and Ojibwe woman, a graduate of Native American Studies, and an assistant to this film, I knew that to better understand the people of the Three Affiliated Tribes, I would need to learn their history, spiritual practices, and their languages.

Across Indian Country, tribes are working to revitalize their languages. Curriculum has been added to schools, immersion camps, immersion day cares, and many other efforts are celebrating Indigenous languages to keep our cultures thriving. The Dakota Project has joined in this celebration. Every Wednesday, I’ve taken on an initiative to share a word of the day and showcase a little of what I’ve learned from these affiliated tribes. As a student of Lakota language, I’ve come across similarities and differences between our languages. I am learning in this process that I am proud of my effort to learn from other tribes. During pre-colonial times, our ancestors of the Great Plains were multilingual and communicated across tribes. In my effort to share the vocabulary, I hope that it encourages our viewers and fans of our Facebook page to learn more the history of Indigenous languages and take time to learn from one another.

In case you missed it, here are a few of my favorite words that I’ve learned from the Three Affiliated Tribes. Take some time to learn a little too!

“Good”                                        “Spring” (Season)                                   “Mother”
Mandan (Nu’eta)                       Mandan (Nu’eta)                        Mandan (Nu’eta)
Shi                                                Wehinu                                        Na’e

Hidatsa                                       Hidatsa                                        Hidatsa
Tsạkits                                         Miawakute                                   Ikaŝ

Arikara (Sahnish)                    Arikara (Sahnish)                      Arikara (Sahnish)
AtíŝtIt                                           Hunaaneeká                                 Atiná

-Autumn White Eyes, 3 Generations

https://www.facebook.com/theDakotaProject
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/05/28/trauma-may-be-woven-dna-native-americans-160508
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16516865
http://www.mhasi.com/
http://www.mandanlanguage.org/
http://hidatsa.org/
http://www.arikara.org/
Freedom, Law, and Prophecy: A Brief History of Native American Religious Resistance by Lee Irwin–http://www.sacredland.org/PDFs/Irwin.pdf

Invite
PRETTY WOMAN (1990) RICHARD GERE, JULIA ROBERTS PRW 081

This past week, NBC’s Today Show hosted a Pretty Woman reunion in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary much to the delight of thousands of viewers and fans of the 1990 blockbuster film. For those who need a refresher, Pretty Woman depicts the struggles of a young prostitute, Vivian, who finds her prince charming driving, lost, through Hollywood’s red light district in a Lotus sports car. The man turns out to be Edward Lewis, a successful workaholic businessman. Vivian quickly charms Edward who offers to pay for a week of her time. In the end, Edward “saves” Vivian from her life as a prostitute while Vivian teaches Edward how to enjoy the life he’s made for himself life and the two discover they are in love.

These days, Pretty Woman is one of the most financially successful films in the rom-com genre and is widely considered a classic judging from the 25th anniversary celebrations. Nevertheless, I myself had somehow never seen it – that is until yesterday.

In preparation for my viewing, I did a bit of research. One of the more interesting articles I read came from Vanity Fair. In a recent interview in honor of the 25th anniversary, screenwriter J.F. Lawton revealed the ending to Pretty Woman before the film was bought by Disney and the ending rewritten. Pretty Woman was originally, it turns out, titled 3,000 in reference to the $3,000 Edward offers Vivian for the week. 3,000 does not end with Edward climbing up Vivian’s fire escape – rather, he says goodbye and they each go their separate ways. For Edward, that is undoubtedly back to his life as a Wall Street mogul. For Vivian, reality hits a bit harder. The 3,000 script ends with Kit and Vivian on a bus bound for Disneyland – a trip financed by Vivian’s week with Edward. Kit, thrilled with their little day adventure, babbles on while Vivian “stares out emptily ahead.”

Juxtaposing Pretty Woman’s happily-ever-after ending with J.F. Lawton’s original ending, the differences are plain to see and the effect of the film is without doubt much darker. It’s not surprising that when Disney sought to turn the film into a blockbuster hit, they ditched the gritty ending, one that is in fact more often the reality for prostitutes, for the more enticing fairytale ending. That being said, I don’t think the film is entirely disconnected from the reality of prostitution.

If you pay attention, you see the hints: the police man’s investigation into an alleged murder of a prostitute at the very beginning of the film, tourists photographing the crime scene, Vivian and Kit’s debate over working for a pimp named Carlos, Vivian’s explanation to Edward about how she ended up where she was, Edward’s lawyer Philip’s treatment of Vivian and the climactic ending with Philip attacking Vivian in an effort to force her to have sex with him. For the average viewer however, all these moments recede into the background of Vivian and Edward’s love affair without any context.

So here’s the context: prostitution is far from glamorous. 70% of women in prostitution experience physical assault. They are additionally 40% more likely to be murdered when compared to the average American woman and 60% more likely when compared to the average American male. Fortunately, however, awareness of this reality is rising.

In the 25 years since Pretty Woman was first released, views on prostitution have changed dramatically. Research shows that the vast majority of women do not select prostitution as a career. Rather, they are forced into it through physical and psychological abuse or enter the trade due to the constraints poverty imposes on individuals and families. That is not to say, however, that there are not women who do engage in sex work on their own volition. There most certainly are. Unfortunately they are vastly out numbered by women and children who were never given the option of making that decision for themselves.

Building on this new perspective, anti-trafficking activists and women’s rights groups have endeavored to change the language and the policing of trafficking so that women and children are seen as victims first rather than criminals. In many ways these groups been met with success. Aside from the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which is currently stuck in Congress due to debate over a piece of the bill regarding abortions, Congress has passed well over a dozen bills aimed at beefing up funding for law enforcement training and service centers just in the past few months. Numerous states in turn, have passed Safe Harbor laws protecting children from criminalization as well as vacating convictions statues which provide trafficking survivors with a clean slate.

Watching the film for the first time now was fairly entertaining. Gone are the days when anyone would use traveler’s checks to go on a shopping spree or a Walkman in the bathtub for that matter. Beyond traveler’s checks and Walkmans however, a far more serious change has is underway – that is, society’s view on the sex trade. In this light it’s unsurprising that Pretty Woman takes the heat it does from anti-trafficking activists who consider the film to be a blithe and tendentious depiction of prostitution. But does it deserve the flack we give it? If we consider the ways in which views on prostitution and awareness of sex trafficking have changed just in the last 25 years, it seems possible that Pretty Woman could soon turn from Disney fairytale to cautionary tale and perhaps even a tool for anti-trafficking activists. Fortunately, I don’t think we’ll have to wait until the 50th anniversary to see.

– Hannah Eddy, 3 Generations

http://www.newsweek.com/sex-trafficking-and-pretty-woman-fairytale-315927

http://www.today.com/popculture/julia-roberts-richard-gere-re-create-iconic-pretty-woman-scenes-2D80567587

http://time.com/3756689/pretty-woman-prostitute-julia-roberts-richard-gere/

http://hollywoodlife.com/2015/03/24/pretty-woman-ending-25-years-later-julia-roberts-richard-gere/

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/03/pretty-woman-original-ending

SEX trafficking

By: Isabel Stub, Social Media Intern

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act has had major bipartisan support since its introduction to the House on January 7th, 2015. The bill would create federal funding for human trafficking victims by imposing heavy fines on convicted traffickers. The entire process, from introduction to the Judiciary Committee’s approval last month, has been marked by neutrality in terms of partisanship, a testament to our nation’s collaboration when it comes to eradicating sex trafficking.

Recently however, one particular issue has come to light which may prevent the bill from passing. This week, Democrats withdrew support for the bill after finding that it contains Hyde Amendment language, which is a legislative attachment that restricts federal funding for abortions and other health services. This is a conservative partisan amendment to a bill that was previously conceived to be bipartisan. To compound the problem, the anti-abortion clause would remain unchecked for five years, instead of undergoing annual reevaluation.

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the group Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, released a statement, “No woman should have her decision about abortion made for her because she can’t afford medical care, especially those emerging from exploitation and in need of comprehensive health care like trafficking survivors, who are overwhelmingly young women.” These words resonate with a powerful argument that supports a more accepting and compassionate understanding of the needs of rescued sex trafficking victims. To restrict a woman’s access to choose what happens to her own body, regardless of whether a pregnancy is a result of rape or accidental circumstances, is based on fundamental lack of empathy and a denial of pragmatism. Abortions happen and will keep happening even if conditions are unsafe and unregulated. The safety of women is at stake, especially for those who cannot afford medical attention or who have already been ostracized by society by means of abuse or trafficking.

Regardless of one’s perspective on abortion, it is undeniably a partisan issue, which is halting the progress of the bill. It comes down to language. Senate Minority Leader, Dem. Harry Reid, took the floor on Wednesday morning to address the conflict, stating, “Today, the Senate is doing a good deed. We have a chance to address human trafficking. In this legislation that is meant as an outline to stop child trafficking and human trafficking generally, there is a provision in this legislation dealing with abortion. It has nothing, nothing to do with this.”

We need to demand action. With the oil boom in North Dakota attracting more sex trafficking than police and rehabilitation resources can manage, we need funding now and if the Hyde Amendment language is not removed, it gives traffickers more time to expand their business and destroy the lives of women and children. This is a human issue, a narrative told by people living in unfathomable conditions. But their voices cannot be heard. Write to your senators and expedite the passing of the bill without partisan legislation. Help victims regain their humanity.

Read the full version of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/181/text

Download the 2013 Annual Report

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By Jane Wells, Founder and Executive Director of 3 Generations

At the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz how can there still be Holocaust denial? My own father was tasked with documenting what the Allied forces found when they liberated the Nazi concentration camps. Survivors and witnesses are still alive today — many were honored guests in Poland earlier this week. While much of the world did stop to remember and mourn, I still ask myself what lessons have we truly learned? Today’s refugee crisis dwarfs that of 1945, and genocide has not stopped. “Never Again” just keeps happening and amazingly we are witnessing the regrowth of holocaust denial.

My father, Sidney Bernstein, was a filmmaker during World War Two, working for the British Army and later S.H.A.E.F – the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. For five months in 1945 his orders were to film the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, collect footage shot by the American, British and Russian liberators and create a documentary that would show the German people what had been done in the name of Hitler and the Third Reich

This project and the ensuing film entitled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was considered so vital at the outset that he was able to enlist the best writers, editors and experts Great Britain had to offer. His old friend Alfred Hitchcock came from Hollywood to help make a film that would provide “the visual evidence that nobody could deny. It was to be a record for all mankind”. It is not an exaggeration to say they anticipated Holocaust denial.

Yet his film was never seen, shelved in the fall of 1945 as geo-political forces changed priorities. He did not speak of this project for another 40 years and he was not alone in his silence. Witnesses, cameramen and documentarians were silenced, both by official mandate and by what I would call PTSD. How can we calculate the long-term damage this may have done?

Two films have been made to explore this strange episode in British history. In the first, A Painful Reminder, made in 1985 when the footage from the camps was first declassified (40 years after it was shot), my father’s comments about the purpose of his film are quite clear, “The film was not intended as propaganda. This was the visual evidence that nobody could deny. It was to be a record for all mankind”. Another interviewee, Rabbi Hugo Gryn, explains in the film, “the name Auschwitz didn’t mean anything. That which today is such a byword, at that time had no ominous significance for us at all.” It wasn’t until June 1944 when five inmates escaped that the world knew what horrors were being perpetrated in Auschwitz. First-hand accounts and newsreel footage were the only way the world got information. Then, as today, what happened when that information was known became political. The distinguished historian Sir Martin Gilbert explains that the Allies refused to bomb Auschwitz because a few British Civil Servants determined that information about death camps was “Jewish sob-stuff”.

Andre Singer’s Night Will Fall (2014) a contemporary documentary tells the story of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. Using archival footage and present-day interviews with survivors and liberators, it is an in -depth exploration of why the Allies, having initially encouraged the project later decided to shelve my father’s film.

In 2014 German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was painstakingly digitized and fully restored by the Imperial War Museums in London who are the guardians of the footage and the archives. It had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. The restoration precisely follows the script, notes and cameramen’s “dope” sheets from 1945. Its restoration brings a 21st century viewer face to face with irrefutable visual evidence of atrocities as if they had happened yesterday. Sequences showing Adolf Hitler are so strikingly “fresh” and clear that one can see sweat dripping down his face. He is brought to life anew. The concentration camp footage is brutally real. The filmmaking is skilled and under the influence of Alfred Hitchcock is careful to employ techniques that would refute accusations that the atrocities they document did not happen.

There are many tragedies within and surrounding these films. Obvious ones document unspeakable atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis. The issue of suppression of vital evidence 70 years ago and how that impacted history and those who bore witness is another. Today the question of who should and should not have access to this powerful and distressing material still lingers (the Imperial War Museums are adamant that the footage is too disturbing for broad educational use). And lastly we have to address the continued accusations that the holocaust and this evidence were fabricated. In the last few days I have read comments about Night Will Fall on my Facebook feed that included:

“It’s been proven there were NO. Gas chambers and that is a fact.” (sic)
“The Holocaust was a hoax”

With the persistence of Holocaust denial comes a renewed need for accurate documentation. As a social justice filmmaker I battle daily to tell the stories of survivors of crimes against humanity in an honest and believable way. This episode of my father’s history was the genesis of 3 Generations, the 501c3 organization I run. Last July German Concentration Camps Factual Survey and Night Will Fall were shown at the Jerusalem Film Festival. It was a complicated time to watch atrocity films in Israel, the Gaza war was raging, passions were heated and many Israelis felt threatened. As a visitor it was hard not to see parallels between the images from Nazi occupied Europe and scenes of devastation in Gaza. Since then many Jews in Europe feel at greater risk than at any time since the Second World War. Today I received an email from an Israeli who described feeling that his country has “become Europe’s whipping boy in some sort of pro-Muslim frenzy.”

Many people have asked me what my father would have made of all this. I can only speculate, but I am pretty certain he would have wished for a truly democratic Israel that respected the basic human rights of all its citizens. Whether that can be accomplished remains to be seen, but the message of his work as a suppressed witness and documentarian was clear:

“All we can do now is honor the dead and try to win the battle for peace”.

His words ring true to me across the decades, sad as it is that we still have to “battle for peace”.

 

A version of this article can be found on The Huffington Post

This year we are thrilled to announce our partnership with the The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade and Stop Sex Trafficking Miami in honoring the winners of the 2014 Malone Prize. Through these partnerships we are furthering our initiative to help end sex trafficking by working with law enforcement to recognize prostitution as modern day slavery.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

Please RSVP to rsvp@womensfundmiami.org
For event information, please call 305-441-0506.

This year’s Malone Prize award ceremony will take place on January 12th, 2015 at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, FL. To learn more about the Malone Prize, please follow the link .

Nominations close on December 19th. If you’d like to recommend a law enforcement officer for the prize, please fill out the form here and return to Info@3Generations.org.

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 13, 2013: Denver Police Department Sergeant Daniel Steele holds his Malone Prize. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for 3 Generations)

Filming the stories of Native American women over the past two years, I’ve been exposed to the high-rates of poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse that occur disproportionately on reservations. Listening to the women we have worked with, I’ve learned about their perception of their place in modern America. They wrestle with finding their way in the 21st century, fighting the legacy of exploitation, genocide, and abuse, while simultaneously trying to strengthen their connections with their spirituality and communities.

I’ve also spoken to a lot of non-Natives about their perceptions of American Indians, who unconsciously harbor harmful racist attitudes toward Native Americans.

My first encounter with the modern racism that affects Native Americans came a few months ago, when we were filming in an oil town in North Dakota. We were surrounded by international mining companies who had descended on the small town and were pumping oil out of the earth at incredible rates, with zero regard for their workers’ safety or for the town’s water table, which is no longer potable as a result.

When I asked two separate locals (who are educated and open-minded in most respects) about how they perceived Native Americans, I was told by both that Natives are “greedy”.

I could not fathom how the poorest, most at-risk segment of their town’s population was perceived as greedy, while all around them billionaires were getting richer by ruining their water, land and air.

It’s impossible to deny. Racist attitudes pervade even the most open and educated of minds. Native Americans face this modern racism, and in many ways it’s keeping them mentally ill, impoverished and addicted.

“Overlooked and Segregated”

Misty Upham, a 32-year-old actress known for her roles in Frozen River, Big Love, and August: Osage County, was outspoken about the depiction of Native Americans in film, and was striving to modernize the image of the American Indian. Many people, she said, are “trained to think” that Native Americans are either “symbols of nobility and spirit”, or poor, complaining, alcoholics, easily “overlooked and segregated”. Misty would at times go for years with out acting work, because of her insistence on only accepting roles that were honest portrayals of the “human aspect” of Native Americans.

Misty Upham at the premiere of August Osage County

Sadly, on October 5th, Misty’s promising career was cut short. After leaving her sister’s apartment on the Muckleshoot Reservation near Auburn, WA, Misty disappeared without a trace. Her body was not recovered until October 16th. In the meantime, Auburn police refused to conduct a search, despite her history of mental illness and her family’s concern that she could be in danger.

Her uncle, exasperated by the police department’s inaction, took it upon himself to form a small search party. After several days, Misty’s purse was located, which soon led the searchers to a cliff behind her apartment building. Misty’s body was found, with massive internal and external injuries, at the bottom of a ravine.

‘Auburn PD refused to help’

Although her death now appears to be an accident, accusations are flying that the Auburn PD bears some responsibility. Her family believes she was hiding from police when she fell. She had expressed fear of being taken into custody and committed for psychological evaluation, something that had happened four times since July. They claim that during previous encounters with Auburn Police, Misty had been verbally abused and harassed, which police deny, but which the family says they witnessed.

Following the discovery of her body, police Cmdr. Mike Hirman released a statement defending police response. In the statement, he highlighted that a “fairly clean” vodka bottle was found near her body.

‘The system failed her’

Law enforcement’s apparent disinterest in the missing person’s case and their subsequent statement suggesting that Misty was drinking at the time of her death have outraged her family and led to accusations of racial discrimination. Misty’s family has accused the police of taking “a cheap shot”, painting Misty as “a drunken Indian” before they’ve even completed an investigation. It seems questionable that the vodka bottle detail was necessary in the press release. Toxicity tests results were days away, and the only conceivable purpose of including it would be to diminish their own responsibility, or dismiss her death as stereotypical and to be expected.

Misty’s father, Charles Upham, charged that if it had been the police commander’s daughter who was missing, the case would have been treated differently.

It’s easy for the police, even unintentionally, to conjure up the image of the “drunken Indian”, and distance themselves from responsibility. It’s so much a part of American culture that we don’t recognize it as a harmful generalization. In this case, however, it may have cost Misty her life.

It should also be pointed out that despite being taken into custody four times this summer. The hospital, for some unknown reason, was unable to provide her the same medications that had kept her healthy before moving to Auburn.

The Auburn PD’s attempt to classify Misty as a drunk, mentally unstable Indian is an easy way to shrug off the city’s role in her death, and hope that her fans will dismiss her death as a tragic accident. This tragedy should also be treated as an opportunity to reflect on the larger issues facing Native Americans.

Misty was struggling, just as other Native American women do. She died in what appears to be a tragic coincidence of circumstances that affect many American Indians, both urban and living on reservations: lack of proper mental health care, tension with law enforcement, and society’s perception that a Native American is not worth our time.

Misty didn’t want to be used to perpetuate racial stereotypes. Her life’s goal was to bring everyday, modern Native American characters to life. She wanted to give people Native characters that were human and relatable. Let’s remember her as she would have wanted to be seen: not as a stereotype, but as a remarkably talented woman, with a complex past who lost her life too young.

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

Picture taken by Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

If Katrin Bennhold’s front-page article in today’s New York Times —Years of Rape and “Utter Contempt” in Britain — were told as a narrative movie, it would be considered too far-fetched to be true and would most likely be viewed as a hyperbolic psychological drama. However it is a news item and one subtitled, “Life in an English Town Where Abuse of Girls Flourished.”

Ms. Bennhold recounts a monstrous story of over 1000 girls as young as 12 being groomed for rape by gangs of young Pakistani men over a period of 16 years in a working class town called Rotherham. Even when girls came forward with parental support, the authorities chose to ignore the crimes, lost evidence and succumbed to the worst kind of victim blaming. In a staggering series of cases of police negligence, children who were raped were referred to as “tarts” and crimes against them called “100% consensual”.

It would be easy to imagine this does not happen here in the United States or that this is an isolated incident. Sadly, neither is the case. Nor is it simply a story of child abuse and rape. What is described is sexual slavery and fits our Federal definition of (child) sex trafficking. It also serves as an important illustration of the common misconceptions about commercial sex, outdated law enforcement culture around prostitution and sex crimes and the on-going battle to stop blaming victims for crimes committed against them.

Ms. Bennold’s article describes girls being groomed by young men who they perceived as friends or boyfriends – this is the most common way that pimps in the USA recruit girls into the sex trade. In Rotherham the sexual encounters, “evolved from personal gratification to business opportunities” to literal life–threatening enslavement, an evolution that perfectly matches the descent of many young people in this country from quasi-volitional sex work to enslavement.

Equally tragic and also prevalent in this country is the dominant culture that sees, and in many cases, insists that all this sexual activity is consensual. This ranges from adults engaging in sex with underage boys and girls, which, whether we like it or not, is statutory rape, to minors being “boyfriended” or kidnapped by pimps and gangs and sold for sex as prostitutes. The outcomes of these crimes depend almost entirely on the attitude of local law enforcement and their understanding of the severity of harm done to any minor who is sexually abused. Many people in this country (and elsewhere) believe prostitution is a victimless crime, one that it is here to stay and does not warrant time, money and focus by our criminal justice system.

My experience over the last 5 years making the documentary Tricked  about sex slavery in the USA unequivocally indicates otherwise. No one I encountered was unscathed by their sexual abuse. All still carry deep and lasting wounds years and decades later and every john who had purchased sex was insistent that nothing that he had done could have in any way harmed the girls and boys from whom he had paid for sex. In between is the criminal justice system – gradually waking up to the reality that sexual crimes of this sort are major human rights violations that need our utmost attention. Alas, way too slowly for the hundreds of thousand of victims out there. Katrin Bennhold deserves praise for telling such as newsworthy story.

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