Monday, February 23, 2009

30 Minute Version of 'Returned' Released by DER. Purchase a Copy Today!

Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army

Directed by
Robert Koenig

Written by
Robert Koenig
Brandon Kohrt

color, 30 min, 2008

Institutional price includes public performance rights
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Imagine being forced to leave your family and fight in war you don't understand - and you are only eleven years old. Sadly, for many of these child soldiers in Nepal this is a reality and the peace process has not solved their problems. These children quickly discovered that the return home is even more painful than the experience of war.

Returned follows several Nepali child soldiers including Asha, a young Nepali girl, who was sent home from the Maoists' People's Liberation Army after the ceasefire. Asha joined the Maoist army when she was 14-years-old. For this young low caste girl, joining the Maoists 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 challenging questions about their use of childen as warriors.

Related Links
To purchase a copy of 'Returned' click on this link.
Returned's official website

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A photo exhibition for Leora Kahn's "Child Soldiers" book is opening today in Brooklyn, NY. I contributed to a chapter in the book and the exhibition will feature photos from prominent photographers. So, check it out if you are in town.
-Robert Koenig

Here is more information:

Child Soldiers: Forced To Be Cruel
PowerHouse Arena
37 Main Street, Brooklyn, 718-666-3049
February 12 - March 8, 2009
Opening: Thursday, February 12, 7 - 9PM

Curated by Leora Kahn and Peter Mantello

Up to half a million children are engaged in more than 85 conflicts worldwide. As armed conflict proliferates, increasing numbers of children are exposed to the brutalities of war. Boys and girls around the world are recruited to be child soldiers by armed forces and militant groups, either forcibly or voluntarily. Some are tricked into service by manipulative recruiters, others join in order to escape poverty or discrimination, while still others are outright abducted at school, on the streets, and at home. Aside from participating in combat, many are used for sexual purposes, made to lay and clear land mines, or employed as spies, messengers, porters, or servants. Kids have become the ultimate weapons of twenty-first-century war.

This exhibition will feature the work of prominent photographers: Dominic Sansoni, Olivier Pin Fat (Agence VU), Alvaro Ybarra Zavala (Agence VU), Peter Mantello, Tomas van Houtryve (PANOS), Tiane Doan na Champassak (Agence VU), Ami Vitale, Bob Koenig, Guy Tillim, Colin Finlay, Jan Grarup (Noor Images), Francesco Zizola (Noor Images), Q. Sakamaki, Zed Nelson (Panos), Francesco Cito (Panos), Martin Adler (Panos), Tim A Hetherington, Richard Butler, Sven Torfinn, Giacomo Pirozzi (Panos), Roger Lemoyne, Rhodri Jones(Panos), Cedric Gerbehaye, Riccardo Gangale.

Child Soldiers focuses on individual stories about these children, captured by photographers and writers from across the globe. The book explores the children’s time as combatants, as well as their demobilization and rehabilitation. Included are Tim Hetherington's photographs from Liberia; Roger Lemoyne and Cedric Gerbehaye’s work from the Congo; Ami Vitale’s series on child Maoist recruits in Nepal; and other work from Burma, Colombia, the Central African Republic, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

Leora Kahn is the founder of Proof: Media for Social Justice, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create awareness of the issues faced by populations in post-conflict societies and to encourage social change through the use of photography and words. Kahn has served as the director of photography at Workman Publishing and Corbis, and is currently at work on global projects with Amnesty International, Participant Films, and the Karuana Center for Peacebuilding. She recently edited the Lucie Award-winning Darfur: 20 Years of War and Genocide in Sudan (powerHouse Books, 2007) in collaboration with Amnesty, and curated an accompanying exhibit that will tour the US this year with the Holocaust Museum Houston. Kahn is currently working on an exhibition in Rwanda with Aegis Trust about Hutu rescuers during the genocide.

Child Soldiers features the work of prominent photographers, who have covered the use of children in combat around the world. Contributing writers include Jo Becker, Children’s Rights Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch, Jimmie Briggs, journalist and author of Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War (Basic Books, 2005), Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Emmanuel Jal, a Sudanese musician and former child soldier, and Michael Wessels, a professor of psychology at Columbia University.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Himalaya Film Festival 14 and 15 February 2009

Press Release
February 2009

Himalaya Film Festival 14 and 15 February 2009

Politics, culture and nature in 53 films

In June 2009, for the first time in ten years, the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama will visit the Netherlands in person. On 14 and 15 February, however, he can already be seen and heard at the Himalaya Film Festival in Amsterdam. 'The Tibetan issue plays a vital role at our festival,' says organizer Mr Glenn Mitrasing, 'but in addition as many as 30 films about Nepal will be screened. In all, 53 films, documentaries and lectures will sketch a picture of the fascinating diversity and the unique character of the Himalayan region.'

The running theme of the 7th edition of the Himalaya Film Festival is 'impermanence'. Mitrasing: 'Everything is impermanent, everything is transient, everything is in motion... In the Himalayan region this appears in many forms. Visitors may, for instance, watch Road to Tibet, a film about a reprise of the non-violent march - just before the Olympic Games. The marchers were stopped at the Indian-Tibetan border, however.

The film The Sari Soldiers is about the attempts of six brave women to shape Nepal's future in the midst of a civil war. Mitrasing also mentions Returned: Child Soldiers of Nepal's Maoist Army, directed by Robert Koenig. This documentary follows several Nepali boys and girls as they attempt to reintegrate into civil society after their associating - as child soldiers - with armed Maoist groups to fight the 'People's War'. Very moving!

Extreme beauty

Besides films with a political undertone, several 'lighter' films will be screened. Mitrasing: 'They emphasize the extreme beauty of the region. An example is Himalaya, Land of Women, which offers the viewers a sensitive and poetic immersion in the life of four generations of women during harvesting season. Or One Crazy Ride, about friendship and "never giving up" during a motorcycle expedition across Northeast India.'


Past, present and future will play a vital role at this festival. 'They are inextricably bound up with each other and always in motion... Conservation architect John Sanday, for example, will talk about the conservation of old buildings and the impact it has on the local community. And Pema Wangchuk will highlight how geo-political decisions have impacted the Dokpas (yak herders). Together with the makers of the 53 films they will give the viewers a diverse and dynamic picture of the Himalayan region, a changing world.'

For more information and for tickets, please visit The Himalaya Film Festival will be held in De Griffioen, the cultural centre of the Free University of Amsterdam, Uilenstede 106, 1183 AM Amstelveen.