About Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine

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This screening is part of the International Association for Media and History conference being held at Indiana University.

The film takes audiences to the Holy Land with Dr. Clay Carson, who runs the Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute, to document his play about King performed by the Palestinian National Theatre and an African-American gospel choir. The play was presented to audiences all over the West Bank. It was an intense cultural exchange between two peoples encompassing the joy of new friendships, creative collaborations and eye opening experiences. No one who participated remained unchanged.

The film chronicles the trip through the Holy Land that the Christian choir were so passionately excited to see, as they are introduced to the other side of the land where Jesus once walked: a man whose front yard has been bisected by the Security Wall and whose children have to play in the dust of its continued construction; the ease with which they as foreigners were able to pass through checkpoints while their Palestinian counterparts took hours to navigate the same distance; a home which had no water because a settlement had taken over their well, where Palestinian women teach them songs in Arabic and join them in singing American gospel songs. And yet, amidst the hardships of occupied life, the choir is greeted with food, humor, and generosity, a mixture that brought some of them to tears.

It also captures the growing non-violent movement of young people in Palestine, who are much like their peers in Egypt and Tunisia -- bright, well-educated, social media savvy and deeply committed. They are on the move, changing hearts and minds. The film brings a fresh perspective in understanding the realities of Palestinian life under occupation and introduces people to the young Palestinians who are changing the landscape non-violently. Director Connie E. Field is scheduled to be present.
(HD Presentation)

Connie Field (producer / director) is an Academy Award nominated director who has made a number of high profile documentaries that have been shown all over the world. Before getting involved in film she worked as an organizer in many social and human rights organizations where she established her commitment to progressive social change which she has carried into her film career. Many of her films focus on hidden histories, stories that had not been told before which should be an important part of our collective memories.

She recently finished Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine, about an African American gospel choir touring Palestine in a Palestinian play about Martin Luther King Jr. Prior to that she completed the seven-part series Have You Heard From Johannesburg, on the global movement that ended Apartheid in South Africa, which aired on PBS and the BBC in January 2012.

Some of her previous work includes Freedom on My Mind a history of the civil rights movement in Mississippi; the feminist classic The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter and ¡Salud! on Cuba's role in the struggle for global health equity. She has won numerous awards including Academy Award nominations, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, a primetime Emmy Award, British Academy Award Nominee, Best Series, and Best Feature Documentary from numerous festivals, as well as having her films listed as the Best Doc of the Year or One of the Ten Best Films of the Year by a number of film critics. She is also a recipient of the John Grierson Award as most outstanding social documentarian, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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