Monday, November 17, 2008

"Returned" Wins Society for Visual Anthropology Award for Best Student Work

For Immediate Release
San Francisco, CA (November 17, 2008)


"Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" directed by Robert Koenig and co-written by Brandon Kohrt, MD/PhD student in Anthropology and the School of Medicine at Emory University receives the 2008 Best Student Work Award from The Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA), a section of the American Anthropological Association.

The SVA jury lauded the film's scope and depth in revealing conditions before, during and after the eleven-year civil war between the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists and the Government of Nepal, which impacted those Nepalese boys and girls of different ages who joined armed communist groups. The film examines conditions that led children to connect to the communist military groups, the positive aspects and risks of the children's association with the Maoists, and the after effects of the U.N.'s policy of sending children to their home villages following the 2006 peace accord.

Koenig and Kohrt's parsimonious film carefully balances explanations and analysis offered by various professionals with scenes of Nepalese children involved in communist-inspired activities. Most telling, however, are young people's own statements about their experiences—statements that simultaneously reveal the rapport and trust established between themselves and the filmmaker. Youths' remarks about the discriminatory acts that fueled their support of the Maoist cause, their descriptions of the benefits many felt they accrued, and finally, the children's emotionally-laden stories of the often discriminatory conditions they encountered upon return to their home villages, reveal a range of extraordinary experiences. Two boys and two girls' individual experiences capture the variety of young people's experiences and negate any oversimplification. Combined with admirable camera work, the film's recurrent "grounding" in scenes of the country's landscape provides the context of the children's remarkable lives.

This film would be useful in courses that include such topics as human rights, warfare, child soldiers, community responses to unprecedented change, and the challenges of childhood and adolescence. At 30 minutes, there is time to see the film and to discuss the significant issues it raises.


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A screening of "Returned", will take place on Friday, November 21 at 11:40 AM at the Hilton San Francisco in Franciscan D Ballroom, followed by a discussion with filmmakers Robert Koenig and Brandon Kohrt. For more information about the 2008 SVA Film, Video and Multimedia Screening Program or the AAA Meetings in San Francisco please click here

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fears for 10 thousand child soldiers in Nepal

video



Fears for 10 thousand child soldiers in Nepal

Updated Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:54am AEST
Rights groups say more than 10-thousand Maoist child soldiers in Nepal need help integrating back into their communtiies .. after failing to be registered at UN monitored camps.


Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speaker: Suman Khadka, Save the Children Nepal, Robert Koenig, producer of a soon-to-be-released documentary called 'Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army'


COCHRANE: Nepal's 10 year civil war attracted thousands of young boys and girls away from their villagers and into the jungles to fight, cook and spy for the rebel Maoists. Many children were performers in cultural groups which spread propaganda in remote villages. With the official end of the war in late 2006 came promises to immediately discharge all child soldiers, but two years on, little has been done. The Maoists, who now head the after elections this year, registered 30-thousand fighters and the UN decided that around 3-thousand of those were under age of 18. But Suman Khadka, a child rights advocate for Save the Children in Nepal, says the 3-thousand who currently live in UN-monitored camps, or cantonments, are just the tip of the iceburg.

KHADKA: There was so many children outside the cantonments, informally, who never even came to the cantonments... and now we actually realise the ones who are in the community are much more vulnerable and they actually need equally support if not more.

COCHRANE: Experts say its impossible to put an exact number on how many child soldiers there are in Nepal, but Ms Khadka estimates that less than a third of young fighters are in Maoist camps.

KHADKA: I think we are saying 15,000 children including those children in the cantonments, but that means at least 10 to 12,000 are actually outside in the community.

COCHRANE: Ian Martin is the chief of the UN Mission in Nepal, which has assisted with the peace process. He and others in the UN have pushed for the immediate discharge of child soldiers, as called for in the peace deal. But Mr Martin says reintegration has been delayed by concerns from the former rebels that child soldiers they trained could be re-recruited by other smaller armed groups who continue to fight for various causes.

MARTIN: That's a concern, in fact, which the Maoist leadership expresses to us as to why they dont want those who are still in the cantonments to be discharged, unless and until arrangements have been made to reintegrate them effectively. They specifically express concern that they might join other armed groups and there are people who, even if they came very late into the cantonments, have had some degree of physical and even military training there.

COCHRANE: UNICEF and other childrens organisations have started working with child soldiers, both inside and outside the camps to faciltate their return home. But that's not always an easy process. Robert Koenig is the producer of a soon-to-be-released documentary called 'Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army'.

KOENIG: The child soldier in Nepal is not what you think of as child soldiers in say Africa or in other places around the world where there is this forced recruitment, where in Nepal there seems to be more of an indoctrination program and the indoctrination starts very early, they have these indoctrination programs that go around to the schools... and for the most part, most of the Maoist kids that we met were really into the idea of being a Maoist.

COCHRANE: Many young fighters joined the Maoist army to escape Nepal's entrenched caste system, gender discrimination and poverty. Those who try to return to their villages, often find those issue are largely unchanged. The documentary makers found many young boys who left the Maoists ended up migrating to India or the Middle East to work, while girls, considered impure under the strict Hindu culture for leaving the village, are often forced to get married.

For some young Maoist fighters, their actions during the war mean they aren't welcome back home, as Robert Koenig explains.

KOENIG: You have, you know, 15 year olds who were running villages at gun point, and some of them were extorting money from people, there were kidnappings, there was vigilante justice involved, so there are a lot of issue with these kids going back home again.

COCHRANE: Suman Khadka, from Save the Children, says it could take two years or more to reintegrate Nepal's child soldiers and says the issue deserves more attention, both in Nepal and the world.

KKHADKA: Maybe in the middle they thought you know, if we focus too much on this it's going to disrupt the peace process... The other political parties don't really give so much attention to it, neither do the general overall civil society of Nepal, nor even the international community... so relatively I feel not enough has been done.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Photos from the Hollywood Premiere of "Returned"at the Artivist Film Festival and Director Robert Koenig at The Artivist Awards



Robert Koenig outside The Egyptian Theatre where "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" made its Hollywood premiere on Oct 4, 2008.



Director Robert Koenig at The Artivist Awards



Director Robert Koenig talking to Reporter on the red carpet



Robert Koenig talking to Reporter about "Returned:Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army"



Director Robert Koenig accepting the award of Best Short, Children's Advocacy for "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" at the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival



Robert Koenig after the awards ceremony and reception with the Artivist Award for Best Short, Children's Advocacy for his film "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" Wins Artivist Award for Children's Advocacy at the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival

For Immediate Release
Hollywood CA (October 1, 2008)

"Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" makes its Hollywood premiere on October 4, 2008 at 3:30 pm at The Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028.

Additionally “Returned” has been selected to receive the award of "Best Short, Children's Advocacy" at The Artivist Awards ceremony, which will be take place at 7:00pm on Sunday, October 5, at The Egyptian Theatre. There will be a red carpet event prior to the ceremony and a catered reception afterwards.

The film “Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" examines the reintegration of child soldiers after the recent the civil war in Nepal.

When asked about the driving force behind picking the topic of child soldiers in Nepal, the film's director Robert Koenig said, “Like most people, I generally am concerned about the suffering of children. However, I was not fully aware of the plight of former child soldiers in Nepal until a researcher friend, Brandon Kohrt, who later became the co-writer of "Returned," told me about his work with former Nepali child soldiers and the communities to which they are returning." "Returned” gives a voice to these children and bring a larger awareness to the difficulties that they are now facing.

Chris Riedesel, VP of The Artivist Collective asked Robert Koenig to describe his feelings about being honored with an Artivist Award.

“Receiving the award of Best Short, Children's Advocacy for "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" at the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival is an amazing honor.” Koenig said. “I was delighted just to have the film selected as part of the Artivist Film Festival, because their mission of raising awareness for global causes furthers the mission of our film. Receiving an Artivist Award makes me appreciate that this film has the potential to influence people to take action and help these children. I am extremely proud of the entire team that worked so hard to make this film a reality.”

The 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival will take place on October 2 – 5, 2008, at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California. Additionally, Artivist Films be touring a selection of films over the following two months in London, Lisbon, Mexico City and Tokyo.

Films that premiered at the Artivist Film Festival include ACADEMY AWARD winner "Born into Brothels", ACADEMY AWARD Nominee "Super Size Me", ACADEMY AWARD Nominee, "God Sleeps in Rwanda", and the premieres of "Fast Food Nation", "Emmanuelle's Gift", "Trudell", and more.

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To see a preview or learn more about the film Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army go to http://nepaldocumentary.com/

To arrange for Robert Koenig to show the film "Returned" and speak to your school, group, workshop or seminar, or to arrange an interview with Robert Koenig or Brandon Kohrt, please go to the contact page at www.nepaldocumentary.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

Award-winning Documentary about Child Soldiers coming to NCF

Award-winning Documentary about Child Soldiers coming to NCF
By Suzy Woltmann
Excerpt from:
Catalyst Volume XXV
Wednesday, September 24, 2008; Page 10

Renowned filmmaker Robert Koenig is visiting New College to exhibit this 30-minute documentary about child soldiers in Nepal. At 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 and 26, the Emmy nominated director will be showing the film, "Returned: Child Soldiers of Maoist Nepal" and he will be on hand for a question-and-answer session after the film. The documentary, according to its official website, explores how Nepal went from what some in the media put it "Shangri-la to hell in ten years." It examines why children feel compelled to join armed forces and groups in Nepal and investigates ways to improve the lot of these children through the voices of child soldiers, Nepal leadership and experts in the field.

Nepal has been rife with political crises for over a decade. The country has recently has been plagued by a Maoist insurgency and a civil war that the rebels have dubbed the "People's War." This guerilla rebellion began on Feb. 13, 1996 when the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist declared war on the then of Kingdom of
Nepal. Both the Maoist and the government forces used tactics condemned by the European Union, including the heinous crime of recruiting and abusing child soldiers for their cause.

"I found the children involved to be very compelling," said Koenig. "For the most part, children aren't forced into service but rather go voluntarily. They think it's something more innocent,like a special camp or something, until they actually have to fight and kill. These children have issues upon their return home, where
they face stigma and shame within their community."

The documentary reached the Novo Collegiate radar when thesis student Shannon Strischek promoted the film while working as a summer intern for publicist company Savvy Buzz. Strischek kept the film in mind once school started and invited Koenig down to Sarasota using student-allocated funds and appealing to Director of New College Student Activities Konnie Kruzcek, who called the event a "great
opportunity." Strischek sent out several press releases for the exhibition to garner community notice and encouraged both New College students and Sarasota residents to attend the screening.

The film, which Koenig co-wrote with Brandon Kohrt, a medical anthropologist, came out in 2008 and has already won numerous awards at various film festivals, including Best Documentary Short at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, Best Student Film at the Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival and had been selected to
premiere in Hollywood, CA at the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival.

Besides wishing for his film to be "successful," Koenig's objective with the documentary is to increase awareness of the plight of children soldiers and to one day improve their condition.

"I felt that by making this film we could give a voice to these children and bring a larger awareness to the difficulties that they are now facing," said Koenig. "In the future, we want to continue working aid organizations to assist returned child soldiers in reintegrating to their communities."

For now, United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children USA and Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal are the major aid groups that currently have programs in Nepal. These organizations work to get children jobs and help them to come back to their communities and avoid stigmatization, which can be especially difficult for girls. UNICEF and partners are
trying to address this and reintegrate child soldiers back into society in a productive way through vocational training and assistance.

Students interested in learning more about this cause can attend the film screenings, For more information or to contact Robert Koenig go to the documentary websites: www.nepaldocumentary.com

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Documentary on Child Soldiers of Nepal Thursday and Friday September 25 and 26 at New College of Florida



Documentary on Child Soldiers of Nepal Thursday and Friday September 25 and 26

Award winning film director, Bob Koenig’s documentary, “Returned: Child Soldiers of Maoist Nepal,” examines one of the use of child soldiers in the civil war in Nepal. The film will be shown in the Hamilton Classroom Teaching Auditorium on Thursday and Friday September 25 and 26 at 7:00 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Seats are on a first come, first serve basis.

In the past few months, Nepal’s government has undergone extraordinary changes. Despite recent hopes for peace, many people fear anything could upset the process.

“Nepal is going through the worst political crisis in its history,” explains Koenig, . “The monarchy has been abolished and the Maoists, the former guerrilla insurgents, have taken control of the government.”

“This film has the potential to influence people in the U.S. and other developed nations around the world to take action,” says Koenig. “It can help these children at the macro level and at the political level.”

Already the film is garnering a positive response both nationally and internationally. After a successful premiere at Atlanta’s DocuFest, it is slated to air during the United Nations Association Film Festival, receive a jury award from the American Anthropological Association, and admitted into the renowned Artivist Film Festival in Los Angeles.

“All the political parties involved in Nepal, including the U.S. government’s representatives, don’t want the truth uncovered,” Koenig says. “They don’t really want justice, they don’t really want to find out who was involved in which atrocities, because they are all somehow linked to criminal acts of violence.”

“We’re so excited to bring this documentary to New College,” says Konnie Kruzcek, director of New College Student Activities. “It’s such a great opportunity for our students and the community to gain understanding of a country that is so rarely discussed in the news.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with Bob Koenig, please contact Shannon Strischek at (404) 433-1724 or by email at shannon.strischek@ncf.edu.

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New College of Florida is a national leader in the arts and sciences and is the State of Florida's designated honors college for the liberal arts. Consistently rated among the country's top five public liberal arts colleges by U.S.News & World Report - including as the No. 1 public liberal arts college in "America's Best Colleges, 2007 Edition" - New College attracts highly motivated, academically talented students from 40 states and 25 foreign countries.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nepal promotional footage at www.nepaldocumentary.com



Nepal is an amazingly beautiful country. In the documentary "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" the struggle to overcome the harsh terrain in Nepal is a reoccurring theme. This footage was shot by Scott Ippolito for the documentary "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army", directed by Robert Koenig. Go to www.nepaldocumentary.com for more information about "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army".

Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army is listed on IMDB



"Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" is now listed on IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base). Please go to the our IMDB page and rate the film or add your thought and opinion to the user comment area or message board.

Also, there is a listing for Robert Koenig. IMDB works in mysterious ways and I hope that they add more information about the film and the crew. Be sure to check back regularly.

Best,
Robert Koenig

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Returned" is awarded "Best Documentary Short" at 2008 AUFF





This is the updated movie poster for"Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" a film by Robert Koenig, which just won the AUFF "Best Documentary Short" Award for 2008


The awards have been posted for the Atlanta Underground Film Festival. We won Best Documentary Short! Here is the link:

http://festivalleague.com/awards

Thank you all for you continued support of this project! we are already starting work on the feature length version, which will take a more in depth look into the lives of these children.

Cheers,
Bob


For screening information or to read Robert Koenig's other film blog go to:
http://audience.withoutabox.com/films/returned

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Photos from the "Returned" Premiere at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival


Robert Koenig and Brandon Kohrt in front of the Plaza Theatre before the screening of "Returned"



Robert Koenig's film "Returned" Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" Premiered at the Plaza Theatre on August 22, 2008.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" has been accepted into the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival!

Dear Friends,

I just wanted to share with you the letter that I received yesterday from the Artivist Film Festival in Hollywood, CA.

Films that premiered at the Artivist Film Festival include ACADEMY AWARD winner "Born into Brothels",
ACADEMY AWARD Nominees "Super Size Me", "God Sleeps in Rwanda", and the premieres of "Fast Food Nation", "Emmanuelle's Gift", "Trudell", and more.

Thanks again for all of your support!

- Robert Koenig

--------------------------------- ---------

August 19, 2008

Congratulations! We are delighted to officially notify you that your film, "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army", has been accepted into the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival!

We were pleased by the high volume of quality film submissions for this year’s film festival, submitted by a diverse and talented group of filmmakers. Your response to our festival demonstrates the passion and strength of activists around the world, and the power of the visual image. We thank you for joining us in our mission to raise awareness for social, global issues.

The 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival will take place on October 2 – 5, 2008, at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California. Additionally, we’ll be touring a selection of films over the following two months in London, Lisbon, Mexico City and Tokyo.

We are in the process of finalizing the schedules for the Hollywood and international screenings, and will notify you of each schedule when they have been confirmed. Your film will be screened at the main Hollywood festival, but we cannot guarantee that it will be included in the international screenings.

Christopher Riedesel, a Co-founder/Vice President of Artivist, oversees the logistical concerns of all film screenings. He will assign a staff member from Artivist who will be your main contact for all information we will need, as well as for providing any information you will need for being a part of the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival.

We are committed to making the screening of your film a success at the 5th Annual Artivist Film Festival. On behalf of everyone in the Artivist family, we look forward to your participation in this year’s Artivist Film Festival!

Sincerely,



Diaky Diaz,
President/Founder

Bettina Wolff
Vice President/Founder

Christopher Riedesel
Vice President/Founder

Monday, August 18, 2008

Emory Researcher and Filmmaker Team up to Expose Nepal’s New Maoist Government’s Human Rights Violations Against Children.

“Many Nepalese’s’ worst fear was realized when Prachanda, the leader of the Maoist party became Prime Minister of Nepal today,” says Robert Koenig, who interviewed Prachanda and other Maoist leaders during the time he spent making the documentary Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army, which premieres in Atlanta on Friday, Aug. 22 at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival (http://www.festivalleague.com/docshorts2008.cfm).

Prachanda, the former guerrilla leader who led a successful war on Nepal's despotic royal dynasty, has finally taken charge as the Prime Minister of the Himalayan republic on Monday, ending a four-month political vacuum.

Prachanda has received worldwide criticism for his party’s role in the death of thousands and the inclusion of child soldiers in the ten-year-long Nepalese Civil War, also known as the “People’s War”.

Koenig’s documentary Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army follows several Nepali boys and girls as they attempt to reintegrate into civil society after their association with armed Maoist groups to fight the "People's War." The film examines why these children are compelled to join armed groups and explores the prevention of future recruitment through the voices of two girl soldiers, two boy soldiers, and experts in the field.

Former child soldiers in Nepal are more than twice as likely to suffer from symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as Nepali children who experienced war trauma as civilians, according to a study led by Brandon Kohrt, an MD-PhD student at Emory University in Atlanta.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the study results Aug. 13 (http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/300/6/691), in a theme issue on violence and human rights. It is the first published study of the mental health of child soldiers that includes comparative data with children who were not coerced into military service.

Kohrt speaks Nepali and has studied mental health issues in Nepal for over a decade. Along with Atlanta filmmaker Robert Koenig, Kohrt recently won the jury award from the Society for Visual Anthropology for co-writing Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army. The documentary, about the impact of the long-running battle between the Nepal government and Communist insurgents, will premiere this Friday in Atlanta.

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To see a preview or learn more about the film Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army go to http://nepaldocumentary.com/

To arrange an interview with Robert Koenig or Brandon Kohrt, please contact Cassie Bouldin by phone at 727-209-1745 or by email at cassie@savvybuzz.com.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

JAMA Publishes Groundbreaking Comparative Study on Child Combatants

Former child soldiers in Nepal are more than twice as likely to suffer from symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as Nepali children who experienced war trauma as civilians, according to a study led by Brandon Kohrt, a graduate student at Emory University in Atlanta.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the study results Aug. 13, click here to go to the JAMA article online, in a theme issue on violence and human rights. It is the first published study of the mental health of child soldiers that includes comparative data with children who were not coerced into military service.

"Our findings suggest that many former child soldiers may need more than interventions to reduce the mental health problems associated with surviving bombings and torture – often they have to endure being stigmatized when they return to their home villages," says Kohrt, a final-year student in Emory's School of Medicine and a PhD candidate in Emory's Department of Anthropology.

Kohrt speaks Nepali and has studied mental health issues in both Hindu and ethnic minority communities of Nepal for nearly a decade. Along with Atlanta filmmaker Robert Koenig, Kohrt recently won the jury award from the Society for Visual Anthropology for co-writing "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army." The documentary, about the impact of the long-running battle between the Nepal government and Communist insurgents, will air Aug. 22 at the Atlanta Underground Film Festival.

Kohrt conducted the comparative study of former child soldiers of the Maoist army for Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal, a Nepali nongovernmental organization that works conflict affected children. Co-authors of the study include Carol Worthman, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology at Emory; Rebecca Speckman, a graduate student in Emory's Rollins School of Public Health; and colleagues from Nepal and Amsterdam.

The researchers identified 141 former child soldiers, both male and female, who had been coerced to join the Maoists forces. At the time of conscription, the children ranged in age from 5 to 16 years. The matched-pair cross-sectional study included another 141 Nepali children who experienced the war but were not conscripted into a military group. All of the study participants had experienced at least one trauma associated with the war, such as enduring beatings, bombings and torture.

Lengthy interviews were conducted with each child, and standard instruments were used to assess symptoms of psychological difficulties. The results found that both groups of children exhibited similar levels of general psychological difficulties and anxiety, when controlling for the number of traumas they each experienced.

Even after adjusting for traumatic exposures, however, 53 percent of the former child soldiers met symptom cutoff scores for depression, compared to 24 percent of the other children. And 55 percent of the former child soldiers had levels of PTSD that warranted mental health interventions, compared to 20 percent of the other children. The risk of PTSD was especially high for girls who had been conscripted.

"These findings suggest that there is something else – in addition to war trauma – that is causing problems for the former child soldiers," Kohrt says. "One hypothesis is that the reintegration process puts added stress on them."

Some of the child soldiers reported being ostracized upon returning to their home villages because they were seen as "polluted." Girls from Hindu households were especially affected, perhaps due to cultural taboos about girls sharing close quarters with males outside of the family.

Kohrt plans to conduct further research with TPO Nepal, to help determine ways to screen children who experienced the war for mental health problems and to help develop targeted intervention programs. After receiving his medical degree, he hopes to do a psychiatric residency for global mental health and continue working in Nepal as well as other developing countries.

"I want a career that allows me to do evidence-based research and provide mental health care to those in the most desperate need," Kohrt says.

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To learn more about the film Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army go to www.nepaldocumentary.com

To arrange an interview with Robert Koenig or Brandon Kohrt, please contact Cassie Bouldin by phone at 727-209-1745 or by email at cassie@savvybuzz.com.

Friday, July 25, 2008

U.N. EXTENDS MISSION IN NEPAL & EXCLUSIVE VIDEO WITH PRACHANDA DISTRIBUTED

For Immediate Release
Please contact 727-209-1745, Shannon Strischek

U.N. EXTENDS MISSION IN NEPAL & EXCLUSIVE VIDEO WITH PRACHANDA DISTRIBUTED
By, Shannon Strischek

July 25, 2008 - In the past couple of months, Nepal’s government has undergone extraordinary changes. The nation elected its first president this week and Wednesday the UN Security Council voted to extend the UN mission in Nepal to help with the peace process. Despite recent hopes for peace, there is one thing many people fear could upset the process.

“Many people fear that Prachanda, the leader of the Maoist party will agree to become Prime Minister of this new Democratic Republic,” says Bob Koening, who interviewed Prachanda during the time he spent making his newly released documentary “Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal Maoist Army”.

Prachanda is the leader of the largest political party in Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal run by the Maoists. Prachanda has received worldwide criticism for his party’s role in the death of thousands and the inclusion of child soldiers in the ten-year-long Nepalese Civil War.

“We were lucky enough to be given an exclusive interview with Prachanda while filming a story on child soldiers recruited to fight with Maoists,” Koenig continues. “That was before Prachanda was asked to become Prime Minister and the Maoists didn’t know they’d win the elections in such a dramatic fashion.”
Koenig is releasing portions of the interview because of its international importance. The clip shows Prachanda’s dislike for American foreign policy.

Here is a transcript of the available clip. It may be viewed at: http://nepaldocumentary.com/Multimedia.aspx .

“American policy is not good. America's foreign policy, in general, is not good. See what has happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mid-east and everywhere throughout the world; it has been terrible due to their bad foreign policy. American policies are against people. Even in the case of Nepal, we made a 12-point agreement before we stepped into peace process. America was opposed to us. We entered into a peace process, and they opposed. Even now, it hasn't removed us from their terrorist list. American foreign policy is not good for the people of the world. America is not doing anything satisfactory. We think they have to rethink their policies."

“We want a new Nepal, we want to see all Nepalese free, and we want this through constituent assembly,” says Prachanda in the interview. “We would like to especially want to tell you all not to be suspicious about our intentions to hold constituent assembly election.”

“Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army” is a documentary video that follows several Nepali youths as they attempt to reintegrate back into civil society after their association with armed groups linked to the “People’s War.”

A preview of the film can be seen on www.nepaldocumentary.com. The film will be screened in November during the Society for Visual Anthropology's annual Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival as “Best Student Film”. It will also play during the United Nations Association Film Festival Film this fall.
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To arrange an interview with Robert Koenig or film researcher Brandon Kohrt, please contact Cassie Bouldin by phone at 727-209-1745 or by email at cassie@savvybuzz.com .

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

“DOCUFEST” DRAWS ATLANTA MOVIE GO-ERS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE

“DOCUFEST” DRAWS ATLANTA MOVIE GO-ERS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE
by, Shannon Strischek

Atlanta, GA (August 20-24, 2008) – From “Inconvenient Truth” to “Spellbound” documentaries seem to be big business these days. It’s no surprise then, that the 3rd Annual DocuFest is expected to draw big crowds in Atlanta this August. Decatur filmmaker Bob Koenig hopes his own film will steal the show at DocuFest ‘08.

“Nepal is going through the worst political crisis in its history,” explains Koenig. “The monarchy has been abolished and the Maoists, the former guerilla insurgents, have taken control of the government.”

The collapse of the 240 year old monarchy is due to the continuing success of the "People's War", launched in 1996 by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist). Even today, a bloody conflict continues to claim lives.

“Returned: Child Soldiers of Maoist Nepal” looks into one of the most condemned crimes of the Maoist army: the use of child soldiers in fighting forces, particularly the Maoists continue their commitment to recruiting students, sometimes as young as ten-years old, from primary schools.

“This film has the potential to influence people in the US and other developed nations around the world to take action,” says Koenig. “It can help these children at the macro level and at the political level.”

Already the film is garnering a positive response both nationally and internationally. Although its debut will be at DocuFest, it is slated to air during the United Nations Association Film Festival and has received a jury award from the American Anthropological Association.

“All the political parties involved in Nepal, including the U.S. government’s representatives, don’t want the truth uncovered,” Koenig says. “They don't really want justice, they don't really want to find out who was involved in which atrocities, because they are all somehow linked to criminal acts of violence.”

Koenig spent over two years researching and making the documentary. The film’s Director of Research, Brandon Kohrt, an Emory M.D./PhD candidate, is continuing to conduct interviews in Nepal until his return next month.

DocuFest takes place August 20-24, 2008 during the Atlanta Underground Film Festival. Individual tickets are $7.50 but $35 covers an All-Access-Pass for any film during the four-day-festival.

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To arrange an interview with Bob Koenig, please contact Shannon Strischek at 727-209-1745 or by email at Shannon@savvybuzz.com

High Resolution Images Available.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Atlanta premiere of Returned - August 22, 2008

I am thrilled to announce that Returned:Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army will be screening during the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, August 22, 2008 in Atlanta, GA. The film will be screened at The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Friday, August 22, 2008 at 5:00 pm.

Robert Koenig and Brandon Kohrt will be there holding a Q&A after the screening.

For more information about the festival go to:

http://festivalleague. com/docshorts2008. cfm

Friday, June 20, 2008

Child Soldiers in Nepal Get Help from Local Filmmakers

Child Soldiers in Nepal Get Help from Local Filmmakers
By Cassie Bouldin

Decatur, GA (June 23, 2008) – A team of Atlanta-based filmmakers is raising awareness for child soldiers in Nepal, and they’re winning awards in the process.

“This is a story that no one wants to hear because it is gruesome and it’s unbearably sad,” says Robert Koenig, President of Adventure Production Pictures. “We as Americans can’t imagine this type of brutality against a child, and sadly most Americans are unaware of the humanitarian crisis raging in Nepal.”

Koenig and his colleagues spent 12 weeks in Nepal interviewing children as young as 10 years old who were once ran away from home or were kidnapped and forced to fight for Maoist Guerillas. Filmmakers interviewed several of former child soldiers during the making of “Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army”.

“No one wants to discuss this openly, especially on camera and it’s extremely dangerous to try to interview anyone in Nepal on this issue,” says Robert Koenig, Emmy-Award Nominated Producer & Director. “We were stonewalled and it was very difficult to get anyone on camera, for fear of retaliation.”

According to Human Rights Watch, Maoist guerillas have continued using child soldiers, and even recruited more children, despite signing a comprehensive peace agreement with the Nepali government almost two years ago.

“I witnessed the effects of this in person, during the past two years I’ve spent in Nepal working with Transcultural Psychosocial Organization Nepal,” says the documentary’s Director of Research Brandon Kohrt. Kohrt is a medical anthropologist at Emory University. “The saddest part is that after military service the children become outcasts and they can’t find work. Many are forced into abusive child marriages or run away to India.”

“Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army” is a documentary video that follows several Nepali youths as they attempt to reintegrate back into civil society after their association with armed groups linked to the “People’s War.”

A preview of the film can be seen on You Tube. The film will debut during DocuFest, which takes place in Atlanta this August. In November it will be screened during the Society for Visual Anthropology's annual Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival as “Best Student Film”. It will also play during the United Nations Association Film Festival Film this fall.


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To arrange an interview with Robert Koenig or Brandon Kohrt, please contact Cassie Bouldin by phone at 727-209-1745 or by email at cassie@savvybuzz.com.

“Returned” with be screened on Friday, November 21, 2008 at 11:40 AM during SVA Film Festival. The award ceremony will take place at the annual in San Francisco on November 19.

Friday, June 6, 2008

“Returned” wins Jury Award at the 2008 SVA/AAA Film, Video, and Interactive Media Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: San Francisco, CA, June 06, 2008:
Peter Biella, Coordinator, Festival Jury contacted Brandon Kohrt to announce that the 2008 Film, Video and Interactive Media Festival jury has accepted his submission, “Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army”. The jury gave it their "Best Student Film" award out of 17 highly competitive graduate student films in the category. Peter expanded on some of the jury’s comments: The jury was impressed with the documentary’s thoroughness in reaching many types of children, and its investigation into the children’s past, present and future lives. Peter said that the jury felt that the cinematography was sensitive and professional. The jury found the voices of the children to be very eloquent and the film’s argument quite coherent. Each jury member was impressed with the consistency, parsimoniousness and ethnographic sensitivity that the film embodied.

The award ceremony will take place in San Francisco on November 19. Jurors will read prepared commendations for the winning films and show clips. Robert Koenig and Brandon Kohrt will be present to accept the award and speak to the audience about the film.

Clips from award winners will be shown Wednesday night in addition to their regular screening dates. “Returned” with be screened on Friday, November 21, 2008 at 11:40 AM. All award-winning films are followed by a 15 to 20 minute break so that, if filmmakers choose to be present, they may discuss their film with the audience immediately after it has been screened.

“Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army” is a documentary video that follows several Nepali youths as they attempt to reintegrate back into civil society after their association with armed groups linked to the “People’s War.” The child soldier issue in South Asia is quite different than the child soldier issues in Africa and after the major conflict ended in Nepal. The film examines why children join armed groups and explores ways to prevent future recruitment by following the lives of two girl soldiers and two boy soldiers. The children describe how they became associated with the Maoist People’s Liberation Army during the 11-year civil war between the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists and the government of Nepal. The children tell their individual stories, discussing both positive and negative aspects of their association with armed groups. These children are discovering quickly that the return home can be even more painful than the experience of war.

Monday, May 19, 2008

May Update

30 Minute completed and submitted:
This is a huge week for progress on the documentary. Over the last
week or so, Brandon and I have been working hard to complete a fine
cut of the 30 version of the documentary. I am glad to say that we
have completed the first full version of the project and have met the
American Anthropological Association's deadline of May 15. Our goal
for next week is to polish the fine cut into the final cut.

New DVD:
While working hard to get the project out of the door a few new things
came out of it. I have authored a new DVD for the project that has a
more enhanced menu and I have put together a new design for the DVD label

Animated Maps and Credits:
Our art director, Dan Diehl had enlisted the help of fellow artist,
Bryan Hendrix, to create some very high end animated maps for the
history section of the film. Dan is also working on some new scrolling
credits for us.

Musical Score
Harishakar Thapa & Harris Bierhoff cranked out almost a dozen
separate scoring tracks over the last 2 weeks for the project. They
were able to create several versions of each track to accommodate my
editing needs.

Press:
Emory in the World magazine has posted Brandon's article titled "After
War, Child Soldiers Fight a New Battle on their website. If you
haven't read it already it is worth a look:

http://www.international.emory.edu/emory_online/feat_awcsfanb.html

Also check out the Robert Koenig profile page on LinkedIn:


View Robert Koenig's profile on LinkedIn

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Election Update from Kathmandu

Yeah, after that first result in Kathmandu things got turned on it's head. There is a revolution going on here - fortunately a quiet one. The moaists are in the lead by far - with almost 60% of the seats and then UML with about 20% and NC with about 12%. The results are still coming in but there is a clear trend - the old established folks are being kicked out and new 'no bodies' are in their place. I think there were about 6 constituencies that had to cancel their election due to bad behaviour - burning ballot boxes etc. but everything went very smoothly everywhere else. Things were peaceful and well managed in all the stations I visited in Biratnagar, which seems to have been the case in most places. Here's a weblink if you'd like to keep up with the events here.

http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/main.htm

Friday, April 11, 2008

Big News in Nepal and Guest Lecturing

Nepal in the News:

Nepal held the historic constituent assembly elections yesterday. If you have been reading the New York Times or listening to NPR you would have read and hear several people how are participating in our documentary, such as Manjushree Thapa, David Pottie, Kunda Dixit, Ian Martin, Prachanda and Jimmy Carter. It is good to see that the same people who are contributing to these big media outlets are also working with us and that this is getting some news penetration domestically.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/10/opinion/10thapa.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/11/world/asia/11nepal.html?pagewanted=print

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89490015

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88176977


Guest Lecturing:

Today I was invited to speak in the Issues in Cross Cultural Mental Health at Emory University. The discussion went well and I showed the preview of the documentary to the group of undergraduate students. The feedback was very positive; one student said that he thought it was very powerful. Most of the student seemed interested in the film and wanted to know when and where they could the full documentary, so that is a good sign.

Bob

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nepal’s Perilous Ascent By MANJUSHREE THAPA

On April 10th, 2008, the constituent assembly elections took place in Nepal. Manjushree Thapa, who is also in the documentary "Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army" wrote this Op-Ed piece for the today's New York Times. She gives an interesting perspective on the political struggles that Nepal is facing.

Here is the story:

Op-Ed Contributor
Nepal’s Perilous Ascent
By MANJUSHREE THAPA

NEPALIS will vote today for the first time since a democratic uprising in 2006 that rejected King Gyanendra Shah’s absolute rule and led to a peace deal that ended a 10-year Maoist insurgency. This is not an ordinary election. We will be voting for a 601-member constituent assembly that will draft a new constitution that most likely will abolish the monarchy and will certainly restructure Nepal.

It is compelling, and moving, to live through the remaking of one’s nation.

Still, Katmandu has grown hushed and watchful, and anxious, as Election Day has neared. In previous weeks, the political parties staged rallies, canvassed door to door, and filled the streets with scratchy loudspeaker announcements imploring us to vote.

Now the campaigning is over. Electoral violence, though, is on the rise, with officials yesterday reporting eight deaths. Hundreds of international observers, and thousands of their Nepali counterparts, have fanned out to monitor the 10,000 polling places. Jimmy Carter has arrived. The government has declared a five-day public holiday to encourage people to vote, and banned alcohol to ensure public safety.

“So, are you planning to risk your life to vote?” This is the question my friends and I have been asking one another, not entirely in jest.

In the fray are the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which in 1995 started a blood-soaked insurgency that left more than 13,000 dead and the country’s economy ravaged. Used to ruling their rural strongholds by force, members of their Red Guard-style Young Communist League have attacked the candidates and workers of rival parties, and have threatened, rather than wooed, voters. They are convinced that the security forces are working against them. It would surprise no one to see the Maoists stuffing ballot boxes on voting day.

Equally menacing are the supporters of Nepal’s embattled monarchy. In its very first meeting, the constituent assembly is expected to abolish the 240-year-old monarchy. Ultraroyalists have forged a shadowy alliance of high-caste feudal landowners, Hindu fundamentalists and criminals in hopes of spoiling the election with violence. An underground group called the Nepal Defense Army bombed a mosque to incite Hindu-Muslim antagonism; and dark rumors are circulating of further bombings and assassination attempts on Election Day.

Between these two extremes lie scores of liberal and leftist parties, the largest of which are the Nepali Congress Party and the Nepal Communist Party (United Marxist Leninist), a moderate party despite the name.

In the past, these parties have not done much to protect democracy from the onslaughts of the extreme left and the extreme right. Yet the mere possibility of being able to choose from among them at all rouses what the Nepali newspapers call “election fever.”

Democracy may be imperfect, but unlike absolute systems like Maoism and monarchism, it incorporates mechanisms to correct its own flaws.

So, yes: I am planning to risk my life to vote today.

Not that the election will resolve much. Most Nepalis recognize that it will, in fact, send our country into an era of heightened instability.

Immediately after the polls, there will be extensive re-polling in the constituencies marred by rigging and violence. The announcement of results may also be combustible. The Maoists, in particular, are unlikely to be gracious either in the case of a landslide victory or of a humiliating defeat. “It would be ideal if they came in third,” a friend commented. “That would keep them from taking over, but also from going back to war.”

The danger will not end there. When the constituent assembly is formed, it will have to handle the delicate matter of asking the king to step down. So far, Gyanendra Shah has been adamantly opposed to giving up what he feels is his family’s birthright.

But the most bitter struggles will probably erupt over the drafting of the new constitution. The remote, neglected rural regions of Nepal have been demanding autonomous federal states. But to Katmandu-dwellers accustomed to a unitary, centralized state, a “United States of Nepal” can feel like the end of all that is known, all that is certain. The battles ahead are likely to be fierce.

“Three years,” laughs a friend, speculating on how long it will take for our country to become a functioning democracy. Another friend has a more somber assessment: “If we’re lucky, five years.”

On good days we will call this volatile age our “transition to democracy.” On bad days, though, it will feel frightening and even painful.

This is why we are hushed and watchful going into Election Day. This is why we are anxious.

Our sole consolation is the hope that we will become a democracy one day: the dream that we will free ourselves, at long last, from the autocracy of Maoism and monarchy alike.

Manjushree Thapa is the author of “Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy” and “The Tutor of History,” a novel.


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/10/opinion/10thapa.html

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nepal's Child Soldiers on BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/08/south_asia_nepal_faces_the_future/html/1.stm

Monday, March 31, 2008

http://www.myspace.com/nepaldocumentary

Copy and paste this link into your address bar:
http://www.myspace.com/nepaldocumentary

Check out our new Myspace film site dedicated to the film "Returned: Child Soldier's of Nepal's Maoists Army".

This site will keep you updated on the progress of the film and let you know about any news associated with the project.

The major news and the reason that we started this site is that we have recently completed our first preview of the documentary. The preview will be used for fund raising and submitted to granting agencies so they can an idea of what the full documentary will look like. This version will be then made into a slightly longer cut before it is sent off to the Sundance Foundation and ITVS for consideration.

In related news, we have contributed some photos and interview materials to Leora Kahn’s new book “Child Soldiers” that will be published by Powerhouse Cultural Entertainment, Inc. The book will be exhibited in Bonn in June and she has offered an opportunity for us to show an educational version of the documentary at some future speaking events.

Also, we have recently been listed on Documentary Educational Resources donation page. Please feel free to send the link out to anyone you think would be interested. Let them know that their tax-deductible contributions are vital in bringing this project to life.

http://www.der.org/donate/index.html#returned

Thank you for your interest in the film, I really appreciate everyone’s support, this really has been an extraordinary team effort for us to get to where we are right now.

Bob

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good Cause

Returned is a feature length documentary that follows several Nepali child soldiers including Asha, a young Nepali girl, who was sent home from the Maoist’s People’s Liberation Army after the cease fire. Asha joined the Maoist army when she was 14-years-old. For this young low caste girl, joining the Maoist was a pathway to a future with education and employment. Despite two years of being on the frontlines, her biggest concern was what would await her when she returned home. Would she turn to commercial sex work, become a domestic slave, or would she be banished from her home and forced into marriage?

Returned weaves the voices of Nepal’s child soldiers, organizations working to help them, and military leader’s from Nepal’s opposing forces, who answer the challenging questions about their use of child soldiers.

If you happen to run into anyone interested in contributing to the a good cause, please send them the following information:

Our fiscal sponsor, Documentary Educational Resources has listed our project on their donation page. So please feel free to send the link out to anyone you
think would be interested. Let them know that their tax-deductible contributions are vital in bringing this project to life.

http://www.der.org/donate/index.html#returned

Click on the [Donate] button in the "Returned: Child Soldiers of
Nepal’s Maoist Army" section.

Thank you for your interest in our documentary and for helping us with
the fund raising efforts.

I really appreciate it.

Bob

Friday, February 1, 2008

Fiscal Sponsorship

I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for supporting the documentary or at least reading this blog. Production in Nepal went extremely well and we were able to accomplish a great deal.

I am back in the States and I have begun post production on the project. I am working with Brandon Kohrt on writing and editing the full trailer for fund raising and grant applications, but in the mean time, please take a looks at some selected clips that we captured while in Nepal.

http://nepaldocumentary.com/Multimedia.aspx

Also we have been able to partner with great fiscal sponsor, we are privileged to be working with Documentary Educational Resources (www.der.org) in Watertown, MA. They are a non-profit organization founded in 1968 for the purpose of producing and distributing cross-cultural documentary film for educational use. They are a great
fit with our program and this is a big boost when it comes to accepting charitable donation and dealing with the distribution of the film. Many foundations, organizations and government funding agencies require the sponsorship of a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in order to apply for funds. Examples of these agencies include the MacArthur Foundation or the National Endowment for the
Humanities.

Other highlights from the past week or so:

Brandon has gone through 13 interviews and has code them into crazy indexing software, which makes it very easy to find specific instances of when an interview subject talks about a specific issue. We had a meeting this week to discuss the structuring of the fund raising trailer, which should be completed in the next 2 weeks.

Gordon is continuing to research Grants and Funding opportunities. He and I are went to the "Doing Your Doc" workshop last weekend at GSU featuring Fernanda Rossi AKA the Documentary Doctor (http://der.org/community/doc-doctor.php). This workshop which was organized by Kathryn Galan of NALIP, discussed ways of structuring the fund raising trailer as well as other helpful idea about documentary filmmaking. Gordon and I were invited to be mentors for the workshop, which was a great experience.

I have finished transcribing all 17 English interviews. Our translator, Nabi continues to work on the Nepali interview. This week she sent the full Ganesh Man Pun, YCL president, interview and the Prachanda, leader of the CPN-(Maoist) interview this week. I spoke to Prachanda Shrestha on the phone this week. He is going to make sure that the rest of the transcriptions are delivered to Nabi.

Harris has updated the NepalDocumentary.com site, which is looking great. He is working on the new changes for the adventureproductionpictures.com website, which should be up by the end of this weekend.

Thanks again for believing in the work that we are doing,

Best Regards,
Robert Koenig