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Archive for March 2015

Bullies Beware: The Rebirth of the Feminine is Almost Here

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There has been no shortage of shocking news during March’s Month of Madness. Despite the UN calling for a Happy Day this past Friday, it has not been happy for many. After two weeks of vigorous seminars and panels on the plight of violence against women across the globe at the Conference on the Status of Women, where all sorts of inspiring efforts are being put into action to lessen the physical and psychic damage on the feminine, Friday’s news brings yet another story of unspeakable cruelty towards an innocent.

Some of Kabul’s male citizens decided to play morality police and beat and burned alive a 27 year old woman who was accused of burning the Koran. Apparently, the victim may have had learning issues, not that that matters. It is the men who committed such barbarism who have issues…they are all completely mad.

That these men have cell phones and are leading supposed modern lives committed this atrocity in the diplomatic zone of Kabul, where so much international monies have gone to aid Afghanistan is shocking. That a religious leader defends this murder…beyond words.

As my cosmologist friends tell me, a solar eclipse is a force majeure, and if this act, on the last official day of the CSW and the eclipse, doesn’t bode for a rapid shift into another type of consciousness, then when will it ever come?

Nigerians girls abducted, women raped daily, elders tortured as witches, gay and transgender people persecuted…and our Mother Earth, trying to hold it together as she too has been decimated by the greed of capitalism and so- called progress.

We have plenty of statistics…one out of three women have experienced sexual violence and so forth.. IAWRT, The International Association of Women in Radio and Television’s brilliant reporting at the CSW on the percentages of women working in media…who’s delivering the stories that really pertain to women’s needs? The facts are presented…now let’s get on with changing the story.

The Lacanian therapist from France started her talk by describing her own burgeoning sense of herself as a youngster when her mother constantly told her early ‘she wasn’t good enough, she was a girl.’ The power of language to perpetuate myths in societies where patriarchy has gone amok.

As we come to the great Spring religious holidays, Easter, Passover, … let’s think back on traditions that predated Judaism and Christianity, taking place in the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Women’s birth was revered and honored, symbolized by eggs and blood.  According to the archaeomythology (, decorated goose eggs were found in graves dating back to the 4th century and Persians celebrate No-rooz with red colored eggs 3000 years ago. The pagans celebrate Ostara, the uterus, life-giving, estrus, Easter, eggs… you do the math.

So can we make this a time of re-birth, celebrate a re-awakening of the feminine in all of us, where the masculine allies itself with the feminine instead of in competition and destruction. It takes real courage to wake up from a sleep like the one our consciousness has been in for so long. It is enough suffering. Dayenu.

Written by nancykoan

March 22, 2015 at 3:10 am

Danny Schecter, You Told Me So

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Like the rest of Danny Schecter’s admirers, I was shocked and saddened to hear he died. It seems that my whole relationship with this mighty thinker was about unfinished business.

When my film on Abbie Hoffman, <em>My Dinner With Abbie,</em> played up in Boston, Danny the News Dissector was the MC at the theater. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the screening but heard from friends in attendance that Danny made a joke that I was too busy to be there. Well, the truth was I didn’t have the fare…not something an up and coming filmmaker likes to admit, but Danny didn’t know that, so I always thought he had a grudge against me.

Years later when he was living in New York, we reached a sort of detente. He understood that I was a softy in comparison to his political acumen and that I was mostly always broke and mostly always told the truth. I was so glad he was now on my side and introduced him to my partner Howard Katzman, who was swept up in Danny’s South Africa world… a sweep that forever changed Howard’s life for the good.

Danny and I had dinner a few times and saw a couple of films, but our tracks more recently collided when I found myself way over my head in the Fabrice Tourre computer mix up. I, by some ill luck, owned the Goldman Sachs’ brilliant prodigy and sniper’s trashed laptop and had spent over a year trying to figure out how to do DIY interpol work from my east village hovel. I was ill suited for the tension and when I finally presented the case to Danny, he wanted to run with it. He took my personal comedy tale of computer confusion and placed it inside his own storyline. It was great, but I got chicken shit, not having lawyers at my disposal and insisted on waiting before going public.

When I did, it was with the New York Times who got a front page story out of it but left me high and dry and feeling pretty stupid. Danny tried hard not to do a ” I told you so”, but he had and I hadn’t listened.

I will miss his spark on the planet and his clear eyed gaze into what’s wrong with the world. That he died near the solar eclipse is poignant… two forces of nature at a cosmic meet-up.

I promise to stay open to his communication skills pushing through the fourth wall of my dreamscape and will not only listen this time, but report the findings.     RIP Danny Boy.

Written by nancykoan

March 22, 2015 at 1:50 am

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Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Why is that So Hard to Figure?

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The Conference on the Status of Women, 20 years since Beijing, is both great and awful. It’s great because it brings strong and vital women from all corners of the globe to learn, research and share information on the status of women worldwide. It is bad because a great deal of the information is heartbreaking.

Forget the paucity of female leaders in the world… Before colonialism, there were many more female heads of community and tribe.  But that all changed when patriarchy dug its boots in and as we all know, even the US still hasn’t had a female head of state.

What is more disturbing to me than the economic imbalance (which of course, ultimately affects everything else) is the continuing level of violence against women. In so called civilized world, human trafficking is a huge business…it is organized crime and women for the most part are its more constant victims. I think I know good and sane men, but there are plenty of men in the world who wouldn’t think twice about the background of a girl they hire for casual sex…what got her into the spot in the first place, who is controlling her money and her life, and what of the truth that  she actually hates having sex with him. This is possibly too much for a John to consider. After all, the world has been much more his oyster than it has women’s and the imbalance of power is quite a hard thing first to face, and secondly to give up.

That there are thirteen year old girls who are being trafficked is deplorable. These young girls are so young they can’t even get a hotel room. They are everyone’s daughter, niece and sister…truths  that are forgotten in the heat of sexual commerce.

On the plus side  of trafficking, there are organizations like  the Jewish Coalition to end Human Trafficking among others, who work diligently to help the victims and global organizations ready to prosecute the perpetrators of this  form of  modern slavery. And there are other aspects of the organizations like Caravan Studios that work on giving the victims a chance to heal from the trauma.

Another infuriating topic is elder abuse. This subject interested me because I once made a film about Celtic witches. It was about the state of mind of witches, both men and women when they are thinking magically and the history of witches in England. But many elders in Papua New Guinea, and Africa and India, are accused of being witches, because they are old, disabled, or without family protection. These are innocent women who are being tortured today. They are being blamed for a huge assortment of community maladies – a family without a son, bad economic times, etc. the ancient role of sacrifice has never finished. Children who are a little different are also the scapegoat for the troubles of others and are tortured in ways too offensive to describe here. These are human right issues. It is the women who are pointing them out because it’s mostly women and children who suffer.

In India, where so much violence against women has been recorded in the last year, the rate of witch calling and torturing of poor, rural women is growing daily.   How much work must be done to get the police and authorities, first to care and secondly to do something?

When I leave these events, I’m exhausted. Tired from the horrific tales of global truths that are shocking  –and incredibly unjust. And tired from the energy it takes to not think about them all the time. But I do try and remember that at least these truths have shown up in New York City 2015 and that the first step in eradicating the problems is recognition. And that women, despite all the travails of sexism are ultimately unbroken and more courageous than any sniper. And that there are even a few  good men in attendance.  Still, I won’t sleep well tonight or for a long while after.

Written by nancykoan

March 12, 2015 at 2:22 am

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Al Maysles…A Fond Farewell

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TheGates_Nov2005With great sadness I just read my sister’s email that Al Maysles has died. It’s as if a spiritual father has left the cinema.  Darker because of the sudden loss, but assured it will re-illuminate every time one of his powerful documentaries is shown.

I don’t make movies like Al…I’m too busy working out my neurotic wounds to be a fly on the wall, but I adore his films. Who doesn’t? They are smart, funny and like Al, very sensitive. I didn’t know his brother and partner David, but I admired their ability to work so well with each in such ground breaking films as Salesman and Gimme Shelter.

I remember being in the Hamptons in the early 70’s to hear painter Larry Rivers play sax in a small jazz club. And who was in the small audience but Edith Beale, the weird cousin of Jackie O, sitting quietly with that iconic scarf around her head. Grey Gardens had breathed fresh life into Edith and her mother, showing the world what is rarely seen, the underbelly hidden beneath the illusion of family, money and status.

When I went to see Al in the 90’s with a rough cut of my opus, Deep in The Deal, he was anything but flattering. This film, which featured my partner running around arguing with interviewees and me playing good cop to his bad, was nothing like a Maysles’ picture. Clearly, Al didn’t get what we were trying to do, but was so sweet in his critique. I am only sorry that now as I’m in post- post- post production, he will not get a chance to see the finished film.

One of my favorite moments with Al was the day I went shooting The Gates in Central Park. It was horrid weather, but I felt compelled to try and capture the feeling of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s fascinating saffron installation and the people’s reactions to it. Al was making a film on The Gates and running around in a jalopy with his camera and small team. He invited me to hop on board and so we shot together for a few hours, everyone excited to see the great Al, he friendly and open, taking it all in stride. Afterwards, I was invited up to his spacious apartment in the Dakota for tea and toast, entertained by his brilliant wife Gillian. There were such good vibes in his home…his humor and sweetness permeated the space…I never wanted to leave.

photo courtesy of Maysles Productions

Written by nancykoan

March 7, 2015 at 2:33 am

People Get Ready There’s a March in March

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The month of March is very busy and includes the important March for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015.​
The March for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights is being organized by UN Women in collaboration with the City of New York, NGO-CSW, the Working Group on Girls, the Man Up Campaign and the UN Women for Peace Association.

The march will take place on International Women’s Day (March 8) and commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This event will celebrate the achievements women and girls have made around the world since 1995. It will also be an opportunity to underscore the need for political commitment to accelerate action to achieve gender equality by 2030.

We will start at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th street and 2nd avenue) at 2:30 pm and end at Times Square (42nd street and 7th avenue) at 5:00 p.m.

The march will be divided into three parts:

Part 1—A lively start at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. The march will be flagged off by the UN Women Executive Director following a short program of 30 minutes. Eminent celebrities, a New York indigenous women’s group, and a girls’ dance troupe are on the programme.

Part 2—A 1.5-hour march from Dag Hammarskjold to Times Square. The march will be a celebration that will include singing, marching, raising slogans, and showing solidarity for gender equality and women’s rights. At the same time, the march will help point out the existing gaps and barriers to achieving gender equality.

Part 3—An evocative closing at Times Square. The 30-minute program will consist of raising a collective torch to showcase intergenerational partnership. The program will bring together Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, the UN Women Executive Director, the First Lady of New York, the UN Secretary General (TBD) and others. The program will conclude with a song and a call to achieve gender equality by 2030.

In terms of the choreography of the march, the participants will be divided into 12 blocks representing the 12 critical areas of concern in the Beijing +20 Platform for Action. These 12 blocks will be led by the first block that will represent the overall theme of Beijing+20 and Planet 50-50: Step It Up for Gender Equality – March for Gender Equality and Women’s Rights.

The 12 critical areas of concern are as follows:

1.        Women and the environment
2.              Women in power and decision-making
3.              The girl child
4.              Women and the economy
5.              Women and poverty
6.              Violence against women
7.              Human rights of women
8.              Education and training of women
9.              Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women
10.          Women and health
11.          Women and the media
12.          Women and armed conflict

We are preparing 13 banners in addition to many placards, posters, and signs calling for gender equality and women’s rights. We also encourage your organizations to bring your messages to the event and messages and materials for campaigns regarding Beijing+20, gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment

Extensive outreach and mobilization is underway with an intention to bring between 10,000 and 20,000  people to march for gender equality. The last march of this magnitude for gender equality in New York City took place in the 1970s.

Everyone is invited  to join the march and to spread the word far and wide using the hashtags #Beijing20 and #genderequalitymarch. Go to @UN_Women for coverage of the march.

Equal rights for Women’s is Rights is RIGHT!?????

Written by nancykoan

March 3, 2015 at 3:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized