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© 2018 by Pirooz Kalayeh

Filming at SkyArt in Chicago

October 20, 2019

Last week, I visited SkyArt in Chicago to film one of the final sequences in the film.

After speaking to various adults about the issues of racism, I decided it would be good to get perspectives from the future of America. So, I spent three days with elementary school students, discussing what makes a story and how they could tell their experiences in comics and film.

 

The children were quick to discuss Trump, immigration, climate change and what they would say to the barber who refused me a haircut when I was nine years old. 

 

Here are some of their comics:

The last day I had a workshop with teenagers. They all had incredible statements that I had them write down both in their comics and also on a whiteboard shaped like a cartoon bubble. One student blew me away when she said she would tell the nine year old me to embrace my differences. 

For some reason, when she said that, I felt this weight come off my shoulders. 

 

I wonder if they know how healing they all were -- such beautiful thoughts and support. 

Probably the biggest thing I have learned from this experience of exploring racial trauma is that adults tend to see right and wrong very easily. When I tell them about my childhood experience, they are quick to offer their ideologies. The children at SkyArt were very different. For them, it wasn't a question of right or wrong. They simply offered support. 

 

Maybe this is the healthiest thing we can do for people who experience racial trauma -- or any type of traumas in their lives: to support and listen. 

 

Even I have the tendency to form opinions before I actually hear or read the full extent of what someone has to say. 

Maybe the first step in healing each other now and in the future is listening.  

I'm now in Malta filming for the European Graduate School. Yesterday, the artist, Peter Weibel, presented about how art after WWII was a reaction to the trauma of the Holocaust and Hiroshima. He stressed how painting and poetry's beauty were abandoned in a world of "being and nothingness" and moved away from the canvas -- first by being simply objects, such as a piece of curved metal -- and then for the canvas to be burned or destroyed -- and then for body art and performance art to move away from the canvas entirely. 

Peter finally ended his lecture by discussing how media art was now the future of art and that media artists were different from filmmakers because they showed the process of a film coming into being, while filmmakers made these processes hidden like magicians. 

 

That made sense to me. 

 

I suppose we are still recovering from the trauma of war and our own personal traumas, individually. Maybe this is why so many of my films reveal the mistakes and wires behind the curtain. It gives us a glimpse to understanding pain and makes it easier for us to step forward into what our futures will be. 

I see lots of things on the horizon. The first will be to finish editing the film. 

 

We are now nearly halfway completed with the edit. And, by we, I mean me. I had tried to see about someone else editing along with me, but now I can see that we can't really afford that, and I'm not sure anyone else could do it without me guiding it along. I'm constantly doing bits, then re-recording, and then writing, and then editing, and the process keeps going like that. 

 

My hope is to have a rough version of the film done by January. If I do, then we will certainly be ready to submit to festivals by summer.

If you're curious about what it looks like so far, here's the first six minutes as I see it so far. The sound and color haven't been finalized -- and I still might mess with it a bit more. 

 

When I get back to LA in November, I'll also need to film the young boy who looks just like me in San Francisco again. Hopefully, the stars align.

If you'd like to donate to the sound or color correction of the film, please do. Every bit helps. We're still taking donations via the International Documentary Association or my Patreon page

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