Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Children of Abraham


Children of Abraham is a documentary film-in-progress based on “The Ten Theses”, the central postscript for the best-selling book “Why do you kill?” written by Dr. Jürgen Todenhöfer, also reprinted in March 2008 as a paid editorial in the New York Times, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and in Al Quds al Arabi.

The Theses outline one man’s hopes and plans for a Mideast peace, a work that reflects his fifty years of Middle East travel, his tenure as a member of the German parliament and defense specialist, and his humanitarian work on behalf of children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and the Congo. The core perception of Dr. Todenhöfer is that Western civilization has misunderstood, exploited, and betrayed the Islamic world for over a thousand years. That misguided history still resonates in today’s geopolitical crisis, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iran, Syria and Lebanon to the churches, mosques, and synagogues of New York and Iowa. It is not strictly a religious emergency; Dr. Todenhöfer believes that inter-faith dialogue and wise and fair diplomacy are the only stopgaps for the folly now known as “preventive” war.

Children of Abraham will be made with and for young people of every culture, race, and class –who will have to rectify the mistakes of the past and the present in order to reshape the future, as they must.

The Concept

In the hands of dedicated young artists, scholars, and journalists, the visceral, transformative power of film can help to make change. Film is a window to the soul, a catalyst that brings the light and the darkness together to create a new sense of wholeness, imaginations of common growth. When it combines with the power of true dialogue, propaganda loses its power. Bigotry becomes simplistic. Belief regains its compassion.

Children of Abraham will take shape, first, as a feature-length film made for worldwide theatrical release, and second, as an ongoing website where millions of other young people can share in the project’s message and add their own voices to it.

An international team of college and graduate students will be our central subjects, the nexus through which the universal message of the Ten Theses will be explored and interpreted by way of an unprecedented Internet dialogue, caught on film. One team of young people will set up their own electronic “axis mundi” in New York City. Others, in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine, will act as “stringers,” capturing material relevant to the Theses and sending them –via Skype conversations— as elastic elements of a multi-media conversation. The filmmakers of Axis Mundi Media will capture this multi-media collaboration as it’s unfolding.

Children of Abraham is a generational statement about how the lessons of the past and the present must be reinterpreted and utilized by the people who will create a new future. So in this sense, the New York nexus and its far-off stringers will be both subjects of the film and its co-creators.

When the film has been wrapped and released, the Children of Abraham website will be maintained by that extended film family, with the guidance and input of Dr. Todenhöfer and Axis Mundi.

Cinematic Transposition

Stylistically, the film is expected to break new ground. As an international collaboration among celebrated film veterans and young newcomers, it will be a hybrid running the gamut from time-tested cinema verite to the hands-on expressionism of "the digital generation." Thus, our story will be told by every available means, from Skype calls between embattled cultures caught on the fly, to street interviews; from Socratic rap sessions about this brave new world, to archival and Internet probes of that world's ever-expanding image bank.

Its tone will be searching, restless; a globetrotting quest for truth through the haze of international propaganda, "managed" news, and ideological and religious pomp.

In this sense, we are aspiring to make a film that is "conversational" to the greatest possible degree; an unprecedented 21st century dialogue between young and old, male and female, believer and unbeliever, Easterner and Westerner.

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