CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006
This 104 minute videocam documentary follows the five year journey from 1999 to 2004 of Canadian Velcrow Ripper. In an attempt to find some hope amid the "Ground Zeros" of the world, he revisits the sites of various disasters.
In Bhopal, India, he meets the victims of the Union Carbide Factory accident. Despite the callousness of the company which would not take responsibility for the effects of the gas leak, the survivors have found treatment at a people's clinic. Through ayurvedic medicine, yoga, meditation and massage, they have found healing and have "asserted the right of the expendable to live."
In Cambodia, he traces the genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s in the "killing fields" and interviews a man who witnessed the murder of his family and now works to decommission the 3 million mines still scattered throughout Cambodia .
He encounters a couple in Bosnia who lived through the Siege of Sarajevo and still reside in Sniper's Alley. They express their memories through art as a form of therapy.
In Kabul, where films and music are forbidden, he explores the ruins of abandoned movie houses and meets a man who has buried a lute but continues to play despite possible grave consequences.
In New York, he meets a woman who became a Zen nun after the collapse of the World Trade Center . In her meditative practice, she breathes in suffering and breathes out compassion and in this way connects with her own and others' vulnerability.
A group of Israel and Palestinian parents who have lost children in the conflict have joined together to form a Bereaved Parents Circle to share their grief despite their political and religious differences.
Images of Tibetan Buddhists exiled in India, Sufi whirling dervishes of Turkey, lanterns of memory at Hiroshima and monks in orange robes punctuate the poetic narrative and give glimpses of the disparate yet related sacred moments in the aftermath of tragedy and destruction.
Ripper's underlying theme is that suffering can lead to a transcendent spiritual breakthrough. In all of his vignettes, the survivors tell and retell the memories of suffering until they become a force of change. In the end, Ripper believes we all have the freedom to choose the way we respond to whatever comes our way.
This documentary, produced in association with the National Film Board, has won several awards, including the New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival, Top Ten Canadian Films of 2004 at Toronto International Film Festival, and Best Documentary at Whistler Film Festival.
Public Performance Rights are included for educational institutions and non-profit organizations that have obtained the video directly from National Film Board.
Jane Bridle is a librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.