Archive for November, 2006

Theatrical Release for “Beyond the Call”

Beyond the Call

Adrian Belic has done it! Landmark Theaters is premiering “Beyond the Call” in Chicago (starting November 24) and San Francisco (starting December 1) for a week. After five years of work, Adrian Belic finally has national theatrical distribution for “Beyond the Call.”


In an Indiana Jones meets Mother Teresa adventure, three middle-aged men – former soldiers and modern-day knights – travel the world delivering life-saving humanitarian aid directly into the hands of civilians and doctors; in some of the most dangerous yet beautiful places on Earth, the front lines of war.


“An extremely inspiring film that is also hilarious, exciting and heart-wrenching. Not only are the three men unbelievably good willed, they are enjoyable characters filled with lovable quirks and wonderful stories to tell.” – Christopher Campbell, Cinematical

If you are in Chicago or San Francisco, please go see this film. As you all know, the opening weekend success in both cities are very important because it will determine how widely Landmark will distribute the film around the US and how many other theaters will pick up the film. Adrian (writer, producer, cinematographer) and one of the stars, Ed Artis, will be in Chicago and San Francisco for the opening weekends doing Q&A after each screening.

I first heard about Knightsbridge, the organization started by Ed Artis, five years ago when Adrian was heading to Afghanistan to film Ed, Jim Laws, and Walt Ratterman on a mission to deliver humanitarian aid when all other aid organizations were leaving for security reasons. Stories of crossing borders illegally and stowing away in containers would filter through to us from time to time, but I lost track of the documentary until Adrian emerged from the editing room this year to start marketing the film.

The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

“This year there are a handful of films that I want to cite simply because they embody, in one way or another, something of the spirit that gave birth to the Tribeca Film Festival… [Films] about people who know that what they do as individuals can make a difference in the world: Beyond the Call.” – Peter Scarlet, Executive Director, Tribeca Film Festival

Numerous film festivals (including the San Francisco International Film Festival, where I first saw the film) and multiple awards later, the general public will get a chance to see “Beyond the Call” on the big screen.

Trailer and more info at:, and

Don’t miss it.

2006 Tech Laureate Venture Network Showcase

On November 15 I attended the 2006 Tech Laureate Venture Network (TLVN) Showcase at the Tech Museum in San Jose.  It is always a struggle for me to get to San Jose at 8:30am on a Wednesday morning, and this morning, I was an hour late after dropping Mark off at SFO.  I have been to four out of the five TLVN Showcases, and have become friends (with Brij Kothari, 2003 Tech Laureate in Education for Planet Read) and colleagues (with Ashok Gadgil, 2004 Tech Laureate in Health for WaterHealth International) with some of the past laureates.

This year, I met two people (Gavin White, CEO of Video Volunteers and Elizabeth Stefanski of globalgiving, the online giving portal that facilitates online donations for the laureates’ projects) with whom I have corresponded within the past year but never met, and representatives of an NGO (Centre for Development of Disadvantaged People) which is in the ProPoor database of South Asian NGOs, a portal that I manage and maintain for CharityFocus.

Centre for Development of Disadvantaged People is a two-time winner, having won in 2004 in the Economic Development category for a rat catching device for indigenous tribal rat catchers (I must admit I stayed away from that exhibit in 2004) and this year, again in the Economic Development category, for a cost-effective, environmentally friendly water purification system managed by women in self-help groups.

Five Tech Laureates are named in each of five categories:  Environment, Economic Development, Education, Health, and Equality, for a total of 25 Laureates.  One Laureate in each category is awarded a cash prize of $50,000. A complete list of the prize winners and Laureates is available on the Tech Museum Awards website.

I urge everyone to nominate candidates. This year’s Laureates range from Mohammed Bah Abba of Mobah Rural Horizons, a rural development and consulting organization in Kano State in Nigeria that sells a “desert refrigerator” – two clay pots lined with wet sand to MBA Polymers (award winner in the Environment category), a Richmond, California based company that now operates the world’s two most advanced, large-scale, commercial plastics recycling plants, one in China and one in Europe.

Sulanga enu Pinisa (The Foresaken Land)

Neither war nor peace, just the wind blowing
God is absent, but still the sun rises
Over a lonely home between two trees in a forsaken land
A hand emerges from the water, begging for help
A legendary woman searches for love
A soldier kills a stranger, and is burdened by guilt

This is the synopsis of “The Foresaken Land”, winner of the 2005 Camera d’Or, the Cannes Film Festival’s award for first time filmmakers. The film was directed by a young Sri Lankan, Vimukthi Jayasundara, who studied at the Film and Television Institute of India, and then at Le Fresnoy, in France. The film had its West Coast premier at the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival at noon on November 11, 2006.

A stark landscape devoid of life, isolated human beings who rarely speak; the only link to civilization a bus that appears and disappears over the horizon. Two guards exchanging their shared rifle wordlessly, sex without pleasure, seemingly random acts of violence and retribution. Desolation. Desperation. Despair.

“If The Forsaken Land has something to do with my country’s history, it is especially through its conveyance of the suspended state of being simultaneously without war and without peace – in between the two. I wanted to capture this strange atmosphere… For me, filmmaking is an ideal vehicle for expressing the mental stress people experience as a result of the emptiness and indecisiveness they feel in their lives. With the film, I wanted to examine emotional isolation in a world where war, peace and God have become abstract notions.”


Vimukthi Jayasundara, Director

India Bound

We finally bought our tickets for India yesterday – we leave SFO on 28 November and arrive in Chennai at 10:00pm on 30 November. We should get to Pondicherry in the wee hours of 1 December.

“What will you be doing?”

Good question. Every plan we have ever made for India has had to be abandoned, sometimes even before we get on the plane.

In January and February, 2005, Mark and I were planning on visiting small NGOs throughout India, to tell their stories. I even took a digital storytelling workshop at KQED in December 2004. Then, the tsunami hit, and the rest, as they say, is history. The week before we left, we were helping to network people and NGOs. The day we arrived, we attended a coordination meeting in Chennai, and from that day on, our (new) project was born – to create a tsunami portal to link demand with supply – funds, volunteers, in-kind donations. We spent most of our time in Chennai, Auroville, Pondicherry, Nagapattinam, and Bangalore, meeting with NGOs and local programmers.

In September of 2005, we planned to spend our 6 months in and around Pondicherry, settling into our newly chosen “second” home, working with people and NGOs in Auroville and Pondicherry. We spent a total of three weeks, combined, in Pondicherry in the 6 months we were in India. You can read about some of our projects in this blog’s archives from October 2005 to April 2006.

This go round? We plan on spending a few weeks in Pondicherry to re-establish our “home”. Then, we’re off to a wedding in Jaipur on 26 December, a wedding reception on 29 December and a short visit with our friend Rosalie Giffoniello of Empower the Children in Kolkata, and possibly a wedding in Delhi in early February. After the new year, we plan on spending some time in Pakistan for Phase II of our Friends Without Borders project.

Sounds manageable, right?

2006 SF International South Asian Film Festival

The 2006 San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival is this weekend – November 10-11-12 at Yerba Buena, the Castro, and the Roxie.

There are a couple of films that look wonderful (descriptions taken from the Festival website):

The Foresaken Land

Winner of Cannes’ prestigious Camera d’or prize, ‘The Forsaken Land’ is an exquisitely shot, visually stunning poetic drama that meditates upon the alienating effects of civil war in Sri Lanka.


Omkara is a beautifully cinematic, brilliantly executed and inspired adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello set against the milieu of political and gangster warfare in the interiors of india’s Uttar Pradesh. Art house meets Bollywood.

And of course:

Shah Rukh Khan
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (KANK/Never Say Goodbye)

Come celebrate BOLLYWOOD at the Castro!! Kank is the latest Bollywood feature from India. With its star-studded cast, (irresistible Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee), fantasy sets, endearing musical scores, KANK will move you to laugh, cry, sing and dance. Perfect for Bollywood devotees and novices alike.

Shah Rukh Khan mugging and crying – who could resist?  (Sharon – I’m sure you’ll be going to this one!)

“How to Tie a Tie”

Do you know how to tie a tie? I do. Or, I used to. Back when I was in my early 20s – let’s just say more than 20 years ago – I used to wear those skinny, “retro” ties (a la “Annie Hall”) that I found in my father’s closet before I moved out of my parent’s home and into my own apartment in Brooklyn Heights. (That’s in New York, my West Coast friends.) I was very cool then. Trust me.

Hmmm… I wonder if I can still do it. And what was the knot I tied? I really have no idea. Half Windsor, maybe?

Gee… how can I find out? Why, by viewing my friend Geoff Dorn’s new streaming video on his beta site,, of course:

Learn how to tie a tie with easy to follow video instruction from

Truth be told, memories of my tie tying days came bubbling up to the surface because Geoff, an artist and founder of Pacific Bridge Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Gallery in Oakland, has recently relocated to Portland, OR and is embarking on a new venture – a destination site for how-to vidoes. How to Tie a Tie is his first video.

In order to boost his Google ranks, Geoff has given me an offer I can’t refuse:

For every ten friends who create a link to my site I’ll donate an hour volunteering at the Portland Chinese Classical Garden, which I’ll take you to when you visit. By extension of your efforts you will be helping to maintain a beautiful spot of nature in the heart of the Portland.

Don’t tell Geoff, but I would have helped anyway. OK people – start linking.

So, getting back to tying ties. It turns out that many people don’t know how to tie a tie. According to Geoff: “Most people doing a “how-to” search are looking to tie a tie.”

Enough about ties, I could use a video on How to Wear a Sari. Is this one next, Geoff?

“Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts”

Every year, the Oakland Museum has an exhibit on “Dias de los Muertos” – Days of the Dead.  This year, the exhibit, called “Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts,” was curated by guest curator Carol Marie Garcia, a visual artist and a scholar of Christianity:

Imagine Death to be a watchful eye that sees both the living and the dead. Looking toward the dead, Death sees laughing bones happy to be liberated. Glancing toward the living, Death sees weeping hearts that are sad for the loss of loved ones.

The intention of this exhibition is to celebrate the liberation of the dead and to attend to the sorrow of the living. Artists and students were invited to both eulogize the dead and to share their mourning process. The result is an exhibition that offers, through humorous and solemn expression, reflection upon life and death. The laughing and the weeping of the Days of the Dead is found in the reoccurring images of skulls smiling brightly, hearts red with passion, and skeletons dancing happily.

A special feature to the exhibit is a double spiral labyrinth. A touchstone for the journey of life, the path is delineated with the shoes of both the living and the dead. The shoes bear witness to the wear of the walk of life. The labyrinth is an invitation for a meditative walk amidst the color, light, sound, and texture of a space steeped in tradition and created for honoring the dead and gathering ourselves in community. “Laughing Bones/Weeping Hearts” is a gathering place to laugh, weep, celebrate, remember and heal.

On the Day of the Dead (All Souls Day), November 2,  seven of us gathered at the museum for a private viewing of the exhibit in memory of Allyson Anthony, who passed away two weeks ago on October 19, 2006.  In San Francisco, the “pottery” group held their own private memorial for Allyson at a restaurant in the Richmond district.

I will miss the “formal” memorial that is being planned for Allyson on January 20, 2007, but if I were to build an ofrenda for Allyson, what would I include?

A large, colored candle, like the ones she would light all over the dining room for the many dinner parties we had at her apartment, in one of her ceramic candle holders.

Some incense that she kept on top of her toilet tank, next to a wooden Indonesian puppet.

A San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW) broom, in memory of her role as “Block Captain” when we lived in the Mission district and were members of a neighborhood association called Calle 22.

Ear plugs, because she had to have quiet.

Movie ticket stubs (for a Wednesday) because she went to the movies at least once a week, even though she invariable fell asleep during the film.

Her swimsuit and cap and the bell from her bicycle, for her early morning swims and rides.  (Her heart and lungs were strong until the very end.)

One or two toys that belonged to her female cats Sophie (who predeceased Allyson) and Hank,  who used to thunder across the hallway in the middle of the night, chasing the toys.

A scarf that she knit when she was no longer strong enough to go to The Clay Studio.

A bird’s nest filled with her ceramic, rakued eggs.

Music – the ofrenda would play a randomized selection of CDs from her collection.

And flowers, always.



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