We are so excited that Film Forward has finally landed in Nashville! Peter Bratt, director of La Mission, and Isabelle Stead, producer of Son of Babylon, both arrived Friday evening and were given a quick night to rest up before we hit the road running.
Yesterday morning we began the day at the Edmondson Pike branch of the Nashville Public Library with a discussion on the Iraq’s Missing Campaign, a global initiative Isabelle began after seeing the massive number of loved ones in Iraq who are still searching for their husbands, sons, or other family members who were captured and imprisoned by Saddam Hussein’s government. Millions of Iraqis are caught in this quagmire, including the film’s lead actress whose husband has been missing for 20 years.
The campaign’s mission is to actively encourage governments and the world’s media to support the unearthing and identification of the victims of Saddam’s mass graves. Kirmanj Gundi, Ed.D, professor at Tennessee State University and leader in Nashville’s Kurdish community moderated the discussion. Between Isabelle’s experience on the ground with the film and Kirmanj’s deep understanding of the history of the region, we had a great discussion that was a powerful introduction to the film’s subject matter in advance of the Monday night screening.
In the afternoon we headed over to the Oasis Youth Opportunity Center—a remarkable facility that houses nine youth service organizations that came together to build this “one-stop shop” to support young people throughout the community. We had a screening and post-screening conversation of La Mission in the center’s community space. Our staff partner was Pam Sheffer who leads the LGBTQ+ initiatives for the center.
Having Pam and Peter in a space together was pretty amazing. Pam is one of those community heroes who decided to leave her corporate job two years ago because she saw a lack of substantive programs for LGBTQ+ youth in Nashville. She’s now a full-time volunteer (yes, you read that correctly, full time volunteer) creating programs to fill that void.
Having the opportunity to pair her passion with Peter’s remarkable film and his own passion for community work was an ideal partnership. The kids asked wonderful questions and Peter connected so directly and honestly with them. Pam said this about Film Forward in an email she sent shortly after the screening: “Your work is so important and our young people are better humans because of the risks that Peter took to bring his story to the big screen.”
Thank you, Peter, Isabelle, and Film Forward; it has been a wonderful start. Now on to screenings at the Belcourt Theatre and several more conversations between our community and these very special artists.