Friday, June 26, 2009

Gainesville Sun Article inspired rant w/ old photos


Today there is an article by Gabrielle Felconeiri in the Gainesville Sun about All God's Children and its screening tonight at The Story House. This article is the most meaningful to me so far.

Gainesville is my home away from home. It's where I found my voice and means of expressing it by making my first videos. It's where I met some of my dearest friends, my husband and the confidence to "just do it", instead of getting too hung up on details, logistics, expectations and self-doubt. Inspirational DIY at its best!

Shermy D, Scott and Megan
December 1994 at the Hardback Café

going away party before I moved back to Hamburg
(photo by Rachel?)


So it's amazing to have an article in the local paper about a film Scott and I made together and announcing its local premiere. It's a bit of a full circle or a kind of homecoming. Except that I'm actually not there for the screening tonight, which is very frustrating. I'm sad to miss the opportunity to spend time and share this film with the people who always seemed to believe in me and support any random project or idea and who have been an inspiration to me for the last 17 years.

Screening of my documentary / collection of local band music videos Just Because
Hardback Cafe, 1994

How amazing and supportive the Gainesville scene is, got proven again by Wendy Michel of The Story House asking (as soon as she found out about the film) if she could show it at her cool art space and now organizing the entire event; and then Dave, Celino and Danarchy volunteering to hand out post cards and everyone spreading the word. You guys are the best!

Jeff, Shermy D (hiding), David, Danarchy (tattooed skull), Rob Dark (my first ride to Gainesville), Kristen (my first friend in G'vle), me, Margaret (interviewing in Just Because and interviewed in All's Well and Fair)
Screening of Just Because

Hardback Cafe, 1994

When in 2006 I got worn out and frustrated with the whole "film thing" in the process of making All God's Children, I went to Gainesville for a few weeks to get back to the roots and just shoot something again for the joy of it (instead of all the other aspirations and hang-ups that drive a lot of work). The result were All's Well and Fair and a burst of inspiration, energy and reaffirmation of my desire to "just make films" no matter what anyone else "says", which in turn played a part in me sticking with All God's Children until it finally was done and could be shown.

So now instead of being in Gainesville this week, I'm working on finishing up All's Well and Fair, which is set there and which I hope to show there very soon.

Last but not least while I'm selfishly sad that I can't be there, the film will be well represented (and discussed after the screening) by producer/director Scott Solary and by film participants Dr. Howard and Ann Beardslee.

ALL GOD'S CHILDREN
- FREE SCREENING -
Friday, June 26th - 7pm

The Story House

11 SE 5th Avenue

Gainesville, FL 32601


On a little, yet to me meaningful, side note: Apparently in the print edition of the Gainesville Sun the article starts (together with a photo from the film featuring Ann and Howard) on the front page of the Film & Music section. Also on the front page is a picture of my dear friend Christia (from Tallahassee) and her band Girls On Film, who are in Gainesville tonight to play a show at The Atlantic. We've been friends since long before her band and this film - so it's quite cool to see that both of us have our work shown in the same town (where neither of us live) on the same night and also mentioned on the same page of a newspaper. A great piece of memorbilia.

READ THE ARTICLE ABOUT ALL GOD'S CHILDREN HERE

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Help Survivors of Child Abuse from New York State

The Child Victims Act in New York State needs your help!

As many of you know there is a "Statute of Limitations" (SOL) when it comes to holding child abusers accountable. A "Statute of Limitations" sets the maximum period which one can wait before filing a lawsuit.

When it comes to abuse of children, most survivors don't speak up and seek justice until they are adults (for many reasons including the ability to realize and comprehend what happened to them as children and the process of overcoming the shame and guilt, which is sadly common among victims). As you can imagine, by the time an abused child is an adult, the "Statute of Limitations" has often expired. The abuser continues to break the law and harm children and is never held accountable.

In 2002 the California legislature passed amendments to its statute of limitations on child sex abuse, essentially opening a "window", which gave survivors one year (2003) to file claims even if the statute of limitations for their claims already had expired.

The New York Legislation is now considering such a "window" to give sex abuse victims the opportunity to seek justice and for the criminals to be held accountable even if the SOL has expired.

"There are two competing bills in the Legislature--the Duane/Markey Bill (S2568/A2596) also known as the Child Victims Act (CVA) favored by advocates for children and victims of abuse, and the Kruger/Lopez Bill (S3107-A/A5708-A) favored by the Catholic Church." (from the VOTF website)

As you can imagine I support the Duane/Markey Bill and urge you to do the same.

There is even a possibility that this will directly effect the MKs who survived abuse at their missionary boarding school featured in All God's Children - because the headquarters of the overseeing mission-sending organization and Church (Christian and Missionary Alliance) was in Nyack, New York, during the time the children were abused overseas by C&MA missionaries.

THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

  • Contact Senator Craig Johnson (details below)
  • Contact Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who is partially responsible for the “Hide the Predator” bill (details below)
  • Contact your own representatives (local, state and national to help effectuate SOL reform throughout the country)
  • Use this form to send a sample message urging for SOL reform to NY Assembly Members, Senators or elected official in other states.

For more information about the the SOL in general and what the rules are in your own state, please check out the website Statute of Limitations Reform.

Here are more links for your information
and action (provided by Jesse Loffler, manager of SOL-Reform.com):

- Assemblywoman Markey’s Statements on the Amended Child Victims Act: http://www.sol-reform.com/images/CVA-Markey-Jun14.pdf and http://www.sol-reform.com/images/CVA-Markey-Jun4.pdf

- Professor Marci Hamilton, FindLaw June 11 Column, The Maturing of a Movement: Statute of Limitations Reform for Sex Abuse Victims: http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hamilton/20090611.html

- Contact Vito Lopez in his Brooklyn and Albany offices at 718-963-7029 and 518-455-5537 respectively or e-mail LopezV@assembly.state.ny.us to express your firm support for the Child Victims Act.

- Contact Senator Craig Johnson to support the CVA! Senator Johnson was once a supporter of the CVA and is now on the fence in the face of Lopez bill. Please contact him if you can to support the window legislation in the Markey CVA – the only tried and true method of identifying abusers. Senator Johnson can be reached at 516-746-5923 (District Office), 518-455-2622 (Albany Office), or by e-mail at Johnson@senate.state.ny.us . There is also a list of senators on the home page of www.sol-reform.com.

- Past CVAs as examples of why NY legislators should vote yes – California and Delaware: http://www.sol-reform.com/Pages/Legislators-Protecting-Children.html (including a list of legislators who voted for reform in Cal. and Del. – there were no nays.)

And please remember: even though the Catholic Church apparently is against this bill, sex abuse of children is NOT just a Catholic problem - not even if the predator is a clergy member. Children get abused in all different settings, cultures, Christian denominations and other faith groups, schools and even in their own family.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, consider this and maybe even supporting the rights of survivors through voicing your opinion.

FYI, I took the liberty to use some phrases from some of the websites listed above.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Washington Times Article


After working on All God's Children for five years, (and right now also having watched it 7 times at screenings in the last 4 weeks) I have to admit that I'm quite accustomed to the tone, the words and the stories in the film. So I'm always startled and saddened when I hear a description of the events of Mamou in someone else's words - making it fresh and upsetting all over again.

The article by Julia Duin in today's Washington Times starts off with such a shocking description:

[...] the stories of more than 80 children whose days at a Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA) boarding school in Mamou, Guinea, in West Africa sound like something out of Abu Ghraib: savage beatings, sexual abuse, rape and sadistic punishments.

This article doesn't just focus on our film and thus reveals more information than we could include - e.g., about Marilyn Christman's additional personal experiences, reports of other abused MKs and the only two other investigations made public (Presbyterian Church - USA and United Methodist Church).

Please read the article and leave a comment on the article's page to let Julia Duin, The Washington Times and other reporters know that you are interested in this story. The abuse of MKs and the cover-up is much, much larger than what's depicted in our film and more reporting in national media is necessary to continue breaking down the wall of silence around this subject.

----------------------
UPDATE 6/26/09:

The article as it was published originally contained a severe error, which has now finally been corrected in the online version. All the links in this post lead to the corrected article.

We are horrified at the thought that the printed version still exists with the error, which implicates men of crimes they did not commit. We were very careful in making the film to not name anyone who hadn't already been proven to be guilty. This is a very delicate subject matter and we wouldn't want anyone to be hurt unnecessarily - nor do we want the audience to have any reason to doubt the stories we tell.

As editors we work meticulously on every frame of our film to control every last detail - it can be a frustrating experience to then share your work and realize that you don't have control over how people perceive or interpret your work or the conversations around it. Of course in all this we are very appreciative of getting the story of the abused MKs out in the media at all. But it's important for us, the people in the film, all the survivors and the accused that this continues to be "truth telling" and not just "story telling".

Friday, June 19, 2009

Upstate weekend... ahhh...

Meadow Flower - along the Finger Lakes Trail in the Finger Lakes National Forest

I can barely keep up with documenting all the travel & screenings of the past - while setting up the travel & screenings of the future. So with a few days delay here's a recap of Scott and my trip to the Finger Lakes Region in upstate New York where All God's Children played at the Curtis Baptist Church in Campbell, New York. Side fact: Campbell is pronounced Camp Bell. Who knew?

Meadow on the top of a hill above Seneca Lake (apparently a lot of the hills were once used for making hay - while now they have mostly turned into forests again)

On Saturday, after 5 hours of driving through torrential rain the sky finally cleared up just as we got to the Finger Lakes Region. Now that driving was fun again, we circled around Keuka Lake until we found the perfect dinner spot at Waterfront Restaurant, which was right on the water and allowed the other guests to just hop in and out of their boats directly from the deck where we ate.


Passenger side's perspective of Scott driving us around Keuka Lake

Later that evening we got to catch up with Dianne and Bud Couts, who had driven over from Ohio.

Curtis Baptist Church in picturesque Campbell, NY - just south of Keuca Lake

The next day we joined the Curtis Baptist Church's congregation for lunch. We finally met the organizer of the screening, Shary Kroeker Hauber, who had also attended Mamou Alliance Academy, and the host, pastor Dale Ingraham, and his wife Faith. Many thanks to all three of them for having our film at their church.


Shary, Bud and Dianne talk outside the church on this perfect summer day.

While we had sat out front of the church, apparently a lot of people had come in the side door or just come up directly from the lunch downstairs because once we walked inside there were A LOT more people than I had expected.

A big thanks to everyone who came out. It seemed too beautiful of a day to sit inside and watch such a dark film. Thank you also to Tim Hauber for the projection of the film and Bud Couts for handling the DVD sales.

Shary and Dianne talk after the screening.
(left picture by Bud, right picture by Scott)


It was a real treat to have Shary Kroeker Hauber at the screening - answering questions from her community after they had just watched a film about the missionary kids boarding school she attended and the abuses that took place there. Shary does not appear in the film and we had never had the opportunity to talk to her; so it was not only great to meet her but also to hear her stories of life as an MK in Africa.

Dale and Faith Ingraham have a special ministry called Speaking Truth In Love Ministries (Stopping Sexual Abuse in the Body of Christ). So a lot of the audience was already very aware of issues around abuse, especially by clergy. Dale, Faith and us exchanged a lot about our goals and methods of getting the facts out about abuse and its repercussions. A very inspirational day.


Scott took this picture of Luci taking a picture of...

Bud and Dianne (Darr) Couts, Shary Kroeker Hauber, Faith and Dale Ingraham

We said good-bye after dinner and Scott and I took off for a sunset walk through near-by Corning - known mainly for its biggest employer, Corning, Inc., which makes glass wares and ceramics, and the Corning Museum of Glass, which we skipped.

Appropriately glass-esque, the headquarters of Corning, Inc. also happen to have a Japanese flair. To the right the Gaffer Tower.

Not only did we see the Gaffer Tower, we also walked through the Gaffer District, past the Gaffer Grille and apparently none of them have anything to do with the person setting up the lights on a film shoot. Must be a glass thing. Never stop learning.

Also upstate New York is not actually a different state than the one New York City is in, although it certainly looks and feels like that. Therefore it's not really appropriate to say: "Bob Evans has been our unofficial caterer on this screening tour - we've eaten there in Ohio, in Missouri and now here in Corning. You know, we don't have Bob Evans in New York." Because apparently we do - just in that other part of our big state, the gorgeous part.

Driving towards Seneca Lake

Monday morning started with an interview (the result should appear in print this Sunday), then lunch in Watkins Glen and we were finally off hiking in the Finger Lakes National Forest.

Flowers near the ponds at top of Gorge Trail

Further along the Gorge Trail

Towards the bottom of Gorge Trail

After hiking for 3 hours along three different trails, we just barely made it to the nearest winery at 5:27pm. Apparently they all close at 5:30pm. We had a quick taste, picked up a few bottles of Penguin Bay wine and started the long drive back via Pennsylvania and New Jersey to "the other New York" .

Vineyard above Seneca Lake

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gainesville Screening!

This I will share with one sad and one happy eye (and yes this might be one of those awkward translations of a German saying that makes no sense in English - I sometimes mix that up):

Next week All God's Children will be screening at Story House in Gainesville, Florida. That's the town where Scott and I met and married, where I spent some of the happiest times of my life, where we still have some very dear and wonderful friends and where I've shot and screened my first videos (long before film school and all that complicating professionalism).

So that's of course the happy news.

The sad news is that I won't be able to go for budgetary reasons. (Instead I hope to go on some other trips already in the works. More about that later.)

Back to good news: Scott will be at the screening since he will already be in Florida! Together with film participants and former missionaries Ann and Rev. Dr. Howard Beardslee he will be answering questions after the screening.

Celino Dimitroff with the Story House in the background before it was turned into an art & culture space. (During a 2008 visit for All's Well and Fair add'l shoot)

The Story House is a very cool art space started by artists Wendy Michel and Celino Dimitroff. It actually happens to be an old church and the seats are actual pews. Ah, I can't believe I'll be missing that screening!

But I shall return to Gainesville with a film soon... whenever All's Well and Fair, which takes place there, is actually finished-finished.

Screening Details:

Friday, June 26th - 7pm
Storyhouse
11 SE 5th Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
Phone: 352-246-2195
Ann and Dr. Rev. Howard Beardslee and Scott Solary scheduled to attend

A huge thank you to Wendy Michel for organizing this event!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Faith Telegraph Article


A great article about All God's Children, written from the perspective of an MK (missionary kid), Laura Larson, is the leading headline on the front page of The International Faith Telegraph today.


Since most media coverage has focused on the subject of the film, we especially appreciated Laura Larson's assessment of the film's tone and technique and its effects:


As a film, All God's Children benefits from compelling storytelling and a lack of heavy-handed editing and commentary. There is no agenda here -- the stories speak for themselves and there is no effort by the filmmakers to diminish or "bash" Christianity.

The film's subtle approach makes the stories all the more effective, and all the more difficult to dismiss or explain away: How could men and women that supposedly love and serve God inflict such pain and abuse on children? There are no easy answers to this question, and All God's Children does not purport to provide any.

Please read the full article on Faith Telegraph.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

More Endorsements, More Screenings

Marilyn and Beverly Shellrude in Africa

Sparked by the latest (and high profile) endorsement we have received for our documentary All God's Children, I checked if I had ever posted any of them here on the blog. Apparently I hadn't. That's almost shocking, considering that I am so proud of all the positive reactions we've received from people who's work and insight I respect deeply.

So I will rectify this now. And yes, it sounds like we're boasting. But we feel so honored to have received all these endorsements that we want to share them. Also we don't have the budget for a PR person to do it for us.

But first a quick reminder about our next public screening:

Sunday June 14th, 2009 - 2:30PM
Curtis Baptist Church
Tannery Road
Campbell, NY 14821
Phone: 607-527-8137 (Shary Kroeker Hauber)


Shary Kroeker Hauber attended Mamou as well, a few years before the MKs in our film. What she had to witness and experience was just as devestating. She is co-hosting this screening together with her pastor Dale Ingraham and his wife Faith - together they run the "Speaking Truth in Love" Ministries (Stopping Sexual Abuse in the Body of Christ).


Dianne Darr Couts, her husband Pastor Bud Couts, Scott and I will attend the screening, which will be in the Finger Lake Region. It's supposed to be beautiful up there and we've never been. So we're excited about a little relaxing before and after the screening.


Now here the reactions to the film, we are so grateful for:


"I believe that this story is a valuable addition to the growing awareness of how children have been long sacrificed on the altar of God's work, and that alone will be healing for many of us, so thank you for that."

William Paul Young, author of The Shack
www.windrumors.com

-----

"All God's Children is both a disturbing reminder that the Christian community is not immune to abuse and also a deeply moving case study on the complex dynamics of healing from spiritual, emotional, sexual and physical wounds. The redemptive possibilities that emerge when survivors find the courage to tell the truth and support each other in the process of healing are powerfully illustrated.
I recommend it highly."

Dr. Dale S. Ryan, Associate Professor of Recovery Ministry
Fuller Theological Seminary

www.recoveryfromabuse.com

-----

"Deeply moving, the film tells of children who were cast onto the rocks of horrific abuse by the siren call of God's will. Yet years later, the wounded adults manage to shine a little light for all of us. Their stories stand as testimony to the transformative power of truth-telling."

Christa Brown, author This Little Light
and founder, StopBaptistPredators.org

-----

"Exposing a horrific scandal that's virtually never been highlighted anywhere, this deeply moving film is about far more than childhood betrayal. It's also about the heroic work of wounded adults to hold callous and deceitful church officials accountable for stunning crimes.
It's both jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring."

David Clohessy, national director of SNAP,
the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: SNAPnetwork.org

-----

All God’s Children tells a tragic story—one that no one really wants to hear, but one that responsible adults need to hear. It reminds us that all souls need saving, starting with the ones God has seen fit to put in our care."

Cliff Vaughn, EthicsDaily.com

-----

"I felt all that has been described here, It's hard to put into words how it affected me. I didn't attend Mamou but the boarding school I went to mirrored the experiences I saw on this film. I grieve for each of you, and for all of us with wounded children still hurting within us. [...]
The word needs to be spread. I felt deeply saddened by it, but also validated, that I'm "not the only one", and am not alone."

Suzie Baer - MK and former boarding school student

-----

"[...] brilliantly woven together, picking up the threads of the individual stories and unique personalities, to give us the powerful, collective drama. [I hope] that many more will have the desire and the courage to see this story [...] The message is as multi-faceted as the story, in fact. [These] lives stand as a testimony to the transformation of horrific suffering, a transformation that is contagious enough to bring about change in all who are willing to awaken."

Dee Ann Miller, advocacy writer, www.takecourage.org
author of How Little We Knew and The Truth about Malarkey

-----

“I've watched the [DVD]... it is powerful. [...] we both could hardly
sleep last night. I kept remembering things when I wakened during the night hours. I was reminded of the impotency of our lives there, our helplessness. [...] I know why I struggle with being an over achiever more clearly now, why I can't seem to rest, or be at peace.”

Vivian Harvey - author, MK and former Mamou Academy student

-----

"For Canadian Beverly Shellrude Thompson, participating in the project was both difficult and helpful. 'One of the things that has been my mantra is that the story needs to be told, that there's healing in telling the story,' she said from her home in Burlington, Ont. 'I've always carried in my head a deep shroud of secrecy that allowed both the pain and the system to go on.'"

Debra Fieguth, Faith Today

-----

"... Solary and Westphal's film is sad yet unflinching, and demonstrates what can happen when unsuspecting parents put too much faith in an institution. The tone of the film may be more than just cautionary, however: It could be humanitarian."

Joel Rozen, Sarasota Herald Tribune


And last but not least, from the amazon.com page for the film:

I own this DVD. It exposes the abuse that happens in the church and here specifically on the mission field. It shows the long term affect of abuse and the struggles to overcome these affects. Hopefully those who see this will work to stop abuse in our churches and on the mission field. I know these fact to be true and not exaggerated. I also went to Mamou and abuse was happening before the time shown in this film. A must see for church leaders.
-- Shary Kroeker H


I had the privilege of viewing this film at the Sarasota Film Festival in 2008, and later was able to speak with some of the courageous victims of the abuses discussed in the documentary. Their stories are disturbing but not uncommon. What is truly remarkable about this film is that its depth is in its simplicity. Rarely is a viewer taken to such a dark place through this type of footage. A year later, I continue to be haunted by the images of lost innocence and the knowledge of the atrocities that can take place when authority goes unchecked. As we watch history repeat itself all over the world, this film's relevance and message cannot be ignored.
-- John Coyne


I was privileged to attend a screening of this DVD and was very impressed with the production and the excellent information on this subject.
-- Carolyn


I had to buy this movie. I'm someone who is fascinated by religion's power over people. Whatever we think of this power, we can all agree that quite often this power is abused by the people who wield it. If you find this subject matter interesting, you'll want to see this. Especially in this time where many docs seem to strain to provide pure entertainment, it was refreshing to see a film that simply offers an unblinking look at its subject matter. It allows people to just tell their story - and when that story is something these people have kept inside for most of their lives - well, it's riveting just to hear them speak & oddly uplifting and cathartic to see these truths finally shared. All God's Children doesn't have heavy-handed voiceover narration, flashy graphics, etc...I found this refreshing. Instead, it takes actual film footage from the school that is the center of the story, and elegantly and quite hauntingly weaves these images throughout the film. What starts out as innocent-seeming images of children at play becomes increasingly disturbing simply by what you are learning as the film moves along. It's highly effective. I was glad to have watched this, I think you will be too.

-- N. Rufca

Friday, June 12, 2009

Asterix Recommends: Tele, Montag, Bad Lieutenant

Asterix David Westphal is an entertainment lawyer (formerly of Sony Music, independent for several years now), business manager for musicians, teacher at the Pop Akademie, former music and youth culture journalist, music aficionado and collector, drummer, all around cool guy and most importantly (to me anyway) my big brother.

Luci and Asterix - 1976

Since he's in Berlin and I'm in New York, we don't get to see each other that often. (Lately though, the discovery of Skype has made it possible that we "see" each other a little more often.) One way through which we continue to bond is our love for music, which we inherited from our parents. I believe my brother is on a constant quest of trying to beat the size of our dad's record collection. Good luck with that.


Luci and Asterix - 2007

We often recommend music to each other and I thought other people might enjoy Asterix' recommendations as much as I do.


These are the three songs/videos he recommended to me this week:

"Sommernacht" by Montag:




"Sink or Swim" by Bad Lieutenant (project of New Order members):




"Die Nacht ist Jung" by Tele:




And for some silly fun here is a hip-hop version of Radiopilot's current single "Immer Wenn Wir Träumen":



Thursday, June 11, 2009

Book Recommendation: "This Little Light"


"This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang" by Christa Brown was just published.

A few weeks ago I was invited to read a manuscript of Christa Brown's outstanding autobiographical account of falling prey to her Baptist pastor as a young teenager, her realization of how the sexual abuse affected her life as an adult, her attempts to find compassion and help from her denomination and finally become an advocate for other survivors of clergy abuse and to protect children from becoming victims.


At first I was just honored that I was asked to read an early copy. And then, as soon as I started reading I was pulled into this page-turner and thought how lucky I was to just read this book and be allowed an inside glimpse of this woman's experience. So much of it mirrored the accounts we collected while conducting our interviews with missionary kids (MKs) who were abused at their boarding school in Mamou, Africa.

Different organization, different individuals, different types of abuse - but the same misuse of power and the same denials when the survivor approaches the organization. And of course, there is always the reaction of: you are just bitter - why can't you just forgive what happened? Even the first comment to the first article (Associated Baptist Press) about the book is full of such accusations and demands. It always baffles me that the survivor continues to be under attack even years after the initial abuse is over. It takes so much courage to speak out and Christa Brown has my admiration. Read her response to that specific negative comment on her blog. By the way, the quote from our film she mentions: "It’s not that the victims are against forgiveness. Victims are against forgiveness as the solution to the problem because then the problem will go on and on [...]" is by Dianne Darr Couts.

I'm sure, "This Little Light" is going to help many people understand themselves and what has happened to them better and inspire and encourage them on their own journey of healing. Hopefully it will help families and communities to understand those who survived abuse. I also hope it will actually bring on some change to the system of reporting abuse and regulating who may work as a minister within the Baptist denomination and other organizations. Most certainly, this book was incredibly educational to me about the many aspects of clergy child abuse from the perspective of a survivor and advocate.

I highly recommend this book and am excited to finally be able to discuss it with everyone involved with All God's Children.


This is my official short assessment of the book:
"Moving, eye-opening, shocking and even suspenseful . . . Christa Brown does not hold back in this courageous account of her journey from impressionable clergy sex abuse victim to tenacious advocate."

Purchase "This Little Light" on amazon, on B&N or order it at your local bookstore.
Read the blog about "This Little Light"
Read Christa's Stop Baptist Predators Blog

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

POV's new website


And just barely in time (really a day too late re: my "free online movies" post) I received the POV update that this excellent series of documentaries airing on PBS now has a new website, which happens to also stream a select few of the documentaries they've shown. Right now there are only three on their full-length video page.

A few years ago I was impressed with the then POV executive Cara Mertes saying at an IFP Market seminar about the future of distribution (and away from the traditional TV and home DVD distribution) that she wasn't worried about the competition of the Internet because POV was already at the front lines of the integration between the Internet and television. Of course, shortly thereafter she left POV and became the Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Program.

And while it is true that POV has had an outstanding website for years, which took the conversation and the ideas of a given documentary much further than the initial broadcast, it is also interesting to note that they waited until this year to stream some of their featured films in their entirety online - and as mentioned, only three of them as of right now. I wonder if they will make different deals with filmmakers in the future to acquire the online rights to their films.

Ah, if only I could find out in person... While All God's Children didn't get selected for the highly selective series
last year, we received a very kind and encouraging hand-written (!) note from current executive director Simon Kilmurry. If you've ever received a (or a hundred) rejection letters, you know how special that is! So this year I'm encouraged to submit All's Well and Fair - even though I know it's a long shot. The only thing for sure is that it happens to be a film about women with lots of OPINIONS...

Please wish me luck. And watch a documentary!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Online Movie Giants

This is one of those "I know it's not breaking news - but maybe you didn't know about this yet" kind of posts.

So did you know that YouTube hosts full-length movies and TV shows? And I don't mean the ones that people illegally upload (chopped up in sections and all pixelated), but official decent quality versions published on YouTube by studios and distributors.

I remember that when hulu first went online I thought that it seemed like a silly idea to pull all the NBC content off of the popular YouTube and show it exclusively only on hulu. Who would go there to watch anything? Everyone is just on YouTube - and no one will watch NBC stuff online anymore.

Haha, I was proven wrong within a few very short weeks. I'm on hulu all the time now, watching more shows than necessary (catching up no a mediocre 3rd season of Heroes right now) and never turn on the actual television set anymore.
Who wants to be slave to a broadcast schedule when you can decide when you want to waste a perfectly good 42 minutes on some brain popcorn? We only use the TV set as a monitor for the laptop, the PS3/BluRay and the DVD player. Well, and actually also when we play CDs - for some reason the audio for the DVD/CD player is currently wired through the TV. Someone's going to fix that soon though, I'm sure...

So now that hulu has proven to be such a success, YouTube is the one that is trying to catch up and started hosting feature films, documentaries and old TV shows. Just like hulu, you can watch whenever you like, whatever you like. Just that the selection isn't quite as up-to-date.

But where else do you get the chance to watch the brilliant classic Koyaanisqatsi for free? The only catch: you can't embed the videos on your own site, like you can with regular YouTube posts. Bummer.

Other great sites to watch documentaries for free online:
SnagFilms - free documentaries
Frontline - previously aired on PBS with lots of extra material

And then there's the giant of finding shows and movies online wherever they may be lurking around (legal or illegal): Surf The Channel. I dare you to stump this directory. They list everything! Often with Korean subtitles. But hey, if you need to watch that episode of Buffy because that borrowed DVD is skipping...

Of course, there's always Netflix and iTunes - but neither of them are free. Soon there will also be the launch of Epix HD a film site owned by Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM... await to be wowed.

And in case you want to watch current TV shows that are not hosted online anywhere in decent quality and you've got some patience for going the BitTorrent way: EZTV seems to be the way to go. Of course, that might cross your legal/ethical ground rules. I'm going to remain silent on Pirate Bay all together.

So where do you like to watch?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Search This Blog - Share This Post

In a new-found quest to make my blog more useable and refrain from moving it to Wordpress, I just installed a few more improvements.

actual search box is in the right-hand column

On the right column you can now find a "Search This Blog" box. Just type in a term you are looking for and it will return a list of all the posts in this blog containing this term and even a list of all the websites I link to from this blog, which also include that search term. For example, you could find everything I ever linked to or wrote regarding "Mamou". Go ahead, search for something. How about Gainesville?

this is how results appear for the search term "Mamou" - the first tab is for my blog post

To add the "Search This Blog" box on Blogger/Blogspot, just go into Dashboard -> Layout -> Page Elements. Then click on "Add A Gadget". Right now it's listed under "new" and under "basic".

this is how results appear for the search term "Mamou" - the second tab is for links going out from this blog

In an effort to streamline the look a bit, I took out the "subscribe to this blog". It seems that most people now know that you can click on the RSS feed icon in the url window to subscribe through a reader. And if you aren't familiar with RSS readers, you probably would want to use the "subscribe by email" anyway, which is still there in the right column.

The other piece new to this blog, is a way to easily share blog posts directly on social networking sites. Below each post there now is a section called "Share".

share and social networking bookmark buttons before you click on "share"
(the actual share buttons are below the post)

If you click on "Share" you can instantly share the post to a ridiculous amount of different sites you frequent - the most popular are singled out directly, i.e., facebook, MySpace, Google Bookmarks and Twitter.

bookmarking icons after you click on "share"

To add the social networking bookmark icons to all kinds of services (including the new blogger / blogspot), go to addthis.com and follow the easy steps there. After scrambling with a bunch of html code that other sites recommended (and that still didn't work), I couldn't believe how easy it was to use this method. I'm so glad I found it eventually and I hope my post can help someone else.

I hope you like the new improvements to the Good Hard Working People Blog.

Please share this post or other posts from my blog that you find worth sharing by clicking on your preferred site's icon below.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Milestone Screening in Missouri

The St. Louis Arch and the near-by Catholic Church - in a sense this sums up our trip to Missouri (just add bunnies, brewery and brothers)

Scott and I traveled to Missouri for three days this week to attend a screening of All God's Children in St. Louis and to meet some of the wonderful people of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), who helped the Mamou Steering Committee back in the day, are supporting us in our outreach today and who set up the screening in St. Louis.

We had such an outstanding time in Missouri, which also included sight seeing in the city, relaxing in the country, meeting wonderful new people and finally getting to see Rich Darr again and spending more time with David Darr as well.

On Monday, after we flew into St. Louis on that horrifying "bus with wings" (with 42 seats the Canadair Regional Jet has 7 seats LESS than a Greyhound bus), we soothed our nerves with sweet sodas and diner food in University City's Loop at Fitz's Soda Bar and Grill, known since 1947 for its, you guessed it, sweet sodas.

We drove for a little over an hour through the country side to the Heaven on Earth Bed & Breakfast (two charming cabins in the woods), where the generous proprietors Judy Jones and Steven Spanner were hosting us and the Darr brothers. And not only that! Energy-bundle Judy Jones also is the person who set up the screening in St. Louis. She certainly deserves our first big THANK YOU!

Upon arrival there is a wild bunny sitting in front of our cabin (we chose "Ranch House Cabin" vs. "Cowboy Cabin") - it's almost too much cuteness
(photo by Scott)


For sunset on Monday, and again for a morning run on Tuesday, we drove to Washington, MO. On the way we passed several wineries, which we never got to sample, Daniel Boone's house, which we never got to be awed by and crossed the Missouri on a way-too-skinny bridge for such a large river. Part of our trip took us on Route 66 and on the Lewis and Clark Trail. Americana, hello!

Missouri River at sunset in Washington, MO

Tuesday we took off for St. Louis to get our tourist on before the screening in the evening. We totally did the Gateway Arch - in-between torrential thunderstorms. Here are way too many pictures of the arch (anytime you ask, I'll be happy to post another dozen or so):

Bright sunshine, heat and humidity...


The rain clouds are coming back


The sky is about to open up - time to find the nearest Imo's for some unique St. Louis pizza (which is just like the one we bake at home in Germany)

And then it was time to head over to Schlafly Bottleworks, who so generously offered one of their event spaces. We "retaliated" by having a pre-screening dinner with almost 30 people all at the same table. Just like so many of our friends from all over the country had before (when we were planning the trip), we can now highly recommend the food and, of course, Schlafly's beer.

Pre-screening dinner at Schlafly. From the right: Scott Solary, David Darr, Steven Spaner, Mary Ellen Kruger (of VOTF and SNAP)

The screening turned out to be a true milestone on our screening tour: we had an almost full house of survivors, survivors' families and other supporters. There was a reporter, a sign language translator and even a bartender serving drinks all night.

Schlafly Bottleworks

SNAP National Director David Clohessy, who had been so instrumental in helping the MKs over a decade ago when they first publicly pursued the CMA for reconciliation, moderated the screening and the Q&A with Rich & David Darr and Scott & me. He set a different tone from the beginning by asking in turn for different groups to stand up: SNAP, VOTF (Voice of the Faithful), survivors, survivor's families. By "outing" people, it actually created a much more comfortable and safe atmosphere. Everyone here understood.

And this may have led to another special experience: As soon as the film was over we received a standing ovation. In our usual experience people are not in an applauding mood right as the credits roll (they wait until the Q&A). It took us a screening or two to convince ourselves that it wasn't because they thought the film was terrible - but because the film leaves most people sad or even shocked. But this was a different audience; these were abuse survivors and their families. They didn't seem shocked or saddened as much as vindicated and understood. Wow, what an amazing feeling to stand in front of a room full of people who truly could relate and who could appreciated the work that had been done by the MKs, their families in their advocacy work and in making the film.

David Clohessy introduces the film and the audience. The pictures behind him are of 14 clergy abuse victims, 2 of which have committed suicide, 1 of which was in the audience!

An interesting aspect was that the majority of people affected by similar abuses in the room came from a Catholic background. It probably was significant for all to see the connection that reaches beyond the denominations. Furthermore there seemed to be inspiration going back and forth between individuals and groups. We certainly felt very motivated and inspired by the other people's activism, stories and reactions to keep showing this film and to keep working on the next one. There is no greater reward than engaging with an audience, which inspires.

Thank you to everyone who came out, listened, asked questions and shared.

Our biggest thank you still goes to the amazing David Clohessy, who has played such an important part in the journey of the Mamou MKs and now in our outreach with the film. He's a true maven with endless knowledge, suggestions, support, the energy of many men and maybe most importantly such sincere compassion. All this packaged in a personality that makes you think instantly that you've been friends with this person for decades. I am so glad we finally got to meet and feel very lucky to have him on our side.

Rich Darr, David Clohessy, David Darr

A very special thank you goes to the warm-hearted PR expert Linda Briggs-Harty for promoting the screening to the media. Thank you to Mary Ellen Kruger for selling the DVDs. Thank you also to Teresa Clark for translating the film into sign language. Last but not least, a big thank you to Schlafly for having the screening and to Nathaniel, the charming bartender, for creating such a relaxed atmosphere. It can't be denied what a thrill it was to have a screening in a room with a bar at the back, where people could order a stiff drink in the middle of the screening. I like to believe it made the film easier to digest for some.

Rich Darr and Linda Briggs-Harty after the screening

And of course, thank you to Rich Darr and David Darr for traveling all the way to Missouri to share their story
and be an inspiration to others. It took a lot to tell the story in the first place and I don't ever want to forget how intense it is for all of the MKs and the parents to sit through a public screening and show their vulnerability and share the horrors of their lives. They are such brave souls and in their name I would once more like to show my gratitude for all the audience members who have thanked them for their courage and tenacity.

Scott and the amazing Judy Jones leave Schlafly Bottleworks - in the background Linda Briggs-Harty

After saying good-bye to all the wonderful people we met, we drove through the night back to the B&B - luckily not hitting the raccoons and the skunk that crossed my path. Scott and I closed out the night on a fun note chatting with Rich, David and Stephen in the Cowboy Cabin.

Before we traveled back to our various states (Illinois, Ohio and New York) we all agreed over breakfast: Missouri was a wonderful experience and we're ready for more.

Our next screening (attended by Scott, me and Dianne Darr Couts - and organized by Mamou alumni Shary Kroeker Hauber) will take place:

Sunday June 14th, 2009 - 2:30PM
Curtis Baptist Church

Tannery Road

Campbell, NY 14821
Phone: 607-527-8137 (Shary Kroeker Hauber)

Please be in touch with me if you'd like to see the film screen in your town: you might be able to organize your own screening - or suggest a venue.

And please join us on facebook for the latest up-to-date news about the film and a place for you to add your own review or to participate in a discussion.