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I'm writing a more personal note to you all today, so please pardon this extended piece and hope you will take a moment to read it.
For some time now I've been meaning to share some exciting updates about our film progress, including the good news that we submitted a newly-edited feature-length cut of our film (63 mins) to the Berlin International Film Festival on Oct 31st.
We hope to hear back from Berlin by mid-December along with other such festivals we will be submitting including TriBeCa next month. We continue our post-production work on the film, editing a more extended 70 mins fine-cut and creating original music, for release by early next year.
However, recent events in Gaza have brought a more somber urgency to talk about the dire situation there. As you are probably staying abreast of developments in the news, the flare-up in violence (the worst it has been in 4 years) has already caused dozens of fatalities, especially women, children and the elderly (in both Gaza and Israel) and I fear things will only get worse in coming days with an imminent ground invasion planned unless a cease-fire is wisely negotiated.
It has been particularly heart-wrenching for me to watch things unfold as the very places in the northern frontier and Jabalia refugee camp, where we shot much of our footage with children making and flying kites in the much calmer and playful days during my visits in the past 3 years, are the ones now being bombed heavily and most vulnurable to continued loss of life.
I have been on the phone regularly with Anne Paq, our co-producer and photographer who has been in Gaza this past week to shoot additional footage for our film. Anne and I have worked together for over 5 years doing youth media trainings in Palestine. She recently produced an amazing short film, "Not a dreamland" about the vibrant artists and alternative subcultures in Gaza, which was just released online.
Anne has been quite shaken by current events the past few days but is holding up ok at the moment. For an experienced human rights photographer watching the effects of the violence take a toll on the youngest children in Gaza has just been devastating.
Anne continues reporting and photographing the siege, despite intermittent internet access (which may soon be shut entirely). Please take a look and stay abreast of her updates here: http://chroniquespalestine.blogspot.com/
I'm sharing a moving excerpt from Anne's blog yesterday and the corresponding photo attached (which has widely appeared in news media):
"As I write now, I am back in my home. While I was editing pictures I could hear the scary sound of the bombs. The street was empty of cars soon and there is no light almost. I moved far from the window which can easily get smashed (by) some of explosions (that) happened nearby. In Al Shifa hospital there was total chaos with so many injured persons (who) kept coming in.
When I arrived to the section where they burned the treated persons, some women collapsed in grievance, they just found out that Omar Jihad Masharawi, a 1 year old baby died of his wounds just (now). One of the women was his mother.
I went up with other photographers, I cannot describe with words what I saw, and neither can I post the grim pictures of a burned baby. This is just horrific. Later the father Omar carried (the baby) to the morgue, crying his eyes out. I went home. I feel nervous, with the news coming about more attacks, more injured. There is Nowhere to escape in Gaza."
You can follow Anne on twitter (@annepaq) - https://twitter.com/annepaq
Anne's photo collective, Active Stills has posted a selection of their images from Gaza and Israel here: http://972mag.com/a-week-in-photos-assault-on-gaza-intensifies/59955/
I will be talking about the current situation in Gaza and showing Anne's photography as well as the latest version of our film at several educational and advocacy screenings over the coming 2-3 weeks, to both raise awareness and fundraise for our continued efforts (as I've done at NYU recently).
Our next screening is being held at the University of Pennsylvania in partnership with Playgrounds for Palestine, in Philadelphia on Sunday, November 18th from 12-3pm. The event will feature a panel discussion on creative play and resilience, and our animator Daniel will also join me in discussing the making of hand-made animations for the film.
For more details on the event and to RSVP go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/430210740375326/
Please help us spread the word and feel free to join us or invite friends in the area. We also plan to do another private screening in Washington D.C. near Dupont Circle on Sunday, December 2nd 3pm - let us know if you would like to attend.
If you wish to support our efforts please contribute or tell friends about the project. Tax-deductible donations can be made online through our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts organization:
I've previously written about our need for film finishing funds to complete the project by the end of December (since we have exhausted all our Kickstarter funds raised), but now it takes on an even more pressing concern as we continue to support Anne's extended work in Gaza despite the turmoil.
While I'm confident that our film will get completed this year it has gained even more urgency to be seen by audiences in the US and abroad to showcase the humanity and creative spirit of young Palestinians in Gaza. I hope you can stay abreast of the news, join protests or spread the word among friends and family about the evolving situation in Gaza.
Thanks for all your continued support of this project and our team's efforts both here and in Gaza, where Anne Paq, Abeer and many of our youth are currently struggling through the turmoil they are experiencing on the ground.
I hope things will calm down soon and they will all stay safe. I'm looking forward to an opportunity to visiting them in Gaza in coming months.
Co-Director of Flying Paper
We were very pleased to tell you that the post-production work for our upcoming documentary film Flying Paper is progressing very well.
As you know, the film captures the uplifting story of Palestinian children in Gaza on a quest to shatter the Guinness World Record for the most kites ever flown. It showcases the creative resilience of children in Gaza making and flying kites despite the odds.
This film has been nearly three years in the making through our collaborative efforts with the young filmmakers we trained in Gaza as part of our Voices Beyond Walls initiative, and we hope to have it completed by the end of this year with your support.
Our talented team is currently working intensely in New York, London, Boston and Philadelphia, on final editing and post-production work including creating a new soundtrack, original music, animations and narrative sequences.
Some examples of scenes below with the hand-made animations produced by Daniel Nienhuis with our kite character encountering dragons and drones as imagined by children in Gaza.
We hope to complete a new 60-min feature-length version for submission to the Berlin International Film Festival in time for their deadline of Oct 31st, 2012.
Thereafter, our goal is to continue working on refining the film and music, while developing a strong publicity/marketing campaign, and exploring various international distribution channels for the film through early next year.
We also continue to screen rough-cuts of the film with audiences worldwide to raise awareness of the dire situation in Gaza and the hope and resilience of the children despite their circumstances. In recent months we have done screenings and discussions in New York, Washington D.C., Buenos Aires, Guatemala, and Jerusalem at the Institut Francais on Oct 18th, 2012.
We believe the touching narratives and characters in our film humanizes Palestinian children in Gaza in far more compelling ways than the news and mainstream media is able to do, which only enhances the advocacy efforts of Palestinians and the solidarity groups working on their behalf.
With a professional team of talented filmmakers, animators, editors, sound engineers, and music composers working closely with us, we are confident that this will turn out to be an award-winning film on the international stage. To get there we need your continued support, both in raising awareness for this film and also in contributing to its full completion.
While we have raised nearly $65,000 for the film’s production thus far through our successful Kickstarter campaign, grants including National Geographic, and private donors, we are still seeking to raise an additional $25,000 – $45,000 for film finishing funds and the crucial publicity and outreach work in coming months.
A breakdown of our expected expenses are as follows:
1. Final Editing work with a seasoned editor and two assisting editors: $15,000
2. Music composition/licensing, audio engineering and sound-mixing: $10,000
3. Animation work for handmade animation sequences in the film: $5,000
4. Post-production, including color correction and digital transfers: $5,000
5. Publicity, outreach and advocacy work in the US and abroad: $5,000
6. Film website, print/electronic marketing, and festival submissions: $5000
We expect to have most of our work on this film completed by the end of the year (December 31st) as we continue submitting and screening it at various international film festivals.
We are asking for your help to get the word out about this amazing film to interested donors, advocacy organizations and film/arts foundations. No contribution is too small, and we are delighted to have any in-kind and volunteer support as well.
To learn more about how you may continue to contribute or get involved please visit our website: http://flyingpaper.org/support/
Contributions are tax-deductible and can be made online through our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=6482
This is the most crucial phase of the film’s completion and we value your support to help us bring Flying Paper as a compelling cinematic work to audiences everywhere.
Please feel free to circulate our letter (PDF version) to interested friends and organizations.
Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill, Co-Directors
Julia Hurley, Outreach Coordinator
We wanted to write a short update to all since our successful Kickstarter campaign in June. Thanks to you we have been moving ahead as planned with getting our film project to the next stage. Some quick updates:
1. We have received wonderful new footage from our co-producer and photographer Anne Paq from Gaza and also from the UNRWA which we are beginning to incorporate in our film. We will be providing some of you with access to Anne's photography for the film in a separate update.
Anne is currently in Brazil and returns to Palestine next month. You can read about Anne's struggles and experiences in Gaza in this article "Witnessing Life in Gaza through the Lens".
2. We have been working closely with our Assistant Editor Ramon Campos on transferring all footage to Final Cut Pro and editing new versions of the footage. We will be sharing a newly edited 14-15 min opening scene of the film in a separate update. Ramon is currently working from Bogota, Columbia with Roger guiding his efforts from San Francisco.
3. We have also brought on a new Assistant Editor for the film, Ahmed Elabd, a talented young filmmaker who lives in Brooklyn and is originally from Egypt. Ahmed has previously worked as an Assistant Editor for the film Word of Witness about the Egyptian revolution by Mai Iskander and currently screening in theatres around the country. He is also editing a new documentary called Holy Land about Israeli settlements by Peter Cohn. We are fortunate to have Ahmed join our team last week and look forward to working with him.
4. The team is receiving guidance from an award-winning editor Geeta Gandbhir, who worked on the films Budrus with Julia Bacha and "When the Levees Broke" with Spike Lee, among others. We are lucky to have her help guide the creative vision for our film!
5. We are pleased to say that our new production company, Flying Paper Productions LLC finally received approval in the State of New York, which is great news as we expand our work and continue fundraising the $25-40K needed for film finishing in coming months.
We are also a fiscal program of Fractured Atlas, a 501c3 nonprofit organization supporting the arts in New York. We encourage donors to continue to contribute directly through our Fractured Atlas online donation page.
6. Finally, we plan to do many private screenings (of film excerpts) and fundraisers around the country in coming months. Our next screening event will be at Busboys and Poets in Washington D.C. on Monday 6:30-8:30pm, September 10, 2012. The event will be hosted by American Friends of UNRWA; thanks to Julia Hurley and Abby Smardon for helping us organize it. Let us know if you would like to join us in D.C. or help us spread the word.
If you have ideas and suggestions for other such events in coming months, please let us know.
We are working hard towards a Sundance submission deadline in late-September. Thanks for all your continued support of our film.
Warm wishes on behalf of the entire Flying Paper team,
Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill (Co-Directors)
Flying Paper: Thanks to our contributors and creative team - please stay involved with our project ...
We just wanted to share one final update with you today as our Kickstarter Campaign for Flying Paper has officially been completed. This morning we were delighted to hear that the final tally of funds received were $28,956 (or 115%) from 286 backers - many who contributed in the last few hours before the campaign successfully ended.
This has far surpassed our initial goal of $25,000 and our modest expectations for such a crowd-sourced funding campaign, the first time we've ever tried to do so. Thanks to all of you for being so supportive of our efforts over the past few weeks, spreading the word, and contributing to the project so generously.
We've included a snapshot image of our Kickstarter funding progress (below) since we launched the 45-day campaign on April 24th, till the exciting moments as contributions ramped up in the final days since June 1st. A truly remarkable trajectory!
While many of our backers (roughly a third) are friends and family, most of you probably only heard about this project (and us) for the first time. We are really quite moved by all the support we have received from around the globe over the past few weeks.
You are all part of the extended Flying Paper family now and we will continue to keep you abreast of our efforts, though at a far more relaxed pace (1-2 updates a month at most). You may also subscribe to the regular Featured Articles we post on our site.
As we mentioned earlier, the funds we've raised through Kickstarter will primarily support editing, animation and post-production work over the summer, while we will continue raising additional funds to meet our overall film production budget of $85,000 in coming months, through private donors, grants and distribution fees (we previously raised around $25,000).
While the Kickstarter Campaign is now closed, additional contributions can be directed to our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas. Flying Paper is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization in New York. Contributions that support Flying Paper must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
You may direct anyone willing to make additional contributions here for secure online payments through Fractured Atlas:
In coming weeks we will begin to share some of the "rewards" with you including high-resolution digital images and sneak preview videos from the film, while we expect to complete the film and submit to various international festivals this fall. We also will let you know if we plan to do any limited preview screenings of the film around the US or abroad.
Stay tuned for many exciting events and global youth media initiatives we hope to launch in conjunction with the film later this year.
Finally, thanks to our amazingly talented team for all their tireless efforts these past few months:
Anne Paq and Paul Lee (co-producers in Bethlehem and Toronto), Abeer Ahmed (our young producer in Gaza), Ramon Campos (Assisting Editor with Roger Hill), Daniel Nienhuis (Animator), Francois Vaxelaire (Website and Print Design), Naghmeh Abbasi (Digital Tape Transfers), Farzad Wafapoor (Trailer Editing), Amber Fares (Photographer), Hadeel Assali (Creative Consultant), Sara Fusco (Production Coordinator), Julia C. Hurley (Outreach Coordinator), and Voices Beyond Walls (our youth media production team in Gaza).
There are of course many more we can barely mention here... we could not have come this far without everyone's efforts over the past 2-3 years.
A special thanks to our supporting institutions and partners:
United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza and Jerusalem
MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) in Cambridge
The School of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement in New York
Film production supported in part by:
National Geographic All Roads Seed Grant
Genevieve McMillan‐Reba Stewart Foundation in Boston
The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)
Krishen and Geeta Mehta, David and Suzanne Hill, Anne Marie Chomat (our early backers) and all our contributors on Kickstarter and Fractured Atlas
This film is dedicated to the creative resilience of Palestinian children in Gaza.
Warm wishes on behalf of the entire Flying Paper team,
Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill (Co-Directors)
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