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Update on our films featuring Transformative Education

We have had wonderful screenings of Seats at the Table these past two months, from Austin, Texas at the SXSW-EDU conference for educators from around the world, to the first Hebden Bridge Film Festival in the UK (our international premiere) to the Richmond International Film Festival here in Virginia, and then to Paris, France as part of the United Nations Association Traveling Film Festival.  These events have included some great post-screening discussions, with Andrew Kaufman, the creator and teacher of the Books Behind Bars class in-person at SXSW, with filmmaker Chris Farina Skyping in with the audience after the Hebden Bridge FF screening, and then with Andrew and Chris along with U.Va. student Kelsey Bowman (who is in the film) at the Richmond FF event.

Seats at the Table Screening Discussion at the Virginia Film Festival

Kelsey is a stellar example of how this class changes lives. I’d like to share with you a bit of what she says about this class experience. 

“In terms of how the class has affected my choice of study and career hopes, I think it really instilled in me a passion for social justice. Working with the residents showed me how so often it isn't a failure of the individual person, but a failure of the systems around them that led to them being incarcerated. Therefore, I chose to pursue an MSW degree as it uniquely prepares me to work with people who are incarcerated and advocate for social justice by training me to think systemically and to work within these systems while also working to change them. My experience working with the residents showed me how resilient they are and how much they have to offer the world, which is often overlooked by society. As a society, we label people who are incarcerated as "criminals" and relegate them to the margins of society where they are dehumanized and not given the opportunity to develop an identity that is separate from their crime. Getting to know the residents for the people they are, and not the crimes they committed, showed me how important it is to treat people who are incarcerated with the human dignity they deserve and allow them the opportunity to define their own identity. This drove me to want to be able to do this as a career, and help people who are incarcerated realize what they're capable of and re-author their life stories into a more preferred identity other than criminal. And ultimately, I would love to take on a leadership position within the criminal justice system, where I could work to institute changes that would make it more just.”

And the effect that this class has had on Kelsey, along with on so many other students both from U.Va. and the correctional center, is why we need to continue to work to share this film to inspire replication in other communities. That is the mission of this film. 

The work of sharing John Hunter’s World Peace Game, the subject of our past film World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements, continues to resonate widely, and provides an inspiring  model for the replication mission of Seats at the Table.  Through John’s Master Classes, he has now taught teachers from around the world how to conduct the World Peace Game in their own classrooms.  And at each of these Master Classes, the film has been shown to all of the teacher/attendees along with their wider community.  The Game itself has now been taught in schools in over 35 countries, with the ultimate mission of teaching children the “work of peace”. And we are so happy to share some recent outstanding news:  The U.S. State Department is providing funding and logistical support for John and his World Peace Game Foundation to visit Australia this coming September to conduct a series of Master Classes there. 

To find out more information about the World Peace Game Foundation, please visit http://worldpeacegame.org/.

World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements came out in 2010, after four years of work to raise the funds to finish the film, and it took even a few more years before the project was finally out of debt. And yet looking back at those efforts and the results, we’re so grateful for the generous support provided by individuals that enabled us to succeed with our mission. This gives us hope as we work to create true impact with our new film Seats at the Table.  We are presently in that same stage with Seats at the Table as we were in those early years with World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements. The filming took place in 2016, and while it is now in a completed form that we can screen for public audiences, the project is still heavily in debt.  We are very much in need of funds to move forward in sharing the film and inspiring other educators and students so that more of our youth can benefit from this transformative educational experience.  

For more information on Seats at the Table, please visit:  https://rosaliafilms.com/

We do ask that you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us sustain this work.  

And please help us by sharing this newsletter with friends and colleagues.
 

Sincerely,

Chris Farina   
Rosalia Films

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