Monday, November 26, 2012

Films and Festivals


I have ended up watching a lot of documentaries over these past couple of weeks. Through my program at the University of York, I am working with a project called Why Poverty?, a series of documentaries all related to different issues of poverty including maternal mortality rates, education, and land ownership.

These films are really tremendous, and I do encourage you to check them out. They are being broadcasted all over the world. Visit to find out when they are airing in your coutry. This month, they will transmit over 70 national broadcasts and reach over 500 million people. I'm not sure about you, but that number is hard to imagine. 

Why Poverty? isn't advocating for a specific single agenda, but they are hoping to encourage a global discussion of poverty and the issues surrounding it. It's thrilling really, to be in a day and age when people all over the world can hear the same stories, see the same images, and hopefully have similarly engaging conversations about what actions to take. 

Please check out this trailer. While all of these are fascinating documentaries, there are always topics that can really touch you. Welcome to the World or 4 Born is about women's access to health care before and after childbirth. We live in an age where these documentaries can reach 500 million people, so obviously we have plenty of capabilities. We have lots of technology and lots of money. In this same world, however, 42 babies out of every 1,000 babies will die before their first birthday, and 1 in 8 women will die giving birth in Sierra Leone. According to this documentary, the US has the worst maternal mortality rate in the Western world. 

These numbers are hard to imagine and something we must improve. It is inspiring, however, that this message can reach the masses over the course of this month. It is now our job to decide what we can do with that knowledge. 


I walked down to the ASFF festival two Sundays ago to watch a day of short films. The audience gathered in these tiny little rooms, in old historic buildings to watch sets of short films organized by genre. 

The venues were scattered about town. The music videos were in the back of a clothing store, the comedies in the top of a restaurant, and the dramas in a historic sight in the city center. There is something special in walking through these unconventional settings with strangers actively seeking original, thoughtful film.

The films were very different. Some of them really stood out to me and others did not. But what impacted me the most was being in a small room with 19 other people watching art that wasn’t widely publicized or well known. We came in faith and with the mutual understanding that these films (whatever they were) were something of value. That in itself is something worth getting up early on a weekend. 


Over this month I do encourage you to seek out the Why Poverty? documentaries. Engage in conversations. Find a way to take action. In the US, they will be available at:

And then look up an intimate arts festival that will allow you to watch performances in the presence of other human beings. It's funny, I know, but there may be nothing better. Wishbone will be participating in the 2013 Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival on January 13th. Go. Laugh. Enjoy art in the company of others. 

P.S. Some standouts from the ASFF included The Sugar Bowl and Oil and Water. Check and see if you can see them in your home town!

The Sugar Bowl - Teaser Trailer
The Sugar Bowl - Teaser Trailer
About this video
"A chorus of eccentric and endearing characters takes us through the rise and fall of an island in the Philippines and its sugarcane industry. Stunning images paint a portrait of a charming place struggling with its past and trying to move into the future. The Sugar Bowl is a short documentary film. For more information please visit"

Oil & Water
About this video
"We had filmed some great stuff with Bob, a truck driver hauling water in the oil fields for a feature doco called "Columbus, Oil Rigs and American Dreams" but unfortunately he made the cutting room floor and it was a shame to see his part go to waste. This film is a fascinating insight into working far from home in the oil fields up in the forgotten prairies of North Dakota. Music by the ever-so-talented "Columbus. Oil Rigs and American Dreams" will be broadcast on Channel 4 and Film 4 sometime this summer. It will also TX in Denmark and Norway."

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