Tag Archives: little town of bethlehem

On Tour: Bethlehem, PA

10 Nov

October 20, 2015 | Small, Small Thing | Bethlehem, PA

Lehigh University was one of the highlights of my tour, I can’t say enough good things about my experience! It was a beautiful autumn day, the leaves were turning and it was unseasonably warm. First on the agenda was a lunch with a few faculty members. We discussed the philosophy and challenges behind documentary filmmaking. Next I participated in a class about entrepreneurial communication. I tried to impart my “wisdom” on a very large class. The overriding theme seemed to be “no one will care as much about your work as you do.” And I believe that wholeheartedly. You are your own best champion.

10.20.15 photo (2)

Next I went to a creative writing class. It was much smaller and casual. We chatted about storytelling  techniques, and finding ones own voice.

I had a small break until the screening, so my host Deborah showed me around Bethlehem. I’m from Pennsylvania, and love the old steel towns. Bethlehem is much cuter than I imagined. The reuse of the steel furnaces into art spaces is fantastic. I had dinner at the haunted Bethlehem Hotel, and wandered around town for a bit.

10.20.15 photo

As evening set in, the screening began. We had a nice turn out, both faculty and students, followed by a lively Q&A. I made some potentially valuable contacts for my next film as well.

Thank you to Deborah and everyone I met at Lehigh! You all were such amazing hosts, I look forward to returning in the future!

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Jessica Vale.


On Tour: Jim Hanon wraps up his tour in Rehoboth Beach, DE

17 Oct

The sun was setting on Rehoboth Beach when I drove up for my final night of the On Screen/In Person tour.

The spire of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church threw a long shadow over the many graves nestled on the small well-kept grounds.

Perhaps growing up in a small town made me nostalgic, but the village of Loews emitted a sense of place that reminded me of simpler days. The fact that we were showing the film in a church that has served the community since 1681 certainly added to the mood.

An Episcopal preacher, Phillip Brooks, visited Bethlehem in 1835 and wrote the hymn “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem”. A sense of the peace embodied in the song rested on me as I sat in the quiet courtyard outside the parish hall. People walking their dogs strode past the old brick walls. A small fountain amidst the ancient headstones gave a pleasant sound, and the inviting aroma of a wood fireplace promised warm against the growing night.

The audience was much larger than expected and we kept adding chairs in the back until there were no more. Representatives from many faiths had come as well as many people active in various peace movements.

It reminded me of another evening in the Church of the Nativity while we were making the film. The setting was different but the hope and longing of the people was the same. Peace is illusive, but not so far away as we think. For in Bethlehem, where it is said that God became man, I  saw Israelis and Palestinians regarding each other as human. And in Rehoboth Beach, at the last night of the On Screen/In Person Tour, I saw a diverse community share their experience.

Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker. Thanks for sharing all of your tour experiences, Jim!

Photo from http://stpeters.episcopaldelaware.org/


On Tour: Little Town of Bethlehem in Annapolis, MD

14 Oct

Traveling from Fredrick to Annapolis I needed to take a detour around DC. At first I tried to drive through the city but traffic was gridlocked. As I made my way around the traffic I remembered that the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial is being dedicated in Washington D.C. this Sunday, October 16th. I smiled because for the longest time it seemed Dr. King was gridlocked outside of Washington. He certainly knew something about having to take detours. Now, he is finally honored as he should always have been.

Thomas Fridich, the director of the Maryland Hall for creative arts in Annapolis, gave me a tour before the film was shown. I’ve been doing art since my earliest memories so I enjoyed that the Hall was a school. I was also impressed with the many gifted artists in residence. Tom was a great host and once again we had a great audience.

Since the Naval Academy is close, Tom was able to invite a professor with a Phd in middle eastern studies, who is also a Navy Captain, and another professor of Arabic studies who is also an Israeli. This made for a very interesting discussion at the end of the film. In their own ways they both expressed that it was nice to talk about nonviolence and all, but in the end nothing will change until there is sufficient political will among the leaders, which didn’t look like it was coming anytime soon.

For my part I believe they are underestimating the nonviolence movement, and I think the message in Little Town of Bethlehem is more encouraging than that  No matter the color of your skin you have to be grateful that Dr. King never left equality in the hands of the politicians of his day. He took his message to the people and inspired change through a civil movement. The nonviolence movement put pressure on the political process to listen to the admonitions of humanity. Social movements start from the ground up because nothing is being done from the top down. Sometimes the thousands of people on the nonviolence journey toward equality and peace find themselves having to detour around the gridlock in DC to get where they need to go. It may take some time, as it did for Dr. King, but the world ends up better for it.

I may be just a filmmaker on the On Screen/In Person tour. But these thoughts make the drive a lot easier, and the journey more fulfilling.

Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker
Top image via AP Photo, 2nd image via newsone.com

On Tour: Jim Hanon visits Allentown, PA

13 Oct
Bob Hope had performed at the symphony hall in Allentown, Pennsylvania back in the days of vaudeville. What a great venue for the On Screen/In Person tour. It might have been nice to play off the history of the place and tell some jokes before the audience discussion, except the nature of the film doesn’t lend itself to that.
We had an older audience, and I enjoyed a different kind of discussion because many of them remember the civil rights movement in the US. Naturally, there was some discussion about whether it is appropriate to compare the nonviolence movement in the US to the middle east and most specifically the Palestinians. I find it very easy to understand why all the protagonists in the film mention their inspiration in Dr. King, for the center of what they are struggling for is equality.  They see nonviolence as the path toward equality and equality as the path toward peace. At the same time I also understand why some feel any comparison is misleading.
How you feel about the Palestinian people is at the heart of whether you agree if the comparison is appropriate. If you feel they are terrorists at war with Israel, then the comparison is outrageous. If you feel they are civilians struggling to survive and make their respective societies better for both peoples then the comparison is nothing short of inspirational.  The film, Little Town of Bethlehem, ia about the joint Israeli and Palestinian nonviolence movement. They are paying the price within their respective societies to bridge the gap between the two peoples. They believe, as Dr. King did, “Their destiny is tied to our destiny.”
In the early days of vaudeville the stage was segregated. It was wonderful to be back on an old vaudeville stage with this story. And it was great to be among the thoughtful people of Allentown.

Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker

On Tour: Jim Hanon at the Weinberg Center in Frederick, MD

13 Oct

The Weinberg Center in Frederick, Maryland was built in the early 1900’s and has been restored. It is a great performance hall and I was impressed with the number of volunteers and their friendliness. John Healey, the center’s director, gave a gracious introduction to the film and explained the On Screen/In Person program.

Normally a few people leave after the film before the discussion starts, but not this time. The questions were about the young people in the region and what is being done so that they are not indoctrinated into the conflict. The audience understood that the older generations tended to hold on to the conflict because of their trauma, but the younger generations tended to be more open to knowing the other side, and were inclined to believe that it could be different.

How much of our fear and trauma do we pass on to our children? How much is appropriate? How much enslaves them to the same cycle? In terms of the Jewish trauma of being marked for extinction in World War II, they never want the younger generations to forget what happened so that it can never repeated.

Remembering the holocaust essential, and I devoted a good portion of the film to it. But there are two ways to remember it. One that creates fear and self survival, and one that creates compassion for others whose survival is also threatened. How much of each way do we pass on to our children? This isn’t a question for just Israelis and Palestinians. It is a question for us all. The audience in Frederick, Maryland knew that.

Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker

On Tour: Jim Hanon at Monmouth University

11 Oct

Monmouth University in Long Branch, NJ has done a lot of work with inerfaith dialogue in general, and Jewish, Muslim and Christian relations in particular. Before the screening I had the privilege of meeting with an interfaith dialogue group headed by Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D who is the Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives.

Many professors brought their classes to the screening so we had the largest audience yet. The discussion after the screening reminded me of the joint Israeli and Palestinian discussions we had with groups when we were making the film. They seemed sensitive to the trauma and areas of disagreements and were now able to listen to each others stories and take them in. They might still disagree, but they helped each other understand why they disagreed.

If I had to point to one element that makes these kinds of discussions possible it would be the lack of fear. Just as the creation of fear adds to any conflict, the reduction of fear diffuses any conflict.

In 2007, when we started the journey of making the film, I’m not sure how many community efforts like the one in Monmouth existed. It was great to see that our telling the story in Little Town of Bethlehem was simple being part of a larger picture. One that was further revealed last night during the On Screen/In Person Tour.

Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP Touring Filmmaker

On Tour: Jim Hanon at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

9 Oct

Rutgers is huge. There are three campuses, and our film showed at the New Brunswick Campus. Because the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies hosted us we were able to talk about nonviolence in the larger context of the world. They told me several nonviolence stories from Latin America. One of the best things about being a filmmaker is meeting interesting and passionate people, and I always enjoy hearing incredible stories that the public just doesn’t have access to.

What information the public does and doesn’t receive kind of became a central thread in the discussion after the film. Once again, the audience confirmed that Little Town of Bethlehem shared things they simply hadn’t heard before. Powerful things. Whenever people discover there is more to the story it is a natural response for them to ask why they didn’t know.

There were African-American students who wanted to talk about the equality issue, and the Latino students wanted to talk about the similarities of the cycle of violence to gangs. And for the second screening in a row the audience wanted to talk about the Arab spring and the current Occupy Wall Street movement. Yet, all of the questions kept feeding back to what the media reports and why.

One of the things that I always share about Little Town of Bethlehem is that I may not have a lot of hope in politics, but I have great hope in a civil society. Finally I told them if the selective media coverage troubled them we can all do something. For my part, I was fortunate to make a film. For Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s part, they sponsored the On Screen/In Person program that allowed the film to be shared at Rutgers. Every one of us can do something, big or small. A common connection of the three protagonist in Little Town of Bethlehem is that they all believe Gandhi’s words, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP touring filmmaker

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