Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘documentary’

My Mother Was Murdered

Excerpt featuring Lee Mun Wah. From Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call.

lee-mun-wah“Your mother’s been murdered!” The woman who gave you birth is dead. Her life intentionally ended by another man. This was the cold reality Mr. Lee had to face in 1985. Feelings of fear, anger, rage and revenge soon replaced the numbed existence of shock. Instead of letting these intense, understandable reactions control his life, Mr. Lee searched for answers. He began to reach out, to confront and explore the ingrained, unconscious attitudes that lead to hate and violence, and discovered a way to shift the imbalances of power, heal the wounds and open our hearts.

As a seminar leader, speaker and filmmaker, Mr. Lee’s work has been highly visible, effective and utilized throughout the nation. His first film Stolen Ground, about racism towards Asian-Americans, won special merit at the San Francisco International Film Festival. His second video, of a weekend encounter group for men, The Color of Fear, won the 1995 National Education Media Award for best social studies documentary and has been used in thousands of organizations and businesses to deal with and discuss prejudice, bias and race. 

LEE MUN WAH:

I was born in Oakland, California at a time when people were living in mixed neighborhoods. I had a real glimpse of what a community could look like with all different ethnicities. My parents were very poor, though as a child I didn’t know that. Some of the distinct things I remember were that there were very few Asians in my classes and very few or almost no Asian-American or African-American teachers. When I noticed this consciously it became a real loss.

I was born into a very alive, dynamic family. I always thought that all Chinese families were like this. It wasn’t until later that I realized my father was a very unique man who really believed in going out in the world and creating what you wanted. He influenced me greatly in that way. My mother was very warm and personable; very intimate and in that way created my sense of family, of being close to people.

A lot of these life experiences prepared me, without my knowing, for the type of work I do now, when I talk about the country having a national relationship. It’s about how a family treats each other. I don’t think it’s just a sense of family, it’s also part of our Asian, Chinese culture . . . that we’re there for one other . . . that we respect and honor each others needs . . . the warmth, security and safety of a family . . . being up front and honest . . . trying to be a good person in the world and with those you meet. A number of people have that in there culture as well, but I don’t think many have made the connection of family into a larger community, in a global or workplace perspective and I think that is the missing link.

The American thing is often, “Me, me, me!” Business is first and task oriented and not loyal to workers. When business is down or they’re “restructuring” and they lay you off, they’re actually saying, “You are no longer needed, the company is more important.” It isn’t about taking care of the people who work for you but about having them compete with each other. I don’t run my family or workplace that way. And when I go out into the world that’s something I work for, to change that paradigm.

I don’t think you can legislate an end to racism. You have to have a change of heart. That’s why I talk about a relationship. It’s the only real connection we have. Often, we don’t act until there’s a crisis. What we need to realize is that the crisis is happening every single day and there’s always something you can do to address it.

We’ve never understood culture in this country. We think it’s the food, the costume or the holiday, but we don’t touch what it really means to us on a spiritual, emotional, ancestral way. When the American Indian tells us that it’s not enough to pass the sage around the room but to really understand where that comes from. To understand the relationships and the way we treat each other; that it’s really expressed in our movements, in what we don’t say, the way we hold each other, the way we wait for and acknowledge one other. We don’t take the time to really look, to really experience. Americans want everything fast . . tangible. The American Indian is right when they say, “You want my customs, my rituals and my land, but you don’t want me.” What we do is we use people and cultures. We use them when it’s convenient, for a service, for artifacts. Rarely do we take the time to understand how we relate to each other.

We don’t look into the realm of what we don’t know. I think that’s the part I’m talking about. When I do workshops I have people look around the room, listen to silence; listen to what’s not being said, to bodies that are talking all the time. We usually don’t listen to the nonverbal, to the energy in a room, to the impact of our ancestors that have brought us to this place. We are very present and future oriented but don’t pay enough homage or respect to the past. When are we open to learn from other cultures . . . to integrate values from other cultures? When companies say they’re multi-cultural or multi-racial I ask them to name one cultural factor they’ve integrated, that they see as practical, as useful, that they use every single day.

The turning point for me (after my mother was murdered) was when I wrote a play in which I acted out facing my Mom’s murderer. It also helped to look at the context from where it came. I tried to find and talk to the man who killed my mother, to no avail. On the day we finished The Color of Fear he was sentenced to life in prison. He’d killed four or five other women in addition to my Mom. Before that I had continued trying to contact his family. It turns out that some of his relatives lived in a home we’d been renting. It was really shocking. I talked to the woman who lived there and she said a cousin of hers had killed someone as well. When she went to his trial she had to leave because all she could see was “The little boy I’d grown up with”. She told me, “You may never know why he did it.”

Had my mother not been murdered, I’d never had made the film (The Color of Fear). I began to really see and sense that perhaps there was a meaning to this. It serves my healing and in many ways it’s healing for this country as well, because surely if I can go through this then others can open their hearts and have compassion as well. I’m not so sure hatred or guns or bars do any good . . . it only makes fear larger. Fear is not something you can protect yourself from, you have to walk through it.

More inspiring stories at Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call

Films That Transform

Films That Transform

Kathy Barbini and Simon Weinberg at Big Boy Pictures have produced two films that are a must see for those who desire personal and communal peace and healing.
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Boys and Men Healing is a documentary about the impact the sexual abuse of boys has on both the individual and society, and the importance of healing and speaking out for male survivors to end the devastating effects.

The Healing Years, broke ground in the field of women’s issues and child sexual abuse prevention. The film has been broadcast on PBS stations nationwide, screened in international film festivals and leading conferences worldwide, and has become an acclaimed film in the field of child sexual abuse prevention for training and education.

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BIG VOICE PICTURES produces social issue documentaries that give voice to emerging and cutting-edge issues, with the intention of motivating discussion, creating change, and offering new insights and hope for individuals, families, and communities through strategic national outreach campaigns and collaboration with communities and organizations. Their films have received worldwide distribution and recognition.

From Trauma To Peace

From Trauma to Peace

Can we transform TRAUMA and its debilitating states of anger, violence and hate, to PEACE – compassion, forgiveness, hope and love? We can, and it’s beginning to happen in isolated regions of Africa.

Kamal, a young Rwandan boy, suffered many atrocities. The scenes of his mother dying of AIDS and his uncle being killed in front of him during the 1994 genocide were always before his eyes. A massacre he witnessed in a refugee camp in Uganda added to those terrifying images; images that were always in front of him, like they were happening today. The traumas of the past haunted him. They gripped him in fear and limited his ability to move into a hopeful future.

Then, a team of therapists brought TFT or tapping (a unique healing modality using the body’s meridian system) to the orphanage. Kamal began tapping, struggling to focus on the horrid past, but within minutes, he jumped up and shouted, “It’s gone! It’s gone!” He danced around the room. He pulled his therapist up and danced with him. He dashed outside and ran around joyfully. He came back in and hugged his therapist. He became free of the past. Kamal can now feel joy, and he can focus on his future.

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Jean Pierre, a Rwandan man, was forced to watch his wife and children being massacred. He was then attacked himself and left for dead. He bears the wounds from the machete on the back of his head. He heard about the miracle tapping the orphans were doing and came to ask for help. He too had nightmares and flashbacks for over 12 years. One of the therapist team members tapped with him, and he too got over his nightmares and his anger and hatred toward others. But the real telling change was not just relief of his suffering, it was his spiritual transformation. Three days later, he attended a church service at the orphanage where he said he had been given the gift of healing, and he volunteered to take three orphaned children into his home and raise them. He had his life back and was now reaching out with love and forgiveness.

There are now over 100 Rwandan community leaders using TFT to treat members of their communities, members like Jean Pierre and Kamal. The mission of the TFT Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is to spread the use of TFT and its profound benefits throughout the world. Many Rwandan and Ugandan therapists are already trying to help us do that.

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The TFT Foundation has developed and proven a model that can bring TFT training to any traumatized community, where the leaders can be trained to help their fellow countrymen. In three random controlled studies (two in Rwanda and one in Uganda – one published and two being prepared for publication), the results have been highly significant. Two-year follow-ups have demonstrated that the results not only last, but the symptom reduction improves over time.

The Foundation has documented the changes and healing of this region in Rwanda, and the beginning of the healing process in Uganda, over the last six years. The completion of the documentary, “From Trauma To Peace,” will enable us to share this model of healing trauma with many more regions of the world. The film will be of the quality needed for PBS and film festivals.

A mayor in the Northern Province of Rwanda commented: “People who I have never seen smile, are smiling. People who were not productive, are now productive.”

Please help the TFT Foundation continue sharing and expanding this transformational healing on a global scale. This film will help us create the awareness that entire traumatized communities can help themselves and others end suffering.

The film and its distribution will serve as a way to raise money to help the Rwandans, Ugandans, and others use TFT to help their countrymen. Your donation will go toward the completion of the filming, editing, promotion, and distribution of this important documentary. Additional funds from the campaign will go directly to the centers actually helping the people, assisting them to become self-sufficient and productive. People CAN break the cycle of violence and feel hope and joy again. Please help us in our efforts to bring peace to our world, one person–and one community–at a time, through TFT.

See more at Trauma2Peace.

I Am by Tom Shadyac

Went and saw I Am, a documentary by Tom Shadyac, with a friend yesterday. Very important, insightful and challenging film. The theater was packed when we got there, as the film is becoming more well known. The movie and director were both featured on Oprah last week.

In some respects, I Am is similar to What the Bleep Do We Know?. It takes different scientific studies and scientists, to explain how connected all life on the planet is (not just theoretically, but actually). He also interviews various philosophers, spiritual leaders and thinkers to get their views on “What is wrong with the world and what can we do to make it better?”

I Am is different from What the…, because it is much more personal, well photographed and edited (he had more money to do so) and it also looks closely at the cancer of consumption and wanting “more” as symptoms of the human race which may be our demise, if we do not wake up and take another path.

Mr. Shadyac doesn’t preach, but shares the insights he had after accumulating a great deal of wealth (from making movies like Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Patch Adams, etc.), having an accident and re-evaluating his life purpose. He also explores how other biological systems interact, cooperate and communicate. Most people leave this movie with a good feeling and a desire to do good.

The following words from the films website provides an accurate summary.

“Shadyac’s enthusiasm and optimism are contagious. Whether conducting an interview with an intellectual giant, or offering himself as a flawed character in the narrative of the film, Shadyac is an engaging and persuasive guide as we experience the remarkable journey that is I AM. With great wit, warmth, curiosity, and masterful storytelling skills, he reveals what science now tells us is one of the principal truths of the universe, a message that is as simple as it is significant: We are all connected – connected to each other and to everything around us.”

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