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By Maggie McNish

On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be voting on the repeal of net neutrality. We feel passionately that this is only one crucial political action being buried in the tsunami of news pouring out of the republican controlled federal government. Among these are a looming government shutdown, a tax bill with the potential to crash the economy, and a controversial special election for a vacant U.S. senate seat featuring an accused-pedodophile. All of this is taking place under the umbrella of Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation unveiling nonstop revelations into the relationship between key players of the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government.

Net neutrality may very well slip through the cracks. It is a vital aspect of American freedom and democracy, but there are essentially no tools available to fight its repeal. As an independent commission, the FCC does not answer to the American people. After commissioners are appointed by the president and approved by the senate, the FCC does not answer to the federal government. One of the few exceptions is if congress decides to implement a congressional resolution of disapproval, which seems severely unlikely and out of tune with republican objectives.

The message for people fighting against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was simple — call your elected officials, show up at their offices, force them to hold town halls, etc. Avoiding the fatality of Net Neutrality seems hopeless in comparison. You can make a complaint to the FCC or urge your representatives to fight back against the commission; you can tweet #NetNeutrality or repost a Facebook image that illustrates what the internet would look like without it. You can do all of that and more, and yet the FCC has no concrete responsibility to value your thoughts on the matter.

The bigger problem — the one that the FCC is successfully capitalizing on — is that net neutrality is incredibly confusing for anyone who does not study or work in a technology field. This is not a generational issue. This is not an issue of ignorance. The fact is that watching “Mr. Robot” is sadly not enough to understand the complexities of the internet (although I like to think it makes me an expert). So, a true step we can take is spreading awareness of what Net Neutrality means and why it must be preserved.

Internet service providers (ISPs), operate within a heavily monopolized industry. Most communities only have one or two internet companies operating in their area, giving them little to no choice in who provides their internet. In 2015, President Obama imposed strict net neutrality rules with the promise of keeping the internet open and free. With these rules, the handful of massive ISPs that operate within the internet industry cannot restrict what sites their customers choose to access and utilize. Without net neutrality, they can.

Its repeal could have immediate personal effects on Americans. Let’s say, for example, that you  enjoy watching Netflix (I know for sure that Netflix is one of the most vital forces in my own life). Let’s also say that Verizon Fios is your ISP. Now, Verizon might get a little jealous that you chose a Netflix subscription over including cable in your Verizon package, and so they decide to cut off your access Netflix. You cannot switch providers, because Verizon is the only provider in your area. What do you do? Do you live without knowing the end of “Stranger Things”? Do you pay an extra fee to Verizon to reach the Netflix website? Do you suck it up and buy a cable package like your parents had back in 2005?

Let’s take another example. You are a politically active progressive who uses the internet to organize political meetings and rallies. Your ISP does not support you — indeed they are probably living on the complete opposite side of the ideological spectrum. Your left-wing, socialist tendencies do not match the corporate interests of AT&T, and AT&T decides to cut of your access to events posted on Facebook.

Furthermore, the FCC is relentlessly trying to push their agenda as a positive change, tweeting out the link to Chairman Ajit Pai’s press release on the repeal called, “Myth vs. Fact.” He also promises that revoking net neutrality will make it easier for providers to reach the 13% of Americans who do not have access to the internet. This seemingly charitable approach is still just another effort to put more money into the pockets of the ISPs.    

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration which successfully provided electricity to rural communities across the country. Chairman Pai’s rhetoric on spreading internet mirrors this effort, but there is a key difference. The Rural Electrification Administration used cooperative power companies that were run by their own employees. The FCC, on the other hand, will rely on contracting private companies, only deepening the monopolization of the internet industry.

Repealing net neutrality rules is a big deal. It is another step on the eerie road to fascism in America. However hopeless the fight we must engage in it. As a media company, 3 Generations supports net neutrality. The content on our website and on our Vimeo page are pieces of work that illuminate atrocities from genocide in Rwanda to sex trafficking in Miami. We believe that engagement with this sort of content is vital hearing the humanity behind human rights abuses.

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Lost in Lebanon, directed by the Scott Sisters and produced by Jane Wells for 3 Generations, is screening at New York City’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival this June.

To celebrate this occasion, our intern Mimi Mayo-Smith interviewed sisters Georgia Scott and Sophia Scott on their documentary and perspectives on the Syrian War and the refugee diaspora in Lebanon. We are delighted to share with you an edited transcript of their conversation.

Lost in Lebanon will screen at the IFC on June 15th and at the Lincoln Center on June 17th. Tickets are still available for purchase here: Tickets for HRWFF


Mimi: You have a multi-layered and intimate knowledge of what’s going on with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The common viewer usually only has the perspective of the mainstream media. What do you think viewers of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival should keep in mind when watching Lost in Lebanon?

Sophia: I think it’s very much that the human story is lost in all the news reports. What we hope to achieve in Lost in Lebanon is to give back some kind of dignity and human story to the vast numbers of fleeing refugees.

Georgia: I also think it as a reminder that the war is continuing inside Syria and that there are millions of Syrian people that cannot go back home. So I think this film is a reminder that their struggles continue.

Mimi: Do you think the way current media depicts Syrian refugees hinders the documentary through hyper-normalization or helps contextualize your film?

Sophia: I think the news medium is very important to get the developing stories out. It’s crucial. But I think what we’re offering can assist people who want to understand a bit more deeply and go more underneath the surface of what it actually means to be a refugee or what it means to be at home when there is war raging in your country. Even if you are no longer living underneath the bombs, the trauma still continues. And how you need to have access to legal status to be able to send your children to school. All those things that you don’t understand just from reading news reports, which tend to be slightly sensational and talk about the death and destruction. There is a lot more human trauma that follows.

Mimi: Do you think your film seeks to criticize the slow violence of bureaucracy and international institutions – the violence of the documentation process just because of the time it takes to assist refugees? Or is your film more of an expression of this reality?

Sophia: I think it’s quite subtle. It’s done through the voices of these four people. But it is questioning why is it that only five thousand Syrian people have been resettled legally in one year. Only 5 thousand out of a country that is hosting more than 1.8 million refugees. So I think it is. It is questioning. It is asking why is this happening? And looking at the consequences of not being resettled.

Georgia: This is very important for us just to state: we are not attacking or especially criticizing anybody or any organization. We are shining a light on an area of the world where people don’t always see the true story. So we’re trying to shine light on the Syrians that have fled and are living in neighboring countries like Lebanon. But I wouldn’t want to go as far as saying that we are being critical – because who are we to be critical? We are only observers on the ground.

Mimi: Is your film trying to increase activism in ordinary citizens?

Sophia: Absolutely. We are also trying to make people view the Syrian people who are fleeing the conflict as humans rather than just numbers, a fleeing refugee or some extremist Islamist person. We want people to identify more with, for example, Sheikh Abdo [LIL character]: a community leader, a teacher, a father. He could be your brother or your husband. We are trying to humanize a group of people that are often just portrayed as a number or an extremist. It’s not the case.

Mimi: Distributing the film in cities such as New York City and London – it seems that the audiences in these places are pretty progressive regarding the image of a refugee: a refugee as someone that is not a terrorist, not just a number.

Sophia: I think sometimes our concern is that these film festivals are fantastic but that we are slightly preaching to the converted so we are also very aware that we need to make sure our film is seen by the wider public. Which is why it’s so important for the results of the film festival to be that TV broadcasters pick it up, that we do all this outreach screenings at universities and high school classrooms so that the general public has access to this film as well.

Mimi: And you also do screenings at political conferences. Which ones have been you been to?

Sophia: We just started our outreach screenings last month. And we kickstarted that with a big screening at Chatham house, which is a large think tank in Europe. We’ve had one screening with them so far, last month, and we’re just in the process of organizing many more with the European Parliament, the German Parliament, the French Parliament, and the House of Lords here in the UK. And then, we have screenings across Lebanon that we are busy organizing now and with Middle Eastern institutions here in London, one of which is the center for Lebanese studies. We will have a screening there on the 4th of July.

Mimi: Do you think the way forward – in order to improve the lives of these millions of Syrians –  is to focus on their opportunities elsewhere rather than solving the conflict in Syria?

Sophia: Solving the conflict in Syria is paramount and I’m outraged that it’s going into its sixth year now. But I’m not fooling myself believing that this film can stop war inside Syria. I do hope that we can at least try and help the people that are either trying to flee currently from Syria or have already fled and are trying to survive in neighboring countries.

Mimi: One of the grand challenges of this conflict is educating the next generation. Do you think it’s important to hear from and share the perspectives of children directly?

Sophia: Yes. I mean every child that we met in Lebanon had experienced some form of terrible trauma from when they still lived under the bombings in Syria, where they’ve lost loved ones. But we also didn’t want to exploit young children, which is why our four main characters are all above the age of 18. We do have scenes where the younger children who Nemr or Sheikh Abdo [Lost in Lebanon characters] teach, and their voices are represented to an extent.

We also wanted to show the positive side and the importance of access to education, which is why some scenes of the film show the children learning, that they’ve been taught. We also wanted to show their eagerness to keep building a society that can help rebuild Syria in the future – which is through education.

Mimi: Should we then prioritize education when investing in the future of Syrian refugees?

Sophia: Yes – education is vital. But there needs to be an emphasis on access to legal status – because if a child or a family doesn’t have legal status in a country like Lebanon, then it makes it very difficult for that child to travel to school because they risk arrest and potential deportation. So it kind of comes hand in hand. The legal status is equally as important. It needs to come before access to education to be honest.

Mimi: The power to change the lives of Syrian refugees, then, lies primarily in the hands of foreign governments.

Sophia: Absolutely. It also lies in the hands of the international community. This film, Lost in Lebanon, is not criticizing the Lebanese government as such. It is shining a light on the fact that they are inundated with Syrian people, and Palestinian people before that, and so there needs to be some help given: advice and funding to ensure that the Lebanese government can in turn support the Syrian refugees that are currently residing in the country.

Mimi: What do you think is the root of the issue?

Sophia: I think the world has lost a lot of its compassion and I think we’ve become very fearful. I think the media and the government sometimes feed that fury of the human condition of hating the other and being fearful of the other. And I think that will only lead to future wars and make for very ugly societies. So Georgia and I are all about peace building and joining hands between different religious and ethnic groups. I think it’s so important to see each other as shared human beings living on this planet that belongs to us all. I think that lies at the heart of what we try to achieve with our films.

Mimi: Regarding your filming experience, was it difficult to live one and a half years in Lebanon?

Sophia: It was very challenging, first of all because we kind of give our whole self to the making of this film. We got very emotionally engaged with the characters and financially it was very difficult. We are always fundraising each step of the way. And we spent a lot of time in Lebanon – we got very involved with each character’s life. We kind of felt and still feel very responsible for them because they opened up to us. We have a good film at the end but their lives are still in disarray. It’s not quick fixes and the situation kind of continues. It was difficult and in some instances in the North of Lebanon it wasn’t very safe. There’s a risk of kidnapping so we had to deal with those factors but we felt the film we were making was worth it.  

Mimi: How can individuals engage and contribute to this issue?

Sophia: It starts in your own community. So raise awareness about the plight of refugees and try to make people understand that people are not wanting to leave their homes. They are being forced out of their homes. They don’t want to come to Europe or to America. It’s out of necessity. It’s out of the need to live safely somewhere. So that’s the number one thing that every individual in this world can do is try to spread the understanding that actually it’s the last resort to flee to Europe, or to the US, or to leave their home country. And secondly, also to be engaged and look at organizations that operate on the ground in a funding way. So you can support organizations like 3 Generations, or IFC,  or Refugees International – all these different kinds of organizations that work on the ground. The least is to be aware, to acknowledge.

Mimi: Your film seems very hopeful. It portrays the Syrian refugees gracefully, yet it also doesn’t romanticize their suffering. Was there still joy in the daily life of refugees?
Sophia: Absolutely. We’ve witnessed everything within the course of a year and a half. We’ve watched their friends dying, we’ve watch the birth of babies. We’ve attended weddings, birthday parties, new year’s eve, so we’ve witnessed everything and something that gave us a huge kind of hope was the continuous approach of life where they think “we’re lucky, we’re the lucky ones”.  And the fact that they wanted to help themselves and each other to survive and be an asset rather than a burden. So yes, they are very hopeful people in the face of continuing war in their own country. We found a lot of resilience.

Written by Mimi Mayo-Smith, 3G Intern

The world premiere for Lost in Lebanon will be held in London, United Kingdom at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival on March 12th and 13th, 2017.

“There is nothing like your homeland.

Nothing at all.”

In the global media, we know Syria as a place of conflict. Syria: rife with violations of human rights. Aleppo: a former UNESCO world heritage center now annihilated by bombs, empty of living breath. We do not want to go to Syria, hear about Syria, know Syria.

But Syria for Syrians is another story. Syria for Syrians is home. It is the place where identity and meaning dwells. Yet the war between the Free Syrian Army and al-Assad’s oppressive regime, intertwined with ISIS and Russia’s agendas, has made home a distant ghost for millions of Syrians. Home is now only a memory with faded senses. Thirteen million Syrians can no longer touch, feel, hear or smell their roots.

Lost in Lebanon, a documentary directed by the Scott Sisters and produced by 3 Generations and Jane Wells, gives voice and image to the deep fractures caused by displacement. Yet it is also a story of dignity, hope and beauty that can sprout through the painful cracks of loss.

The fracture is not only geographic but emotional. Lost in Lebanon expresses this complexity through its intimate portrayal of four Syrians stranded in Lebanon. The sounds and visuals of the camera inquire these humans’ feelings, philosophy and legal struggles from the crisis. A crisis they did not create, yet are deeply embedded in without choice.

Lebanon is a country of about 4 million people, but is a refuge for over a million Syrians. In 2014, Lebanon ended its Open Door Policy, giving Syrian refugees very little if not no socio-economic mobility. Yet it would be untrue to claim that Syrians aren’t fighting for change in their “open prisons”.  Although Syrians are stranded in Lebanon, they are the opposite of inactivity. Their eyes carry the depth of life and hope, and they are touchingly graceful in their suffering.  The humans we encounter in the film are not simply “refugees,” but activists fighting for better conditions in their own displaced communities. The film portrays the wisdom of Syrian artists, volunteer teachers, NGO leaders and camp managers in Lebanon with ambitions to give their people and the youngest generation of Syrians an opportunity to survive, to be educated and to belong.

And this is one of the most painful aspects of the refugee experience Lost in Lebanon documents. The political and military agendas of the most powerful governments are denying millions of  Syrians the right to belong.

They are perceived as a “burden”, even if they are humans like you and me seeking peaceful lives.

Their humanity is not only being confiscated through labels, but also through forced conscription (either to the Free Syrian Army or al-Assad’s troops), chemical warfare, exclusive laws and cultural apathy. Syrian refugees have suffered profound trauma and this trauma expresses itself in limitless ways. In Lost in Lebanon, a scene showcases Syrian children in a Lebanese refugee camp rapping about political violence. They are chanting rhythmically about their desire to live simply, ignorant of the world’s political theater armed with choking gases and indiscriminate bombs. The insight these children have on the nature of politics imprinted on me. Their honest expression was beautiful but disturbingly tragic. At seven and eight years old, they shouldn’t be singing about bullets planted in their friends’ backs.

Lost in Lebanon is a unique documentary. Unique in its ability to show the beautiful strength of people forced into suffering by warfare, while specifying how this suffering writes their mind’s everyday language:

When will I go home? When will I see my family again?  Will I  be granted legal residency? Will my passport be renewed? Will I ever go back to school? Will the next generation of Syrians be uneducated and landless? Will there be enough water and food for all of us?

These questions are not created out of a void but are derived from the political structures currently in place. The law of migration is bound to nationalist ideology – an ideology that cannot avoid discrimination and injustice.   Passports should not exist, one of the main Syrian protagonists said. Humans should be free to move anywhere, whenever. I agree with her. One’s homeland should not equate “nation” with a fixed racial/religious/sexual/etc. criteria for its citizens. For Syrians, Syria is a place of meaning, that connotes a belonging and holds the history of one’s self and family. It is a land they would like to return to and rebuild.

On March 6th, Trump signed a new travel ban, refusing entry to 6 mainly Muslim countries, including Syria. A 120 day ban has been put in place to block Syrian refugees from finding refuge in the States. This is a disgrace. People must watch Lost in Lebanon, not only to understand the political situation but to recognize that the humans affected are like ourselves and that our nationalist ideology is oppressive. We need to use our voices to keep theirs resoundingly alive.

________

Lost in Lebanon was reviewed by Cinevue, and was selected as one of their top picks at the HRW Film Festival 2017. To read the review, visit:
https://www.cine-vue.com/2017/03/hrw-2017-our-picks-of-programme.html 

Lebanon revises Open Door Policy. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/06/lebanon-revises-open-door-refugee-policy-201466744881995.html

See Amnesty’s report on Assad’s war crimes: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/08/syria-fresh-chemical-attack-on-aleppo-a-war-crime/ 

By Maggie McNish, 3G Intern

The genocide that occurred during the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers.  It began in ghettos and in prison camps.  It began with scapegoating certain groups, blaming them for the destruction of the German economy after World War I.  We learn about the Holocaust, and we ask, how could the Germans let that happen?  Well, the answer is inside us, as Americans, because we are currently at risk of letting something like that happen.

Since the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, stocks in the private prison industry have soared.  According to Business Insider, by the morning of November 9th 2016, Corrections Corporations of America was up 40% and GEO Groups was up 20%.(1) These statistics raised alarms before Inauguration Day, but worries intensify everyday as the new administration continues to put out policy platforms that promote arrests.

To begin with, private prisons are making money off of the mass deportations that are taking place across the nation right now.  What happens to an immigrant mother when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) officer rips her from her home? What happens to a child who is caught crossing the Texas border alone, hot, scared, and hungry? They are not simply sent back to their country of origin. No, they are detained in a placement facility. They are given an “alien registration number,” not unlike the numbers that were tattooed onto the wrists of Jews.

The Trump Administration is not to blame for this system. Under President Barack Obama, the Senate Appropriations Committee set an immigration detention bed quota, ensuring that at least 34,000 beds would be filled every day. Conversely, less than 500 beds are available for female victims of sex trafficking and less than 20 for male victims.     

Customs and Border Protection runs some of these facilities, like the Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona, which holds undocumented children who cross the border alone. Some media outlets were given a tour of the center in June 2014, and journalists witnessed kids imprisoned in the former warehouse.(2)

Undocumented children fenced in, sleeping on mats surrounded by porta-potties at Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona. Ross D. Franklin/AP

However, I.C.E. also has contracts with a growing number of private prison corporations. A December 2016 report from the Detention Watch Network revealed that 73% of immigrants detained under I.C.E. are being held inside private prisons.(3) Facts like these are explained by the uncomfortably close relationship between prison corporations and government officials.  For example, representatives from Arizona were tied to the lobbying firm ALEC in 2010 when the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act was passed, making it legal for Arizona law enforcement to discriminate based on ethnicity and charge immigrants for not carrying their papers.  ALEC works on behalf of private prison corporations.

What the Trump administration is doing is turning an already bad system into a human rights catastrophe. There is a reason he spent his campaign calling Mexicans rapists and criminals. He wants them in jails.  He wants these corporations to make a profit.

Immigrants are obviously not the only victims of the prison industrial complex, though. The devastating effect that mass incarceration has on black communities is coming to light more than ever before thanks to books like The New Jim Crowe and films like 13th.  The Civil War saw the end of slavery as America knew it, but it reshaped itself in the form of legal prejudice, imprisonment, and free labor.             

Then, we get President Trump threatening to send the feds into Chicago to deal with the violence there.  We hear him uplifting police officers without providing any criticism of the murders committed by cops against black men and women while his supporters shout, “blue lives matter,” clearly unable to comprehend the concept that many Americans really do not believe black lives matter.  His press secretary threatens that “you’ll see greater enforcement” of federal marijuana laws, whatever that means.(4) Trump himself makes statements like, “we’re all citizens of this blessed land, and no matter our color or the blood, color of the blood we bleed, it’s the same red blood of great, great patriot,” alluding to a new ideal of ethnic purity that horrifyingly mirrors Hitler’s dream of an Aryan society.(5)

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a concentration camp as “a place in which large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities.”  It would seem as though our country has more than a few of those. Are we going to wait until we are facing our own arrests to care?    

(1) http://www.businessinsider.com/private-prison-stocks-are-soaring-after-donald-

(2) http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/immigration/2014/06/18/arizona-immigrant-children-holding-area-tour/10780449/

(3) https://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/sites/default/files/reports/A%20Toxic%20Relationship_DWN.pdf

(4) Sean Spicer, daily press briefing on 23 February 2017

(5) Donald Trump, address to CPAC on 24 February 2017

Last month, 3 Generations was very fortunate to grow with the addition of three new team members. We are excited to have Sue, Mimi, and Maggie join us.

Meet Sue Kim, 3 Generations’ new Office Manager:

Sue was raised in New Jersey and has called New York City home for the past sixteen years. She has worked in both the private and non-profit sectors but her experiences working in non-profits and independent film production have provided her with her greatest sense of accomplishment and pride. Sue is also a TV and film actress, her credits include Nike’s webseries Margot Vs. Lily, NBC’s Law and Order: SVU and CBS’ Golden Boy. She is happy to be joining the 3 Generations team.

Meet Mimi Mayo-Smith and Maggie McNish, 3 Generations’ new Interns:

Before moving to New York City, Mimi lived in Singapore and Ho Chi Minh city. She grew up with two sisters, numerous cousins and eleven dogs. She is graduating this spring with a B.A. in Environmental studies from NYU. Previously, Mimi interned at the Rainforest Alliance under the Special Events team and helped plan protests for 350.org’s Divestment Campaign in Sydney. She likes reading, writing, and the sound of gongs.
Maggie, a Brooklyn transplant from New Jersey, is a senior at Pace University in downtown Manhattan earning a degree in history with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. In 2016, she worked with the politics team covering the presidential election at ABC News as a media logger. She also interned at the United Nations during the 2016 First Committee session with Reaching Critical Will, an NGO headed by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Her best friend is her pit bull boxer named Woodrow Wilson.

Written by Mimi Mayo-Smith, our new intern at 3 Generations.

Growing up in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, my sisters and I would coddle up under the mosquito net and listen to my grandmother recite French poetry and sing lullabies: remnants of the colonial education she received under a now crumbled Indochinese Empire.

My grandmother grew up in the North of Vietnam but migrated to the South when the communists took over. She lived through the French and Japanese occupation, and survived American violence on Vietnamese soil and bodies. It is her personal story and lively voice that gave me a different perspective on the “Vietnam War”, one which complexified the version I learnt in school. In my high school and university classrooms, the Vietnamese War was painted in black and white shades of ideology: capitalism versus communism, the Americans versus the Vietnamese, the imperial collaborators versus the rural peasants. Yet, my grandmother saw it differently. To her, the War was beyond dualisms.

The people of the War were pieces of a broken mirror, scattered in many places, holding differing beliefs, hopes and desires. People’s loyalty were like body parts denigrated, burnt by napalm. “One was simply loyal to one’s life, and even then, not always.”

It was under the mosquito net, that I understood everyone’s voice had a place in “history”. My grandmother’s story is as authentic as the paragraphs printed in history textbooks. Voices, I learnt, are not only expressions of individual selves, but create, contribute, and re-enliven the story of a generation, a nation, a War, an injustice.

I intern at 3 Generations because I believe in the worth of personal stories to give meaning to buried political histories. I believe personal stories have the penetrating power to make the other care for histories that may not at first seem like their own. I believe in the authority of the non-authoritarian to share his or her story and define what injustice looks like and feels like.

I appreciate 3 Generation’s films on the refugee crisis and historical genocides because they do not uphold an objective view. There is no room for the impersonal. 3 Generations expresses trust and respect for the voices whose bodies were directly permeated by specific crises. 3 Generations carves vocal and visual spaces for those whom are usually left in the shadows. For this, I am grateful to be here.

Written by Maggie McNish, our new intern at 3 Generations.

 

I am a senior at Pace University majoring in History and minoring in Middle Eastern studies.  The plan is to go onto graduate school for International Relations with a concentration in media and culture.

I truly could not be more excited about the opportunity I stepped into.  During 2016, I was working for a major news cooperation covering the election.  My job was transcribing anything and everything from the campaign trail.  Live film constantly fed through the monitors from the digital journalists in the field, and I spent a year typing it all.

If Ted Cruz had a media avail, I was there.  If Hillary went to a coffee shop, I was there, writing down her order along with the server.  If Trump had five rallies in one day, I was there, typing every “[chanting] USA! USA!,” every “[chanting] Build the wall! Build the wall!,” and every “[chanting] Lock her up! Lock her up!”

I was there at the Republican Convention, when a correspondent heard a “lock her up” chant evolve into a “burn the witch” one.

Taking in all that energy was beyond stressful.  It was emotionally painful.  On election night, I could not leave work on election night until Donald Trump gave his victory speech.

“I am actually incapable of doing my job right now,” I told a producer.

“I know.  I know,” she consoled me.  “But I need this transcript so I can cut my piece in the morning.  This is for me.”

Months before November 8th, before the primaries were over, I was taking my dog Woodrow for a midnight walk through the park when I called my brother Matt.  This particular phone conversation lasted way after the walk ended, straight into the closed door of my bedroom, after he told me to step back from the election madness – even step back from Bernie.  I was desperately trying to figure out when my brother lost his morality.

“This is what they want,” Matt said, “everybody fighting over two or three people.”

“But we have to fight, or else Donald Trump becomes president,” I insisted.  “If Hillary wins the primary, we’re done, he’s in, and it’s over.”

“We can’t all live in fear of one man,” he tried to tell me.  “We can’t all be terrified about what will happen in one election.”

He paused and then said, “Or else we’ll all go mad.”

“I am going mad,” I whispered.

“Yeah, because you’re 21 years old, dealing all your own shit, and being bombarded with all sides of this propaganda.  You hear exactly what they want you to hear, exactly what they think is wrong with the other side when, really, we all need to just be dealing with our own shit.”

“But—” I tried.

I stared off through my window and actively attempted to reach calmness.

“But, what are we supposed to do if it’s not helping people?” I finally let out.

“That’s when you’re in a library one day, you stumble across some book about the Sahara Desert, you become amazed with it, and you decide that is what you want to dedicate your life to.  It’s about finding something deep inside you that you care about instead of letting these people tell you everything we should be scared of and why you need to do something about it right now.”

“Something you’re passionate about,” I said, still staring off.

He went on.  “Like, I think this Mars exploration is crap.  We might get there, but we collectively need to bring ourselves back down to Earth and realize that’s all we have right now.”

I shook myself out of my newfound state and held onto my last defense.  “That’s why we need Bernie though!  He’s the only one who even cares about climate change.”

“He might, and that’s great.  But he’s also just one man.”

And I am just one woman.  I am a very confused, financially unstable, often idiotic woman living in Brooklyn trying to figure out what is going on not only in my own life but in the world we find ourselves living in.  Growing up in New Jersey with average middle class privilege, I was able to go through middle and high school dreaming of what I would do when I grew up.  I foolishly assumed that I had options, because I also assumed that the world I would grow into would be the same as the one I grew up in.

Before I ever kissed a real person, I used to have reoccurring dreams about kissing President Obama.  Now, I live in a world where I have nightmares from watching the news at night – dreams about sexual trauma induced by a new president who admitted to sexual assault on tape.  I live in a world where white woman heard that tape over and over and over again and still voted for him.

I knew America wasn’t perfect.  We all knew that.  We have a constitution that thinks a black person is really only ¾ of a person.  We have a government that never ratified an Equal Rights Amendment for women.  We are the only country on Earth that has dropped a nuclear bomb on another.

I just never knew that by the time I was 22, I would have to spend weekends and nights getting in my workouts via protests and marches.  And, really, it is way too overwhelming.  There are so many injustices nationally and internationally, socially and politically that it has become emotionally impossible to handle all of it.

3 Generations has given me the chance to handle it.  It is an organization that focuses on issues I am passionate about.  I am conscious of the fact that we live on colonized land and feel an urgent sense of solidarity with the Native Americans who are ahead of the rest of America in the fight against oil.  It pains me that within this context, the next Secretary of State will be the CEO of Exxon and a personal friend of Vladimir Putin.

Instead of giving myself up to a news cycle plagued with a bad case of A.D.H.D., I am now exposed to the dedication, thoughtfulness, and sensitivity that goes into a film or a video focused on one main issue, one unique injustice.  I am learning to step back from the madness and understand the problems I am passionate about from the most important source of perspective – the victims.

So far, 2017 has been a very busy year for 3 Generations and we want to share some of the press coverage we have received on our newly released films:

German Concentration Camps Factual Survey

The New York Times reviewed the film: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/movies/german-concentration-camps-factual-survey-review.html 

The New York Times interviewed Jane about the film: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/movies/a-fathers-legacy-german-concentration-camps-factual-survey.html

The Daily Beast puts the film into a modern perspective under a new administration: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/01/28/remembering-the-horrors-of-the-holocaust-in-the-time-of-trump.html

A Different American Dream

The New York Times reviewed the film: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/movies/a-different-american-dream-review.html

The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/a-american-dream-film-964328

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Rida Bint Fozi
rida@thetascgroup.com
212-337-8870 

 

German Concentration Camps Factual Survey 

North American Theatrical Premiere of Groundbreaking Documentary
Revealing the Uncensored Atrocities of the Nazi Regime

With the Guidance of Alfred Hitchcock

New York, NY – December 21, 2016:  After being shelved by the British Government in 1945 and following a restoration at Britain’s Imperial War Museum, German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, a feature-length documentary film commissioned by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and produced by the late filmmaker Sidney Bernstein, will have its first theatrical run in North America beginning January 6, 2017, at Cinema Village in New York City. This lost masterpiece of British documentary film was intended to definitively refute potential denials of the extent of the brutality in Nazi death camps. Opening night will feature an introduction and Q&A by Bernstein’s children, award-winning filmmaker Jane Wells (Tricked, The Devil Came on Horseback) and lawyer David Bernstein.
With the input of Alfred Hitchcock, German Concentration Camps Factual Survey consists of six reels of footage shot in 1944 and 1945 as Allied troops liberated Nazi-occupied Europe. Restored by the Imperial War Museum and distributed by 3 Generations in association with First Run Features, the film provides shocking, uncensored images of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust.

Film Still: A mass grave outside of a German Concentration Camp

Film Still: A mass grave outside of a German Concentration Camp

Intended to be shown to German prisoners of war in Germany after the fall of the Third Reich, production on German Concentration Camps Factual Survey was halted due to a change in the British government’s post-war priorities. An unfinished cut of the film was screened on September 29, 1945, but the British government actively suppressed it from that point on. The film was not completed and released in full until seven decades later in 2014 at the Berlin International Film Festival.

“We distributed several reels of this film 31 years ago,” said Seymour Wishman, president of First Run Features, “and are now privileged to have the opportunity to screen the restored and completed version. This coincides with the release of the feature film Denial being shown around the country about the despicable people who have tried to disgrace the memory of those who died in the Holocaust by denying that it happened.”

3 Generations, a nonprofit organization founded by Jane Wells in 2008 to record and share stories of survivors of human rights abuses from around the world, has been granted theatrical and non-theatrical screening rights to German Concentration Camps Factual Survey for North America and Puerto Rico.  

“I am honored that the Imperial War Museum has permitted me to show my father’s film to American audiences,” said Jane Wells, Founder of 3 Generations. “It brings the work of 3 Generations full circle and fulfills a family legacy. My father told me the greatest regret of his life was not being able to finish this film. Arguably, there has never been a more important time to see this film in the United States of America.”
Wells is exploring educational partnerships to begin screening the film at universities and community organizations across the United States.

For media inquiries, contact Rida Bint Fozi at The TASC Group at 212-337-8870 or rida@thetascgroup.com.

About 3 Generations
Founded in 2008 by filmmaker Jane Wells, 3 Generations is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in New York City that uses the power of storytelling to amplify the voices of survivors, create witnesses and inspire change. 3 Generations uses film, video and written testimony to record and share stories of survivors of human rights abuses from around the world. For more information visit www.3generations.org.

About First Run Features

Founded in 1979, First Run Features is one of America’s largest independent distributors of documentaries and art films. Recent releases include Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker’s Unlocking the Cage, Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker’s Welcome to Leith, Jillian Schlesinger’s Maidentrip, Michael Apted’s 56 Up, and Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith’s Academy Award-nominated The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.

About Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum (IWM) tells the stories of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.

About IWM’s Restoration and Completion of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey

In 1952, IWM inherited the mute rough-cut of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, along with 100 compilation reels of unedited footage of atrocities and scenes in the camps after they were liberated, shot by Allied cameramen. IWM also acquired a script for the voice-over commentary and a detailed shot list for the complete film. A version of this film, known as Memory of the Camps, was first shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 1984 (pre-digitization and without the sixth reel). This version was also screened in 1985; the five reels were broadcast on Frontline, part of the WGBH Boston PBS network.

A need for restoration of the copies of Memory of the Camps had become apparent, after the film had been shown widely as a popular loan item. IWM believed that the project to restore the film could also encompass work to complete it, using the filmmakers’ original directions (the rough-cut, shot list and script for the commentary) and all reels of source material that had been assembled back in 1945 to make the film.

The work to restore and complete the film began for IWM in December 2008, when the IWM team – including Dr. Toby Haggith, George Smith, Andrew Bullas and David Walsh – investigated whether the sequences for reel six, as described in the original shot list, could be found among the 100 component reels of unedited footage, deposited with the rough-cut in 1952.

The film now has the title German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – as originally listed in the Ministry of Information Catalogue of Films for Liberated Territories, published in September 1945. The original commentary has been re-recorded with the voice of actor Jasper Britton and an effects track created, blending the existing synch sound recordings made at Belsen with authentic Army Film and Photographic Unit recordings made on the battlefields of NW Europe (1944-45), which are held in IWM’s collection.

German Concentration Camps Factual Survey received its world premiere at the 64th Berlin Film Festival in February 2014 and its UK premiere at the 58th BFI London Film Festival in October 2014. The film has also been shown at festivals in Jerusalem, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Sydney and at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. It has been distributed across the UK by BFI (British Film Institute).

By Jane Wells

“You can’t change the world on an empty stomach”

— Emma Galland

Over the last few months I have had some powerful conversations with the owners of Zenberry, Emma Galland and Shane Moran. They are long-time supporters of 3 Generations. She is a holistic health coach and he a competitive athlete.  One of the conversations was about the relationship of food and culture. When genocide seeks to obliterate a whole group of people preserving traditions is a vital act of regeneration, and food is one of the first and most essential celebrations of a threatened culture. Another conversation was about the ramifications of trendy foods on the indigenous populations who have long grown and eaten them. The links between food and human rights are many and important. Emma and Shane shared some stories about the indigenous foods they use in their creation Zenberry*, it’s a powder containing many ancient and healing foods (like cacao, macca root and spirulina). For the last two years I have taken Zenberry with me whenever I am on the road either filming or attending festivals to keep healthy and not insanely hungry. As a non-athlete I was really honored and excited when they invited me to be their Zenberry Fearless Leader this month. I agreed to take their Zenberry Be Fearless Challenge for the month of December, figuring maybe I should get healthy BEFORE the New Year. Then Emma suggested we propose the challenge to all our friends and supporters, thinking that 3 Generations could spearhead a broad effort to get lots of us fighting fit for the challenges of 2017.

If you join me in the December Zenberry Be Fearless Challenge you can help yourself and help 3 Generations.  I cannot make specific claims about the product since we are a 501c3, nor can I promise I will end up a triathlete in 2017, but I plan to try.

Here are the rules of the challenge:

  • Make at least 1 Zenberry smoothie a day to increase essential nutrition, boost your immune and digestive system. Disease is an action killer. If you want to change the world, a rocking health is a prerequisite. [I am going to cut down on processed foods and sugar this month because the madness of world tends to make me overeat sweets. I love to cook so I plan to come up with a smoothie for breakfast or afternoon evening snack to nurture my body, instead of eating candy or chocolate]
  • Set a health or professional goal for yourself this month and execute a “daily stretch” action towards progressing your goal every day. My goal is to spread the word about 3 Generations via the launch A Different American Dream and German Concentration Camps Factual Survey into movie theatres in January
  • Commit to performing at least one civic action weekly. I will share some ideas based on my actions every week on our Facebook, but next week I will be visiting Standing Rock for the third time and listening to the stories of the Water Protectors.

Every bag of Zenberry you purchase at this 3 Generations donation link http://zenberrymix.com/#_l_1v will generate a 35% donation to 3 Generations from Zenberry (that is $41 per bag).The more you buy, the more we get. One large bag includes 33 servings. The food is raw, dehydrated and lasts up to 2 years. It does not need to be refrigerated which makes it easy to travel with.

As soon as you get your Zenberry you can begin the challenge. You can tune in with me starting Thursday, December 1. Thanks to one of our Board Members there are 3 scholarships available for anyone who would like to take the challenge but may not be able to afford to do so. Contact us info@3generations to apply.

About Zenberry

*Zenberry is a raw, vegan, organic superfood protein drink mix that actually tastes good. It’s like a green juice, smoothie, protein shake and superfood drink all in one, with probiotics and enzymes. This essential nutrition profile is what makes it unique and it does not contain soy, dairy, chemicals, fillers or GMOs.

By Jamie Brandel, 3 Generations Summer Intern

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 11.25.03 AM
 The vlogger (left) having fun at a North Korean water park

As a millennial, social media has been a powerful tool in the fight for human rights — whether it be the Arab Spring or the Human Rights Campaign’s equality logo. Whatever the cons of the Internet may be, it is without a doubt a profound force in raising awareness of global issues.

So when I saw the North Korean fun vlogs from Louis Cole, better known by his Youtube name FunforLouis, the first word that came to mind was “strange.” If the word North Korea wasn’t in the title, you may never know that Louis was vloging about one of the most frightening places on Earth. If you have ever turned on a TV before, you probably know this about North Korea. There’s quite a disconnect between this video and reality. You also probably know that getting into North Korea isn’t an easy task. We don’t know much about the country for a reason: It blocks out any “corruption of its society” from the outside world. So it seems pretty obvious that Louis must have agreed to some guidelines, also evident by the controls set up in his visit, like Ms. Kim – one of his “tour guides.”

Whether he was paid by the North Korean government or not, as some media outlets are reporting, he is clearly complicit. Like Shane Smith said, “You’re not a tourist — you are on a tour.”

Going to visit the monuments that pay homage to North Korea’s authoritarian leaders, visiting a waterpark and schools while remaining silent on reality, these things make him just as guilty in recreating a very orchestrated image. The secretary of Joseph Goebbles, who is now the subject of a new documentary A German Life, claims she had no idea what the Nazi regime what really up to. Just another job. She says she had no idea what happened when her friends disappeared; this obliviousness is one in the same. Under the guise of some cultural relativist argument, Louis says that the Western media only portrays this horrible image of North Korea, and it’s his job to show the culture and focus on the positive. At one point he tells the camera that it would cost him 200 US dollars, even as a visitor, to get probably a couple minutes worth of data. But no problem there. So does passive acceptance and willful ignorance equate to innocence? No, not really.

Louis responded with another vlog after he received a large amount of backlash. Two things struck me: One is his mention of his two favorite places he has visited, Rio and Cape Town. He mentions that Cape Town has one of the largest wealth disparities in the world. And yet, anyone who has visited Cape Town will tell you that no one, absolutely no one, would visit Cape Town and not include the images of apartheid-era settlements and racism. It is inherent in their culture and in every South African’s identity. So, quite the opposite of showcasing North Korean culture.

Secondly, Louis talks about how he just left out the clips of him talking to people about their realities and how bringing happiness to people, like when they surf, was a means of change.

Now, no one is asking FunforLouis to be an investigative reporter, but purposely leaving out the truth of North Korea is the ultimate bystander effect. If you act as if the people around you aren’t under constant threats of violence, it’s almost like it doesn’t exist. Well, it does.

Change won’t come from momentary “happiness” like Louis says but when silence is broken.

I am a new employee at 3 Generations. One of my responsibilities is to work with my 3G colleagues to find relevant news stories about the topics that we at 3G are passionate about and want to share with our followers through social media channels. One of those topics is sex trafficking.

Last night, shortly after human trafficking survivor Ima Matul finished speaking, an associate editor at reason.com posted a piece entitled ‘Sex Trafficking Survivor’ at Democratic Convention Not Actually Victim of Sex Trafficking. I found it because as I was searching for stories about trafficking this morning, this popped up as the second story listed under a google news search for “trafficking”.

Labor trafficking and sex trafficking are forms of modern day slavery. Under U.S. law, both forms of trafficking are currently qualified as human trafficking under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Last night, a brave survivor of human trafficking spoke at the DNC about her experience being trafficked and abused.

Unfortunately, the DNCC representative who published the list of speakers in a press release yesterday listed Ima Matul as a ‘Sex Trafficking Survivor & Advocate’. However, ‘sex trafficking’ was never mentioned in Ima’s speech or in Senator Klobuchar’s introduction of Ima.

Yes, it was a mistake by the DNCC representative who published the press release, but the title of this article by reason.com is very misleading to readers and never mentions that Ima was repeatedly physically abused and warned by her trafficker that she would be beaten and raped if she told police. And sadly, the 125 comments the blog has already gathered since being published 16 hours ago include many comments criticizing or doubting Ima’s personal story of being trafficked. And, if you were to do a quick search on a search engine right now about news articles covering Ima Matul’s speech, who would find that the headlines in the Huffington Post, ABC News, LA Times, and other major news organizations use the words ‘Human Trafficking’ and not ‘Sex Trafficking’.

Labor trafficking and sex trafficking are both horrific human rights violations. Ima’s message is vitally important and this article from reason.com is political manipulation and an egregious disservice to the fight against human trafficking.
____

Ima Matul is Chair of the National Survivor Network and was recently appointed by President Obama as a member of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. You can find out more about the work that Ima is doing by following her on twitter @ImaHope4Freedom

 

Click here to read the full article from reason.com

 

Blog written by Kelly Thoma, Production Manager at 3 Generations

Today, we wanted to share an opinion piece written by one of our Advisory Board members, Rabbi Lee Bycel. Lee recently went to Amsterdam and Berlin to interview Syrian refugees about their journeys and to learn more about the the fears Lee and others have about these refugees.

We are grateful for Lee’s support of 3 Generations and hope you will read the full article as we think this piece is an important one to share. For the full article, click here.

Here is an excerpt from the article:
“In these dark times it is courageous people in their thirties like Duezen, Chantal and Mazen, and many others, that shine a bright light and seek to build bridges of understanding and reconciliation. The Syrian refugee crisis is the great moral challenge of our time; it may very well define who and what we are as a nation. Now is the time to grant asylum to more refugees and to do proper vetting so that we can protect our safety. Now is the time for the Jewish community to host Syrian refugees in their communities. Now is the time to open our arms and embrace the refugee. It will take courage. However, the risk in not acting is that of losing the soul and character of our people – and that is a risk we cannot assume.”

Lee is the rabbi of the Congregation Beth Shalom in Napa, California. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco, currently leading courses including ‘Holocaust and Genocide’ and ‘Contemporary Political Prophets’. In addition to serving our our Advisory Board, Lee is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

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