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.

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