Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's been a little over a week since the end of the Full Frame Film Festival.  The days since the festival have been busy, but also relaxing.  I've been reading, thinking and regrouping after the festival ended.

I've spent a number of days sitting in the sun while reading.  My neighbor probably thinks I'm just getting a tan but, in fact, I'm reading about global politics, war, education, poverty and strategy as they relate to Abandoned Allies.  The content of the books are a stark contrast to the green of spring, blooming flowers, and bright sunshine.

One of the books was given to me by Annie Beth, who is helping us with music.  It's titled The Hole In Our Gospel, and is written by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S.  The book is, as the title implies, from a religious perspective, and is about the "true story of a corporate CEO who set aside worldly success for something far more significant."  The author talks about quitting his corporate job to work for a nonprofit, and how it opened his eyes to the state of things in our present world.  The World Vision website states:
World Vision helps transform the lives of the world's poorest children and families in nearly 100 countries, including the United States. Our non-profit work extends assistance to all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, gender, race, or ethnic background.
The book is rather interesting, considering I just quit my job last summer and went through some very similar thoughts about finances and success; but what I find most interesting is his taken on global poverty and health concerns.  Through the process of working on this film, I've been fascinated with the state of mind of American citizens.  Why do we think the way we think?  Why do we act the way we act?  From where do we get our news?  Just one source?  Several?  How do we make decisions, form political positions, or draw conclusions about historic events?

The book talks about the state of American thinking (and American churches), but not in an abrasive way.  He writes about compassion fatigue and American thoughts on wealth, poverty, charity, and more.  All of these things have become so fascinating to me in relation to Abandoned Allies, as I continue our research.

It's a fascinating book, and I'm so grateful to Annie Beth for delivering to my front door!  What a great gift!  I love to read, especially a book someone else thinks I will enjoy.

Speaking of which, Surry recommended I read Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson.  Surry's been recommending Mortenson's book Three Cups of Tea for a long time, and I'm grateful to finally read one of his books.

The book is about building schools in some of the most remote, challenging parts of the world.  Challenging in terms of landscape (getting supplies to build a school), but also politically (getting approval to build a school and teach girls in a community.  The book is about promoting peace, but also about keeping promises and the time it takes to build trusting relationships.  These are key to our story, too.

The two books that have been on my bedside table have so many similarities.  They both explore state of our world, and lessons in how each of us can do something to make it better.  They have given me information, specific facts, about things that left me curious throughout the course of working on Abandoned Allies, and they do it in a way that makes it easy to absorb.  The explore community, education, the making/keeping of promises, and the future.

With these two books and the film festival, I feel like this month has been one to provide a means of connecting all of my research and thoughts.  All of these individual puzzle pieces, so seemingly unrelated, are coming together to make this one big picture.  I feel much more confident about what information to leave out, keep in, and the order in which it should be shared.

We have much more work to do, though.  I have to finish Stones Into Schools but we have a lot of other things on our list: editing, motion graphics, music, additional B roll to capture, and more.  Having watched so many films at the festival, I deeply wish that we could do more research, interviews, and even travel to Vietnam; but perhaps those things will come with time.  Our goal now is to finish the film with what we have and carry on from there.

Photo credit: http://www.stonesintoschools.com/