Thursday: 10:00 pm – Hendricks Art Center
Friday: 11:00 am – Rotary Center
Saturday: 6:30 pm – Katie’s Cup
When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
Category: Short | Double Feature
Language: Arabic w/ English subtitles
Runtime: 52 min.
Director: Iara Lee
Website: Suffering Grasses
Over a year later, with thousands dead and counting, the ongoing conflict in Syria has become a microcosm for the complicated politics of the region, and an unsavory reflection of the world at large. Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, NATO’s toppling of Moammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the complicated politics of the region, this film seeks to explore the Syrian conflict through the humanity of the civilians who have been killed, abused, and displaced to the squalor of refugee camps.
In all such conflicts, large and small, it is civilians—women and children, families and whole communities—who suffer at the leisure of those in power. While focusing on the plight of those caught in the crossfire of the hegemons, we seek to unravel the conflict by exploring the motivations of its actors—the Ba’athist regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army and other geopolitical players like the United States, Israel, Russia, China, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, the Gulf countries… When elephants go to war, it is the grass that suffers. This is a film about the elephants, but made for the grasses.
The Fourth World
Jovelyn Alquino-Philippines. Jovelyn is a 16-year-old girl who wants to be a nurse. She lives under a freeway bridge above a canal that empties into the Bay of Manila. Jovelyn, her parents and her four little brothers dig in Manila’s garbage each day looking for items to recycle. She spends her mornings at the local school. She is the only one of the five children that her parents can afford to educate.
Felix Ochieng—Kenya. Felix, 16, lives in Mathare Valley, one of the dirtier and nastier slums in Nairobi. Felix divides his time between school and selling maize in the muddy alleyways of Mathare to help the family finances. A typical day for him starts at 4 a.m. and ends with him earning about $1.40 for a full day’s work.
Selma—Guatemala. Selma’s mother sold her into the sex trade when she was nine years old. Believe it or not, the story gets worse from there.
Tanya—Guatemala. Shot in the spinal cord when she was 15 years old, Tanya now spends her days in a wheelchair at a busy intersection in Guatemala City, begging so she and her ailing father can live. Each morning, her father pushes Tanya out of the La Limonada slum into the city so she can earn the money needed for her medicines, catheter, food and shelter. If beggars are a nameless, annoying “group” to you, Tanya’s story will make you think twice next time you see one.
Paul Collier: In 2010, Paul was named by Foreign Policy magazine to its list of top global honors. In his native England, he was appointed CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He is Professor of Economics at Oxford University and the director at the, Centre for the Study of African Economies. He is also author of several important books, including:
The Plundered Planet
Wars, Guns and Votes
The Bottom Billion
Soukenya Ndiaye Ba: Soukenya is a former member of the Senegal government and is currently the executive director of INAFI, the International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions. This organization “envisions a world where the poor are empowered and given the opportunity to enjoy sustainable livelihood through affordable alternative financial services and active participation in their own development. A world where even the poorest of the poor enjoy life with dignity, sufficient food and income security to meet basic needs including shelter, clothing, health care and education.”
Mike Davis: Mike is an American Marxist social commentator, urban theorist, historian and political activist who lives and works in Southern California, USA. Mike is a distinguished professor in the department of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. Mike is the author of several books, including:
Planet of Slums
Dead Cities, And Other Tales
In Praise of Barbarians: Essays against Empire
Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb
Having a dozen people on one crew is way too many people when you’re working in the close quarters of a slum, so on these trips, our college students broke up into small teams of about three per team. We laid the ground work months in advance for each team to spend about a week with a Christian NGO to help them develop promotional material to help advance their work.
While a few students worked with Volkers on The Fourth World, the rest worked on helping their NGO tell their story and promote their work among the poor. The end result is that not only are we able to produce The Fourth World, but we have also produced several smaller pro bono pieces to help those organizations that are doing excellent work among some of the world’s poorest people.
Traveling with college students to shoot in some of the most impoverished places on earth was a rare treat not just for the producer, but for the people we encountered on the way. With the world as small as it is, a 20-year-old American can very quickly find common ground with a 20-year-old Kenyan or Guatemalan or Indian or whatever the country may be. It was a two-way street as one challenged the other to see things in new ways, to respond to one another in new ways. Seeing the Fourth World through fresh eyes was a privilege.