Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A United Nations Day

When I told my mother that BEYOND BELIEF was screening at the United Nations the day after Easter, she reacted with the kind of surprise and amazement that told me I had earned her respect in a new way. "Wow. Beth. The United Nations..." is all the formerly eloquent English teacher could muster. My mother-in-law had a similar reaction, and the next thing I knew the three of us were having our picture taken in front of UN Headquarters with the 179 Member State flags flying in an undulating row behind us and sharing stories about my family's Italian and Hungarian heritage and my husband's Irish ancestry.

At lunch when the waiter suggested the special turbot fish that had just been flown in from Holland, I couldn't resist. We were heading to the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, after all, and I imagined this high-end fish was just the kind of meal a Netherlands diplomat and former Secretary-General would eat during lunch breaks. Two hours later, I greeted UN staffers and special guests with a full belly and a new nickname: "Turbo" (which we decided was better than "Litte Miss Fifty Dollar Fish").

Every time I have an opportunity to connect with audiences I am grateful. But to do it at the UN was something truly special. The event was organized by Gay Rosenblum-Kumar for the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the United Nations Development Programme, and Susan Koscis of Search for Common Ground. Together, Gay and Susan's sheer love of film and dedication to advocacy keeps a film series going on a shoe-string budget.

Following the screening, I joined Susan Retik (one of the 9/11 widows featured in the film) and S.K. Guha, a senior program specialist with the United Nations Development Fund for Women, for a panel discussion with the audience. A Norweigan woman in the front row made an astute observation about the Taliban's misrepresentation of Islamic law. An American diplomat wanted to understand how my own life had been effected by the filming experience. And an Iraqi refugee wanted Susan to share her thoughts about the politicization of 9/11 - "How do you feel about your husband's memory being used to fuel other acts of violence?" he asked.

As Susan began to answer, I looked up into the crowd, and all the way in the back row I could see my mother... snapping pictures...

1 comment:

Paula said...

My husband and I watch Beyond Belief Friday evening. We were both in awe of women. Period. The strength and emotional survival of both women in America and Afghanistan who suffered such traumatic losses due to the Taliban is beyond words. Beyond. Period.

Thank you Beth for bringing this to film ... I wish each and every person in America AND Afghanistan would take the time to watch this documentary, take it to heart and be as touched as we were.

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