Saturday, August 22, 2009

Seattle here I come...

This is going to be brief post. It's getting late and I'm leaving for Seattle early in the morning. And I haven't even packed yet.

All God's Children will be screening in Seattle on Tuesday at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church.

The same day there will also be an article about it in the Seattle Times. Marilyn and I were interviewed by the reporter Janet Tu yesterday. For that piece (and any future requests) Scott and I finally had some headshots taken yesterday. Talented photographer Jamie Penkethman was so kind to take some great shots during a break from the rain yesterday (no break from the humidity yet). Thank you, Jamie!

The screening in Seattle is co-hosted by FaithTrust Institute. The organization's founder Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune recently wrote on her blog about the film and also the similar cases that prompted investigations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church.

I'm really looking forward to being in Seattle again (a city I'm very fond of) to being with Marilyn and her family again, to seeing the city through the eyes of my Seattle-born Brooklyn friend Katie and also to my train trip to Portland where I'll finally get to hang out again with my dear friend Tobias, who I went to school with in Germany, and his wife Rachel and new-born daughter Kaya. And all that within less then a week...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Christianity Today Article online now

Brandon Fibbs' thorough review of All God's Children first published in the August issue of Christianity Today is now online.

The online version includes links to the previous two Christianity Today articles about the Mamou MKs: the article that broke the story to the Beardslee parents and an article about the C&MA apology. We really appreciate that the online editor added those resources.

Also, the online version of the article gives the opportunity to leave a comment and rate the article. Please do so if you have the time.

I wrote about the article before in a post on August 5th.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Impressions from the NYC Screenings

On August 11th, at Tribeca Cinemas, we finally had the New York City premiere of All God's Children.

After having been invited into the homes and lives of the people featured in the documentary and getting to know their families and some of their most intimate stories so well, it meant a lot to us to finally be able to share a bit of who we are with them by being able to invite them into our home, our city and introduce them to some of our friends.

And it was one of the most wonderful experiences for us to finally let our friends see what we’ve been up to all these years. Even though some of our friends and peers had seen various incarnations of the film throughout the making of it, none of them had hat the experience of witnessing the survivors featured in the film talk about the reality of their story face-to-face. We believe that it adds a whole other level of emotion and understanding and we were grateful to finally be able to share this experience.

So all together the New York screening and all the wonderful visiting (delicious lunches and dinners and Brooklyn bagel breakfasts, walks through Brownstone Brooklyn and Tribeca and various sights and always talking, talking, talking) were a huge success.

A big thank you goes out again to everyone from the film who was able to travel to New York for the screening: Marilyn Shellrude Christman and daughter Sarah, Beverly Shellrude-Thompson and husband Ernie and daughter Nicole, Dianne Darr Couts and husband Bud and Rev. Richard Darr.

The next thank you goes to everyone in the audience for being so welcoming and interested - for all the great questions and suggestions; and also again another big thanks to those of you who helped throughout the years with your feedback, suggestions and support.

And finally thank you to all who made the New York screening such a success: first of all, Sylvia Savadjian for the publicity, Tara Littman for hooking us up at Tribeca Cinemas, Ryan for coordinating the event, the entire Tribeca Cinemas staff for being such great hosts and last but not least, Katie Ainslie and Emily Ruzzo for selling tickets and working the door, Matt Weiss for recording the Q&A and Bud Couts for manning the merchandise table and Alex Ward for the beautiful flowers.

Here are some impressions from the NYC Screening events:

Arrival in Brooklyn. Beverly Shellrude-Thompson, daughter Nicole, husband Ernie and niece Sarah are greeted by the summer heat on the way to their hotel. Bud Couts, who we had driven up with from DC Sunday night, is always the gentleman and helps with luggage.

It wouldn't have been the same without the help of these dear friends. On the left, one of our friends from the pre-NYC film school days, Matt Weiss, recorded the Q&A for archiving. BFF and filmmaker Katie Ainslie and Emily Ruzzo are working the RSVP list and are selling a ticket to another friend, Ginger Albertson. Thank you all for your help and support!

The amazing publicist Sylvia Savadjian never stops working. But why is STV The Reeler VanAirsdale not writing something? Thank you, Sylvia, for your wonderful work in publicizing this screening! And thank you STV for your blog post and continued support.

Tom Lino, filmmaker and sound designer, brought all the pictures and previously silent Super 8 footage in the film to life. We cannot celebrate Tom enough. Next to him is his niece Tatjana and in the background are Justin Day and Eric Mortensen, some of the masterminds behind

Long-time friend and filmmaker Anne Carkeet with Scott before the screening.

Scott with our neighbors and friends Jeff and Beth Knowlton. Behind them another neighbor, Tony Falwell, is just arriving.

Usually we don't post pictures of the audience - to preserve everyone's privacy. But in this case we didn't think you'd mind - especially since you can't see anyone too clearly - and everyone has red eyes.

Thank you all so very much for coming out to watch the film and to support the MKs through your warm reception and interested questions and suggestions.

I can't help but give extra kudos to Jesse Cowell (in the front) for his excellent web series Drawn By Pain (about a girl growing up with an abusive father and her journey of empowerment).

Bev and Marilyn on the red carpet outside Tribeca Cinemas.

Katie, Emily and Adele at the after party in the "dining room" of Tribeca Cinemas. Exactly 10 years ago Scott worked his first NYC job in that very room as a waiter when it was still a restaurant & art house theater called Screening Room. At the time he also interned at Good Machine, which was across the street (and eventually closed as well). In-between we've attended many film parties at the venue. It's been a long road - but we couldn't have had a better full-circle location for the NYC premiere of our first full-length film.

The day after the screening Bev, Rich, Marilyn, Scott and I went for a relaxing walk through Park Slope up to Grand Army Plaza and...

... into Prospect Park. All the while scheming our next steps with the film and listening to their plans for more advocacy work.

Moved, inspired, motivated, energized and also gratified. A wonderful week full of wonderful people, conversations, contemplations and companionship.

Very excited about what's next. Later this week I'll be flying to Seattle...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Impressions from the DC Screenings

We've had the most amazing experience over the last week with two All God's Children screenings in Washington, DC and one in New York City.

It was wonderful to spend more time with some of the people who are featured in the film and their families, all of whom have become our friends and are such an incredible addition to our lives. After a week of being with them and together sharing our film with others, I am certain that creating and sharing this film and spending time with these lovely people is one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences in my life so far.

During our time in DC - both at the SNAP conference as well as at St. Marks Episcopal Church - we met a lot of very interesting and inspiring people who are doing admirable work for the sake of abuse survivors and to prevent child and sexual abuse. We all came away inspired and motivated and are grateful for all the wonderful conversations and suggestions. I will try to follow-up with another post with links to some of these people's sites.

For now here are some impressions in images and words from our time in Washington, DC.

Upon arrival in Washington, DC, on Friday August 7th, Scott and I managed to do a quick walking tour of some the sights... It was blazing hot so we took some refuge in the shadow of the National Monument.

The Reflecting Pool, The World War 2 Memorial, The National Monument and The Capitol from the point-of-view of the Lincoln Memorial.

The Lincoln Memorial - photographed at this angle so I could post the picture in my office ;-)

Scott at our table at the SNAP conference, August 8th

The room fills for our screening at the SNAP conference. On the right Mrs. Maryland, LaQuisha Hall, is about to sit down. She ran on the platform of "End Sexual Violence". Wow!
Washington, DC - August 8, 2009
(photo by Bud Couts)

Marilyn Shellrude Christman with daughter Sarah and Kari Mikitson, an MK who is doing an amazing job collecting abuse stories from the New Tribes Mission boarding school in Fanda, Senegal and getting ready to take the next step... Check out her blog Fanda Eagles

Right after the screening, Luci introduced the attending Mamou alumni: Marilyn Shellrude Christman, Bevery Shellrude-Thompson and Dianne Darr Couts. In the foreground sits Barbara Blaine, the founder of SNAP.
(Photo by Bud Couts)

Beverly Shellrude-Thompson answers questions during the Q&A after the screening at the SNAP conference.
(Photo by Sarah Christman)

I get to answer some questions as well.
(Photo by Sarah Christman)

Bud Couts again was kind enough to be our official head counter and sales person after the screening. The woman signing up for the mailing list wondered if MK SafetyNet had made any connections to UNICEF. So many great ideas and suggestions came up during the conference.
(Photo by Dianne Darr Couts)

Scott and Marilyn share a smile the morning after the SNAP conference screening.
Washington, DC - August 9, 2009

A historic moment. Marilyn, Dianne and Beverly sit down with SNAP leaders David Clohessy and Barbara Blaine to discuss the option of MK SafetyNet becoming a chapter of SNAP.

Beautiful St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill right behind the Library of Congress. Thank you to Lynda Smith-Bugge and everyone at St. Marks who made our screening possible.
Washington, DC - August 9, 2009

Beverly and Dianne inside St. Mark's Episcopal Church. Because the church is getting a new floor we got see it without the pews. An amazing effect with the reflecting floors.

Because the floor is being redone, Lynda Smith-Bugge's wood sculpture (Easter Cross) is currently kept safe in a backroom instead of representing in the sanctuary.

During the screening at St. Mark's Episcopla Church. The first one in a bright room. The projection looked fine and we were finally able to get a picture while the film is playing.

Dianne answers a question during the Q&A while Beverly and Lynda listen.

Scott answers questions during the Q&A together with Dianne, Beverly and screening organizer Lynda Smith-Bugge.

Lynda Smith-Bugge, who is an alumni of C&MA missionary kids boarding school Quito Alliance Academy in Ecuador, organized the screening at her church on Capitol Hill. A moment of elation after a successful screening with a mostly warm, receptive and inspiring audience.

After the screening at St. Mark's Episcopal Church: Scott Solary and Beverly Shellrude-Thompson with her husband Ernie and daughter Nicole.

Marilyn Shellrude Christman with her daughter Sarah and Beverly Shellrude-Thompson with her daughter Nicole.

During the Q&A a little earlier, Sarah had just shared, in an unforgettable moment, how Mamou and the repercussions for her mother had in turn effected her own life and that after years of resentment towards those that had hurt her mother and family she was now able to stand up and express how proud she is of her mother and her aunt Bev and all the work they have done to help others. There couldn't have been a dry eye in the entire room.

The entire crew at a Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill. Some of us are about to get in the car for a 5-hour drive up to NYC...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NYC Premiere Tonight (and DC was great)

Our screenings in DC were amazing and we were so fortunate not only to spend more time with some of the people in the film and their families but also to meet so many amazing people at the SNAP conference and at St. Marks Episcopal Church. More about the screenings and a few pictures later when things have calmed down a bit.

Because NOW it's time for the New York City premiere of
All God's Children...

Tuesday, August 11th at 7:30 pm
Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street

Tickets are $10

Scott and I will be leading a discussion with four of the participants from the film (Beverly, Marilyn, Dianne and Rich) immediately following the screening. We will also be offering discounted DVDs for sale ($10) as well as a complimentary drink at the reception after the Q&A.

Purchase your ticket online (recommended) or just RSVP (but make sure you get to the venue on time):

A big thanks again to Sylvia Savadjian for all her help with publicity and to all the writers and bloggers who've mentioned the screening so far: NY Post, The Reeler, Jump Cuts, indieWIRE and Hammer To Nail.

Friday, August 7, 2009

DC Screenings

Marilyn and Beverly Shellrude during their childhood in Africa

All God's Children will be screening twice in the DC area this weekend.

The first screening, on Saturday night, will be part of the SNAP National Conference. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the definitive support and advocacy group for clergy abuse victims of various denominations.

We are not only eager to share our film with the attendees of the conference but also to find out more about others' advocacy work and to finally meet some of the great people we've been communicating with over email and phone only.

One of the big perks of traveling with the film is that we usually get to spend time with participants from the film. In D.C. we'll be seeing Dianne, and after much too long, Marilyn and Beverly and their families.

The second screening, on Sunday, is a free public screening at a church on Capitol Hill. We are very grateful to sculpture artist Lynda Smith-Bugge for organizing this screening. Although she has nothing to do with the stories depicted in our film, she is also an alumni of an Alliance boarding school. The school she attended, Quito Alliance Academy, is another school that has brought forth reports and stories of child abuse but one that CMA still chooses not to have investigated.

The screening details:
Saturday - August 8, 2009 - 7:30pm
SNAP National Conference

Hyatt Regency Crystal City

at Reagan National Airport
2799 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, Virginia, 22202

(Washington, D.C.)
Phone: SNAP, 312-455-1499

Marilyn Shellrude Christman, Beverly Shellrude-Thompson,
Dianne Darr Couts, Luci Westphal, Scott Solary scheduled to attend.


Sunday - August 9, 2009 - 4pm

St. Marks Episcopal Church - Capitol Hill
Third and A Streets, SE
Behind the Library of Congress

(mailing address: 118 Third Street, SE)

Washington, DC 20003

Marilyn Shellrude Christman, Beverly Shellrude-Thompson,
Dianne Darr Couts, Luci Westphal, Scott Solary scheduled to attend.


And for next week: Tuesday August 11th is the New York City premiere. There are still some tickets available.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Christianity Today Article

The August issue of Christianity Today, the leading Evangelical magazine, features a detailed review of All God's Children written by film critic Brandon Fibbs.

The online version won't be available until August, 10th. But I'm so excited about it that I didn't want to wait any longer. Of course, the print edition is available at bookstores throughout the US.

Christianity Today was one of the first publications to write about the accusation of child abuse occurring at the Mamou Alliance boarding school for missionary kids. As a matter of fact, the Beardslee parents first found out about the abuse that happened at their kids school through that article, which was published decades after the mistreatment took place.

Because this is a highly respected publication within the Evangelical community (it's published by Christianity Today International, which was founded by Billy Graham), the positive review and its position are exceptionally meaningful to the abuse survivors participating in our film.

Two quotes from the article:

All God's Children struggles to find meaning amid grief compounded by decades of disregard and a willful lack of justice. It also serves as a clarion call to organizations that would ignore and suppress the truth rather than drag it kicking and screaming into the light."

" 'How many African souls were worth my soul?' an adult asks with the pleading intonations of a child. The tragic implications are clear: All God's Children forces us to ask ourselves, What does it gain a man if he saves the whole world but loses his own children?"

We really appreciate Brandon Fibbs' interest and tenaciousness in following the story, writing such a thorough review and getting it published in the magazine.

Update 8/18: The Christianity Today article is now online.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Favorite Songs of 2nd 1/4 of 2009

Time flies and the year is more than half-way over. Here is the list of my favorite songs during the second quarter of 2009:

Straight To Hell by Lily Allen

Search And Destroy by Peaches

Nothing To Worry About by Peter Bjorn And John

15 to 20 by The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Actor Out Of Work by St. Vincent

Knocked Up (live) by Lykke Li

Lua by Conor Oberst & Gillian Welch

Laughing With by Regina Spektor

First Of The Gang To Die by Zee Avi

I Want to Go to the Beach by Iggy Pop

Carry Me by Malcolm Middleton

Prison Girls by Neko Case

Nikorette by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band

Honey In The Sun by Camera Obscura

Long Walks by The Lovely Feathers

Percussion Gun by White Rabbits

Sheena Is A Punk Rocker by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

What's The Matter Now? by Popup

The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid by The Decemberists

Regarding the last song, I actually like "The Rake's Song" a bit better musically - but I just couldn't stand by the lyrics, especially not after having spent most of the 2nd 1/4 traveling with our documentary about child abuse survivors.

And because she's so beautiful to watch (and because I'm so excited that a live version is finally available after searching high and low last year and only finding the official remix together with Kings of Leon), here's Lykke Li performing "Knocked Up" on Carson Daly: