Join ITVS and the Museum of Tolerance for a Screening of The Calling

ITVS and the New York Museum of Tolerance present a special free screening of  The Calling on Tuesday, March 12th. 

What drives the new younger generation of professional clergy members to take on such an intense level of commitment and leadership? In 2010, director Danny Alpert took on this question in his four hour PBS documentary series The Calling, which follows seven young people of different faiths (Muslim, Christian and Jewish) through their journey of schooling and training.

One March 12th, ITVS is hosting a special free screening of a segment of The Calling together with the New York Museum of Tolerance through our Diverse Muslim Voices project. Supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts, Diverse Muslim Voices helps build awareness and understanding in the US of the diverse range of Muslim cultures.

Two of the film’s subject, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz and Chaplin Tahera Ahmed, will be in attendance at the screening. In the documentary we are introduced to them as young people at the crossroads of their lives, struggling with dating, partners, family, and other challenges of “coming of age.” They are seeking to reconcile the modern world and their faith through community activism; balancing their egos and their desire to serve and blazing new paths to leadership while conserving age-old traditions. The Q&A after the screening will offer an opportunity to hear how these two charismatic leaders have grown over the past few years with more experience and leading congregations of their own.

There is a reception at 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm. The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. For more information and to RSVP, please click here.

ITVS and Muftah.Org Present a Social Screening on Female Community Organizers in Egypt

On February 6th, ITVS’s Diverse Muslim Voices is hosting an online film screening of Shayfeen.com: We’re Watching You. The screening is being presented in partnership with Muftah.org, an online magazine committed to providing a forum for discussion on arts, culture, and politics in the Middle East and North African regions. 

Ghada Shahbandar and another monitor from Shayfeen.com record the activities of Cairo’s polling.

The documentary provides an intimate look at the 2005 multi-party elections in Egypt through the eyes of three women working to assure the election’s legitimacy. The women provide unprecedented access to activists operating in and around the highest levels of both government and opposition groups. Providing excellent context for the organizing that was happening in Egypt before most of us tuned in years later during the Arab Spring, Shayfeen.com also shows how these women used the technology available to build their movement for justice – an early harbinger to how social media was used years later.

On the day of the screening, click the link from your computer and join the virtual screening room. Participants will be able to watch the film while interacting with other viewers. You can join anonymously if you want so log ins or passwords are not needed. Our free OVEE platform is a new innovative way to watch films in a way that promotes interaction with audience members and panelists through a simultaneous chat and other interactive features. For more information about OVEE, please click here. Continue reading

Don’t Miss the Upcoming Diverse Muslim Voices Social Screenings

On January 30th and February 6th, Diverse Muslim Voices is hosting two online film screenings of Solar Mamas and Shayfeen.com: We’re Watching You. Both documentaries examine the role women play in creating change in their communities.

The film titles and links to the screenings are listed below. On the day of the screening, click the link from your computer and join the virtual room! You’ll be able to watch the film while interacting with other viewers. You can join anonymously if you want so logins or passwords are not needed.

Our free OVEE platform is a new innovative way to watch films in a way that promotes interaction with audiences through simultaneous chat and other interactive features. For more information about OVEE click here. Continue reading

On the Road with Community Classroom

November was a busy month for Community Classroom, the ITVS program dedicated to creating educational film resources for use in high schools, colleges, and community settings. We took Community Classroom on the road to three annual educator conferences, including the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS), National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE), and National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), and reached thousands of America’s finest educators.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn delivers a keynote address about her book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

At the NCSS conference in Seattle, Sheryl WuDunn, author of the book that inspired the documentary film series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, gave a keynote speech to a crowd of more 700 social studies teachers. WuDunn, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, spoke of the work she and her husband, Nicholas Kristof (also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist), have been engaged in to shed light on the oppression women and girls face worldwide–from Tiananmen Square twenty years ago to the innovative, media savvy Half the Sky Movement of today.

After watching clips from the documentary, the audience had a chance to engage a panel of educators, youth advocates, and teen activists in a discussion about how to teach issues related to gender oppression in their social studies classes. The event came just days after NCSS officially endorsed the curriculum that ITVS’s Community Classroom program created for the documentary. The endorsement is a significant milestone for ITVS, now part of an exclusive group to receive the stamp of approval from America’s largest association devoted solely to social studies education. Continue reading

Tales of the Waria Featured on Telegraph21

Recently, our friends at Telegraph21 highlighted Tales of the Waria in their t21 Weekly Feature, including video clips, an exclusive filmmaker interview, and screening information. Telegraph21’s Steffie Kinglake sat down with filmmaker Kathy Huang to discuss the documentary, which premiered last night on Global Voices. The filmmaker will participate in an online social screening on Monday, June 4 at 8pm ET / 5pm PT right here.

t21: What inspired you to make Tales of the Waria?

Kathy: I first learned about warias in 2005, when I saw a newspaper photograph of a gorgeous waria who had won a beauty contest in Jakarta. I knew about the “ladyboys” of Thailand, but I had no idea that transgender people could live so openly in Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Like a lot of Americans I had these notions of Islam as being oppressive and particularly unforgiving toward sexual minorities. How could a community of warias possibly exist? Three years later, unable to shake my curiosity, I decided to take some Bahasa Indonesia classes and travel to Indonesia to experience the lives of warias firsthand.

t21: What do you want viewers to take away from the film?

Kathy: Many viewers come in assuming that warias must face constant persecution within their communities. I hope that what they see in the film challenges their preconceptions. There is room in Islam, as there is in any religion, for differences in appearances, lifestyles, and sexual preferences. Continue reading

Tales of the Waria: Inside Indonesia’s Third-Gender Community

by Kathy Huang
Originally published on HuffingtonPost.com

The ITVS-funded documentary by Kathy Huang premieres Sunday, June 3 on Global Voices on the WORLD Channel. An online social screening and chat will be held on Monday, June 4 at 8pm ET/5pm PT with the filmmaker to discuss issues raised in the film. That event will take place here.

This past March the Associated Press broke an unexpected story concerning Barack Obama’s childhood in Indonesia. Apparently, as a young boy growing up in Jakarta, Obama’s care had been entrusted to a transgender woman named Evie. American readers were shocked. What were the chances of the president having a transgender nanny — and in Indonesia, of all places? Having worked closely with the transgender community in Indonesia for the past several years, I can say: actually, not that bad.

In Indonesia biological men who believe that they are born with the souls of women are known as “warias.” The term is a melding of two Indonesian words: “wanita” (“woman”) and “pria” (“man”). As a group, warias are diverse, encompassing what we in America might call cross-dressers, transsexuals, drag queens, and effeminate gay men. What unites them is an irrepressible feminine spirit.

I first learned about warias in 2005, when I saw a newspaper photograph of a gorgeous waria who had won a beauty contest in Jakarta. I knew about the “ladyboys” of Thailand, but I had no idea that transgender people could live so openly in Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest Muslim population. Like many Americans I had this notion of Islam as being oppressive and particularly unforgiving toward sexual minorities. How could a community of warias possibly exist? Continue reading