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A Requiem for Cambodia
Arts, Community, History, Human Rights, Refugees, Rural, Social Justice
In 2017 a world tour premiering in Australia will present a new symphonic stage production to commemorate the genocide of two million Cambodians who died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge regime -Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia. This documentary will tell the story of its staging, a fusion of music, voice, movement and projected images, as well as a story of human survival & the renaissance of an artistic life that disappeared along with more than a third of Cambodia's population less than forty years ago. Two childhood survivors of that genocide are contemporary artists Rithy Panh world-renowned filmmaker and Him Sophy, composer. They are collaborating for the first time on a unique Requiem representing their shared history. Most Cambodians are Buddhists who believe that the dead will not rest in peace or be reborn without proper religious rituals and this Requiem’s libretto, based on Bangsokol a traditional Buddhist ritual for the dead, will combine Western chamber music and chorus with traditional Khmer instruments and vocalists. The Requiem has been commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts a not-for-profit organization leading Cambodia’s artistic and cultural redevelopment. CLA’s vision is to revive their lost arts & bring international attention to the role the arts can play in rebuilding war torn societies. This production is huge for impoverished Cambodia. In four years they lost a whole generation of the educated, artists and musicians leaving a cultural wasteland. Needing help CLA called on international performing arts professionals. New York based theatre and events specialist Rachel Chanoff is producer. Australian Gideon Obarzanek a world renowned director & choreographer is Creative Stage Consultant. Trent Walker an American scholar with years of experience studying Asian Buddhist texts, ritual and music has written the libretto. The international professionals are aware of the high stakes involved in mounting this ambitious work. Cambodian musicians will travel with the production but Western-style musicians must be sourced elsewhere, an expensive undertaking. Phloeun Prim CEO of CLA, himself a child survivor, is responsible for fundraising. He travels the world speaking to arts organisations, philanthropists & governments seeking partnerships. One successful collaboration is with the government of Taiwan. The first real rehearsal will be in a Taipei theatre with the Taiwan Philharmonic Orchestra, cast, props and costumes in March 2017 and that is where our documentary shoot must begin capturing the rehearsal and personal stories. Rithy Panh, Him Sophy, Phloeun Prim and the Cambodian musicians all with their own experiences of life under the Khmer Rouge and reasons for being involved with this Requiem. The film will follow their stories through preproduction leading up to the premiere performance at the Melbourne Festival before it tours to New York, Montreal, Abu Dhabi, Paris and eventually Cambodia.
Arts, Community, Human Rights, Refugees, Social Justice
Two musicians seeking asylum in Australia encounter the Scattered People, a small band of kindred spirits who play music and create songs with asylum seekers and refugees as they discover their new identities. But will they find refuge in a country of sharply divided attitudes? Our film is in late production stage and we are seeking completion funds. We need assistance now for final filming, editing, finalising and distribution of the film. Scattered People is a documentary about the transformational and healing power of music, bringing together people, cultures and countries while exploring the multiple levels at which music has a positive therapeutic impact. With the help of musicians including Missy Higgins, John Butler, Michael Franti, Archie Roach and more, we also explore how music can help unite, heal and restore our compassion for some of the most vulnerable people on our planet. A little girl in Iran listens with her father secretly playing illegal western music. Pink Floyd is a favourite but if they are discovered, it would be dangerous and potentially life threatening. Now a young woman in Australia, Saha’s voice is heard singing Pink Floyd’s On The Turning Away as part of the Scattered People’s third album, Sugarmill Road, produced by GANGgajang’s Robbie James. A fusion of eastern and western influences, each of the songs has been brought to life with passion and dedication, evident when Robbie shares his creative process on camera. Following a chance observation of Chileans playing guitar with Iranians, Sri Lankans, Afghans and others gently swaying in the background, Brian Procopis a Community Development Practitioner is allowed to bring music into immigration detention facility BITA (Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation) and the seeds of the Scattered People’s third album are born. Saha and Mas are young, they have dreams, they love music and all they want is the freedom to live a safe life. We recall the separate historical journeys of two asylum seekers from Iran, in detention and community centres, meeting the Scattered People band and through to professional recording studios where high quality music gives voice to the voiceless. We discover how music breaks down barriers, gives them purpose, shapes their identities and builds an inclusive community culture. Saha and Mas are welcomed into a new life in a new country through the healing power of music yet at the same time still live in a suffocating limbo on temporary protection visas. Featuring personal insights and research from a host of prominent Australian musicians (Katie Noonan, Dan Sultan, Vince Jones, Harry James Angus, Mark Callaghan, Ash Grunwald, Eric Bogle, Gyan), artists (Tom Keneally), specialist lawyers, academics, social commentators (Hugh Mackay) and veterans of the immigration and advocacy field, this documentary also explores Australia’s polarised attitudes toward people seeking asylum and refugees.
Aged, Arts, Community, Education, History, Human Rights, Rural, Social Justice, Welfare
The Letter is an intimate family portrait, driven by impassioned characters as they struggle with an inter-generational conflict along Kenya’s coastal province. Kaladze finds out on facebook that his grandmother, Margaret has been accused of being a witch and that her life is in danger. From the streets of Mombasa, Kaladze returns to his ancestral rural home in Kaloleni to discover that these accusations come mostly from members of his own family. His love for his grandmother incites an interrogation which reveals greedy motivations behind these accusations. The most disturbing is that his family, the Kamango’s are not the only ones. This haunting trend has infected nearly every family in the region with identical indictments. Witchcraft is being used as a cover-up for family disputes over land, inheritance and money. Elderly landowners are being eliminated without any legal recourse, and a wave of silence has descended over the region. Every month, more than twenty elderly people are accused as witches and killed by hired gangs, angry mobs, or even their own family members, while hundreds others are living in constant fear of attack. With the loss of these elders, the film also documents the disappearance of valuable indigenous knowledge and history. This is a Shakespearian tragedy like no other. Family against family and progeny against elder veiled in greed and steeped in blood. Will Kaladze earn his ground, reunite his fractured family and save his grandmother’s fate?