Ik women in Napeitom Village, Ikland as seen in IKLAND, a film by Cevin Soling and David Hilbert. Picture courtesy Spectacle Films. All rights reserved.
- Fanny Walker
- Israel Byaruhanga
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Opened: 06/15/2012 QUAD Cinema
|Quad Cinema/NYC||06/15/2012 - 06/21/2012||7 days|
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How often does one film have the opportunity to right a wrong against an entire people? On June 15, Spectacle Films, Inc. and New York's QUAD Cinema are proud to present the award-winning non-fiction film, IKLAND (88 minutes) winner of the Best Content Prize of the 2011 Boston International Film Festival.
In 7th grade, award-winning filmmaker and author Cevin Soling (THE WAR ON KIDS, A HOLE IN THE HEAD) (the illustrated book series, The Rumpleville Chronicles) read a handout in his Social Studies class about the Ik tribe of Northern Uganda. The handout described how the Ik were disparaged in 1972 by British anthropologist Colin Turnbull in his widely read book, The Mountain People, as sadists who starved their own children and defecated in front of each others' homes for fun. They were reviled as the worst and most depraved beings on Earth. It was recommended that their culture be destroyed for its own good. No one had dared to film them in the 40 years since they were first studied--not only because of Turnbull's cultural hatchet job, but because organized murder and civil wars had turned Northern Uganda into a terror zone.
Soling held on to that article for years; he found it comically absurd. But something in it aroused his indignation. Even as a kid he found it hard to believe that an account of an entire group of human beings could be so uniformly and purely horrible. As the years passed, Soling found little written about the Ik and little that challenged Turnbull's conclusions. He knew he had to discover the Ik for himself.
In 2006, with the help of award-winning photojournalist David Pluth, and Nichole Smaglick, the founder of Another Land, a cultural organization which creates opportunities to visit and interact with African villagers, Soling and a team of six risked their lives and set out to find and film the Ik.
"I did not know how the Ik would be before I arrived. If they were as horrible as Turnbull described, it would be cinematic gold, but if they were not, I would have the opportunity to redeem their reputation. This would be an even more exciting prospect because it is a nobler cause."
Soling's film career has always been one of juxtaposition and synthesis--finding unique ways to reveal underlying beliefs and systems and, at the same time, merge disparate cultures by providing experiences that would create equal footing for each.
With the help of theater coach Fanny Walker, Soling's plan was to engage the Ik in a project or performance that his crew and the Ik could create together. "My vision and approach to filming the Ik also had to diverge from films which infantilized less technologically advanced cultures. I insisted that the crew be included as participants. I wanted to show the Ik in relation to us, as opposed to in contrast with us, in order to allow their identities to unfold."
Soling chose Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as a definitive Western story of redemption. He hoped that the Ik's willingness and ability to perform the play would mark the redemption of their reputation.
Soling and his team spent three weeks with the Ik and shot more than 70 hours of film. When Soling returned to the United States he showed the raw footage to filmmaker David Hilbert to see if he thought there was a movie there. Hilbert immediately saw that there was.
Like Soling, Hilbert felt that his formal approach must be unique. "Our emphasis in the editing room was to show people as individuals...you just can't describe a culture at large." Incorporating simultaneous, multiple images, Hilbert created a compelling antidote to Colin Turnbull's libel and fashioned a story with the numerous points of view required to see and come to know a "People".
Soling and his team discovered an endearing community of compassionate, thoughtful individuals with a theology and ethic of the highest order.
At times cheerful, at times subversive, always riveting, this 88 minute documentary culminates in Ikland's production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
IKLAND (88 minutes -- not rated) Opens June 15 at NY's QUAD Cinema, 34 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 p: 212-255-2243 f: 212-255-2247/ firstname.lastname@example.org.
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