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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.


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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.

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.

 

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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

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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

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.

jerusalem 3

July 2014 was an interesting moment to be invited to the Jerusalem Film Festival. I was a jury member for the Spirit Of Freedom Award. We watched 10 impassioned and geographically diverse films exploring the search for freedom in Mali, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Turkey/Kurdistan, Greece, The Netherlands, Rwanda, Darfur, Syria and Bosnia. My fellow jurors were the celebrated Palestinian actor/director Makram Khoury and the multi-award-winning Turkish Producer Zeynep Atakan. I was privileged to sit with them.

In addition the 31st Jerusalem Film Festival screened two films very close to my heart. German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – a truly harrowing documentary produced by my late father Sidney Bernstein in 1945 – was never completed and not seen fully until this year. The Imperial War Museum in London spent years of painstaking work restoring and completing my father’s film. The inspiration behind this effort Dr. Toby Haggith, was present to explain why and how he and his colleagues had restored this forgotten work, and to put this very difficult document of atrocity in a context. My brother David Bernstein also came to put the work in familial context. Night Will Fall, directed by Andre Singer, is an excellent 2014 documentary that details why my father’s film was not finished and shown 70 years ago. It was awarded Honorable and Special Mention at the Jerusalem Film Festival and Sheffield Doc Fest last month.

These two films by and about my father’s work documenting the Holocaust, and the Spirit of Freedom Award films all speak directly to what we do at 3 Generations: telling difficult stories, documenting atrocities, giving survivors opportunity to speak of their experiences and in the words of my father creating “evidence for all mankind”. As the narrator of his film explained in 1945, if we do not take heed, “night will fall”. For many people across the Middle East and beyond it seems that this July night has indeed fallen.

– Jane Wells

 

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Remembering Alice

By Karine Shnorhokian

My childhood, like many Armenians in America and around the world, involved an understanding and a shared pain that something tragic and unforgettable happened several decades earlier to our ancestors. April 24th- the day Armenians around the world commemorate the Armenian Genocide- is a day not only of remembrance, but an ongoing battle to have the Government of Turkey take responsibility for these crimes, and stop their ongoing campaign of genocide denial. Whether it is attending a commemorative church gathering, protest, lecture, walk, or lobbying with members of Congress, April is an active time for Armenians. Year round however, we continue to seek justice for our ancestors and pay tribute to those who suffered and perished 99 years ago during the Armenian Genocide- the first genocide of the 20th century.

I remember during my youth, the first several rows at Armenian Genocide commemorative events were reserved for the survivors. The seats were filled, and during the night, these survivors were recognized, received flowers, and applause from community members. In our eyes they were our fedayees, our soldiers, and their stories were immortalized in our communities. Decades later, the first several rows are still reserved, but the seats are now empty. The survivors are not forgotten, but time has passed, and they have passed on. We read about their obituaries, and saddened to hear that the last genocide survivor in a well-known city has passed on. Their stories however live on through us, and although denialists- like the Government of Turkey- think that time will erase history, our Diaspora is too strong and too proud to move on and forget our past. We console and unite with others who have suffered genocide, and continue to educate anyone who will listen. We always find a way to tell our story.

My husband’s grandmother Alice was a resilient woman. Succumbing to illness in 2011, she was 98 years old when she passed away, and was determined to make her story known. In 2008, she made one of her final journeys to Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress to discuss the Armenian Genocide and the ongoing denials by the Turkish Government. She remembered her story clearly; how she and her brother rode in the side baskets in a donkey during the deportations and how luckily, right before the death march through Der Zor, they were saved. I was very fond of Alice and though my time with her was limited, I appreciated the time I did have with her. Honestly, I was quite intimidated when I first met her, being that she was a much respected woman within the Armenian Presbyterian community. I had heard she was quick to judge and had no intention of holding back her feelings. When we first met, however, we had an instant bond. Perhaps it was that we were both nurses or that she was excited that her grandson was dating an Armenian girl or she was fond of my extreme passion for educating others about our history. I knew she had a story, and she knew I wanted to hear it. Like many grandmothers, her cooking was exceptional, and it was an insult if you didn’t have seconds. She was known for her Sou Boureg, an Armenian dish made with sheets of pasta like dough and stuffed with a cheesy filling. She tried to teach me how to make it, and gave me much grief when she learned I did not know how to use a rolling pin.
So many people with similar ethnic backgrounds can relate to Grandma Alice. She was a proud woman who ran her household like a tight ship. She was well educated and was very knowledgeable on various topics. Always exercising her mind, body, and spirit, she went to Church every Sunday, had plenty of friends she visited with throughout the week, and she loved to cook. As a survivor of genocide, she wanted to tell her story and talk about what happened. She pleaded that the truth be uncovered and one of her final requests was “for justice of this great country and for the world to not forget the tragic suffering and terrible genocide of the Armenians.”

As I was writing my conclusion to this blog, I had an encounter that I feel compelled to share. It was a little after 1:00am on April 24, 2014, and I was anxious to get home from the airport after a long day of work and travel. My taxi driver was curious and asked me my ethnicity as I got into the town car at Newark Airport. Not even thinking twice, I told him Armenian. In return I asked him what he was, and he said Turkish. You could tell he was a little defensive in his response, however, very pleasant. Throughout the course of the ride home we discussed the history of the genocide, which he was unable to accept. He pleaded that he has never really “investigated” this topic. Whether it was shame, guilt, or the unfortunate consequences of the Turkish government’s forced teaching of genocide denial in public schools – he was simply unwilling to face the truth. Obviously it made him uncomfortable being that I was his client and the topic was sensitive, but it made me realize that the denial doesn’t just exist in Turkey, it exists here in America as well. For whatever the reason, it made me think of Grandma Alice – and her lifelong vigilance to speaking the truth. I know I will follow in her path. I, like so many other Armenians, will continue to be fedayees for our cause.

Watch the re-cut version of Alice Khachadoorian-Shnorhokian’s interview here.

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A few months ago, after returning from filming with Syrian refugees in Jordan,  I attended a small Human Rights Watch event where I met Lama Fakih, the Syria and Lebanon researcher at the HRW Beirut offices.  She gave a talk outlining her current projects, missions and goals.  Both my colleague and I were floored by her intriguing stories, her tenacity, and her remarkable eloquence.  Immediately, I knew she had to become part of 3 Generations’ End of Atrocity series, where leaders and activists share their vision for a world free of crimes against humanity.

Unfortunately, Lama’s trip to New York was short, and we didn’t have a chance to film her.  However, I couldn’t let this opportunity get away.  End of Atrocity needed an infusion from an energetic young person who is active in the fight against crimes against humanity.

Using my connections in Beirut, I found a camera crew, a producer, and set a time to interview Lama.  I had no idea how this was going to work, but early in the morning on a Friday in late March, everything came together.  My good friend and talented producer, Joe Mokbel, was on hand at the Human Rights Watch offices in Beirut and, despite Lebanon’s famously atrocious Internet, was able to video-call me using Skype. It was like I was there in the room.  We did a 30 minute interview, the cameraman sent me the files via an online shared server, and we downloaded them here in New York to cut together what I think is a fantastic addition to our series.

Take a look at the result: a powerful two-minute video of Lama Fakih’s vision for a world without atrocity.

Thank you Lama, Joe, and the whole Beirut team.

-Elizabeth Woller

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The slight 30 year-old can’t be taller than five feet, with delicate bones and pale skin.  But despite her apparent fragility, Yasmine is about to prove her strength.  She enters the small office where we are meeting for the first time with a timid smile.  We’re in a city in northern Jordan, close to the border, interviewing Syrians who’ve sought refuge from the catastrophic violence that’s engulfed their country.

Yasmine covers her face for our interview.  Her in-laws are still in Syria, and speaking to media puts them at risk for retribution, especially with what she is about to tell us.  Yasmine is from eastern Ghouta, which some will recognize as the location of the horrifying chemical weapons attack that put Bashar Al-Assad’s regime under intense pressure from the international community and the U.S.  Up to 1,700 of victims died in Ghouta on August 21st, 2013, including hundreds of children and babies.  Her own husband was killed by the gas while trying to take a neighbor’s son to the hospital.  Yasmine tries to describe the chaos and death, calling that night “Judgment Day”.  She and her two children escaped the non-stop shelling and managed to find their way to Jordan.

Six months later, she’s still ravaged by grief, but hasn’t allowed herself to be weighed down with anger at the unfairness of her husband’s death.  Instead, every day she goes to work, recording the deaths of refugees family members.  The organization she is part of has amassed a catalog of thousands of deaths, complete with photos of injuries and detailed descriptions of the event.  They aim to collect this evidence so Bashar can be put on trial and will have no way to deny his crimes.  To the hundreds of refugees in Jordan that she’s helped, Yasmine is a blessing.  There is relief in knowing that the deaths of their loved ones are being recorded and acknowledged, and will not be forgotten if their killer is tried.  Despite her own losses, she is helping an entire community cope with theirs.

Help give Yasmine a platform to tell her story.  Donate to our project.

Yasmine cuYasmine
John-Keith Wasson and Jutta

John-Keith Wasson and Jutta discuss Surviving Hitler: A Love Story

By: John-Keith Wasson

I was in Kigali for the 12th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. It was my first time, and hopefully my last time, witnessing a mass burial of unknown genocide victims.

After the ceremony, a Holocaust survivor shared his story. For several teenagers, it was a momentous speech: it was the first time that they realized genocide had occurred elsewhere in the world. Genocide wasn’t just Rwanda’s problem.

Two weeks later, I began my first documentary, SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY. The film focused on Jutta, a teenager in Nazi Germany who discovered that she was Jewish. She joined the German resistance and met Helmuth, an injured soldier. The two became sweethearts and co-conspirators in the final plot to assassinate Hitler.

It’s a harrowing tale of war, resistance, and survival, but at the center of the documentary is a love story for the ages, with riveting narration by Jutta herself, original 8mm footage (shot by Helmuth) and, miraculously, a happy ending.

SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY enjoyed a successful festival run and aired on over a dozen TV stations including the BBC. Jutta’s main message was well received: stand up to evil– that and a little luck can change the world. With Jutta’s encouragement in mind, I set out to find a contemporary human rights story.

Jane and I met during that remarkable trip to Rwanda. While I went off to make a documentary, she set up 3 Generations. In 2011 we decided to join forces on TRICKED.

During the course of filming, the landscape of domestic sex trafficking evolved: computer solicitations turned into smart phones apps, Craigslist was replaced by Backpage, and plea bargains turned into multiyear sentences. We didn’t have the advantage of historians, time, or distance to offer perspective. Domestic sex trafficking was happening here, in America. We were chasing a moving target.

When I look back at how SURVIVING HITLER: A LOVE STORY influenced TRICKED, I realize that both films focus on people who struggle against evil. In WWII the evils happened to be well defined and Jutta lucked into a Hollywood ending. Meanwhile, sex trafficking has no ending. In fact, we’re only just reaching the first critical turning point.

Over the course of filming, Jane and I noticed a few promising changes. Press coverage, public awareness, and the culture of law enforcement all showed signs of improvement. There is real progress. It’s just slow. I hope TRICKED does its part to further the national dialogue.

In the words of Jutta, “Stand up against evil—that and a little luck can change the world.”

 

Interested in seeing TRICKED? The film will run from Dec. 13th-19th at the Quad Cinema in NYC. Check out the Quad Cinema’s listings on movietickets.com. Admission is free for law enforcement with ID.

To purchase VIP Premiere tickets for the 7pm showing, please go to our donation page. We hope to see you there!

Billy Mills (far left) crosses the finish line.

Billy Mills (far left) crosses the finish line.

By: Dawn Bjoraker, Lakota Nation

October 12th. The day an unknown individual took the Gold Medal in the men’s 10,000 meter race at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. This individual was the only American to ever take the Gold in that race. He was born in 1938. He was born four years after Columbus Day was declared a federal holiday by Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.

The Individual who took that gold? Billy Mills. An Oglala Lakota born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It’s safe to say that all know about Columbus Day, but few know about Billy Mills. Why is that? When Billy Mills took his victory lap, it consisted of U.S.A. being brandished across his chest, with a flag of the United States over his shoulders. The victory of Columbus? Selling his men 9 and 10 year old indigenous girls to do with as they wish. Filling his ship with 500 Arawak men, women, and children so they could be brought back to Spain to be sold into slavery (roughly 200 of the Arawak died in transport).

In the words of Columbus, “They…brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned… . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features… . They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants… . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

Subjugate. This was his first idea. This is who we honor in this country by declaring every second Monday in October Columbus Day. How do we explain the justification to our children? Do we lie to them? Do we omit historical facts to make them feel better about this day? How do I explain it to my children? We are indigenous, like Billy Mills, we too are Lakota.

Concerning the Indians, Columbus also reported, “are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone…”

In the words of Billy Mills, “I was constantly told and challenged to live my life as a warrior. As a warrior you assume responsibility for yourself. The warrior humbles himself. And the warrior learns the power of giving.”

We are warriors. We are not conquistadors. We do not explore others. We explore ourselves. We do not take. We give. We do not celebrate the exploit and genocide perpetrated against indigenous men, women, and children. We also choose to not ignore it. We are not doomed to repeat history, because we choose not to ignore it. Are you?

A friend of 3 Generations shared her outrage at this photo of a Philadelphia Eagles fan brandishing a knife through an Indian man’s head, a most bizarre way to demonstrate loyalty to a football team. By any standard it is a sadistic, racist, ugly image. But how does it look and feel to a Native American?

Our friend, a member of the Lakota Nation, told us “I like football, I like the sport but this picture embarrasses me as a football fan. It pisses me off. It offends me. For any other ethnic/racial/sexual orientation group, had it been their heads sitting on that knife, there would be a tremendous uproar, and rightfully so. But since we have been de-humanized by being mascots, mainstream society says it is ok, it’s not ok”.

For her and others this is really a double whammy – an evil image and the misuse of Native American culture to create mascots. Some people argue that being a mascot is a way of honoring Native American culture, but our friend does not agree: “It’s hard to raise children to be humble, to truly have an interest in the old school culture, when they are constantly seeing pictures of Indians as mascots, how can you be proud of yourself when everyone views you as a cartoon? I’m not a cartoon, my children are not cartoons, we are human beings”.

Nor are these mascots representative of what being a Native American really is: Redman Tobacco, Fighting Sioux, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians hardly reflect real people living real lives. As she also pointed out: “I’ve never run around doing a war hoop. I don’t run around patting my mouth making noises. I often wash clothes, go to work, play board games, play with my dog, play with my cat, talk to my children, drink coffee in the morning, have deep conversations with my husband, and pray. So I ask society, why is it ok to have Indians as mascots? Is this how you really view us? Why?”

The term redskin has a murky history depending on whose version you have been taught, but it is always considered disparaging. Indeed the only context in which it is acceptable today is when referencing mascots, but acceptable to whom? Most Native Americans associate it with the 18th and 19th Century practice of bounty hunting. Under the colonial government huge bounties were offered for the scalps of Native men, women and children. They were a manifestation of a cruel and genocidal practice. “Bounties were placed on the scalps of Indians. Bounties were placed and given, for the scalps of my ancestors. Who paid for those bounties? Trappers, traders, and yes, the government”.

She finished by explaining that when she sees this picture she sees an expression of imperialism and colonialism. “Speaking up and speaking out when things like this happen, includes speaking for my relatives who were never given the opportunity to do so. We may ask for respect, but we never ask to be honored. Being honored in the real sense, is humbling, not infuriating”.

Mascots do not honor, they betray. Time to rethink the obvious.

detroit3

Incredible experience today in Detroit, Michigan filming the story of Holocaust survivor Mania Salinger for the upcoming documentary film Night Will Fall. The filmmakers are using a green screen and a red camera so they can place Mania alongside footage of her younger self from the liberation of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany. She was one of the survivors who greeted liberating British troops on April 15th, 1945. She was filmed by the British Army film unit and is part of my father, Sidney Bernstein’s film Memories of The Camps – the film that was never shown. Today Mania identified herself in a still from my father’s film. She told us that of all the camps she lived in during the war (including Auschwitz) Bergen-Belsen was the worst: “It was a death camp. You lived day after day waiting for a piece of bread”.

Since the conclusion of the Bosnian genocide in December of 1995, recovery has been slow and steady. Today, however, a considerable step in the path to justice was made with Aleksandar Cvetkovic’s indictment for the genocide of Srebrenica in July 1995.

Further history was made today with Holland’s Supreme Court order that the Netherlands compensate the families of three Muslim men who were expelled from the UN compound in Srebrenica and consequently killed by Bosnian Serb forces. The case opens the Netherlands up for further compensation and “sets a precedent that countries providing troops as UN peacekeepers can be held legally responsible for crimes.”

Check out the articles below.

Indictment filed for genocide in Srebrenica, World Bulletin, September 6, 2013

Netherlands to pay compensation over Srebrenica massacre, The Guardian, September 6, 2013
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