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May 3, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Charged in the name of terror

With Lynne Stewart, Steve Kurtz, Susan Youssef and Mary Billyou

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May 13 | 7 pm

Untitled Video on Lynne Stewart and Her Conviction, The Law and Poetry (2006)

By Paul Chan | Running time 17:30

 

On February 10, 2005, Lynne Stewart was convicted of providing material support for a terrorist conspiracy. She is the first lawyer to be convicted of aiding terrorism in the United States. Stewart faces thirty years of prison and will be sentenced in September 2006.Untitled… is a video portrait of Stewart. The video focuses on the relationship between the language of poetry and the language of the law.

Stewart speaks both languages, and employs poetry as a “knotting point” to connect ideas of beauty and justice for juries and judges alike. The film takes Stewart’s understanding of poetry and the law as a departure point to explore the possibilities of a poetics capable of articulating the pressures of terror and justice.

The film [simply] shows Ms. Stewart talking; in a sense it is a self-portrait. She talks about her trial, about her career as an activist lawyer and about a personal politics that sounds instinctual rather than ideological. She also read poetry.

One of the poems she reads is William Blake’s “On Another’s Sorrow” from “Songs of Innocence”. It isn’t “political” in any overt way. It is filled with both questions and answers. While she reads, Mr. Chan turns the screen into a field of changing colors, so that we concentrate on the music of the words, the activism of the soul that poetry is, the power outlet that art can be. It’s a simple device, and like any effective political action, right or wrong, brilliant because it works.

–Holland-Cotter, New York Times, January 17th 2006

For more info on Lynne Stewart

Steve Kurtz Waiting (2006) By Jim Fetterley and Angie Waller | Running Time 15:32

On May 11, Steve Kurtz phoned 911 to report his wife of 20 years was unresponsive. When paramedics came to his house, one of them noticed that Kurtz had laboratory equipment, which he used in his art exhibits. The paramedics reported this to police and the FBI sealed off his house.

Authorities later said that Kurtz’s wife had died of “heart failure,” but he wasn’t allowed to return to his home for two days while the FBI confiscated his equipment, and biological samples. They also carted off his books, personal papers and computer.

The contradiction between the charges for possessing harmful substances and the county health commissioner assessing that no hazardous substances were found in the house leaves only the conclusion – that ideas, when misunderstood or disagreeable, are toxic.

Kurtz is one of the founders of the Critical Art Ensemble, a group whose beginnings in filmmaking over a decade ago have evolved into public performances and videos that educate the public about the politics of biotechnology. All of CAE’s museum and public performances are meant to not only inform the public about the ways their lives are affected by biotechnology, but also to dispel public paranoia that is generated by the media and a lack of understanding.

Steve became the victim of this paranoia, and through the extended powers of the US Patriot Act, he still awaits trial for mail fraud. If found guilty, could face up to twenty years.

“Steve Kurtz Waiting” by Jim Fetterley and Angie Waller is a video portrait of Steve Kurtz during a moment of indefinite anticipation as routine court litigations continue. Through a series casual interviews, Kurtz reveals an admirable calmness, spirited humor and a strong will to continue his role as a cultural producer after months of close surveillance, black vans, continued government scrutiny, and notably in addition to, the mourning of his close partner.

For more info on Steve Kurtz

For the Least (2007) By Susan Youssef | Running Time 6:55

“For the Least” is a short documentary about American Catholics who march to Guantanomo to bring spiritual comfort to the prisoners and an end to the torture they endure.

In December 2005, Catholic Workers–people of faith following the tradition of Dorothy Day–marched over 70 km in the hopes of entering the prison. Ultimately, although they could not actually visit the prisoners, they camped outside the Cuban military limit, fasting and praying for the detainees.

The video is in the format of a letter written to the U.S. Department of Treasury that currently investigates the activists’ journey to Guantanamo.

If found guilty for breaking sanctions on Cuba by marching to Guantanamo, the Catholic Workers can face up to $50,000 in fines or 20 years of jail time.

For more info on Witness against torture

Mohamed Yousry: A Life Stands Still (2006) By Mary Billyou and Annelisse Fifi | Running Time 20:00

Mohamed Yousry: A Life Stands Still is a short documentary on Mohamed Yousry, a naturalized American citizen who’s life changed radically after September 11, 2001. Mohamed immigrated to the United States in 1980. For the next twenty years, he developed a full and happy life, as a husband, father, and academic. On September 13, 2001 Mohamed was approached by the FBI on his doorstep in Queens, NY. Currently, Mohamed is appealing his prison sentence and waiting to find out what more his fate will bring.

For more info on Mohamed Yousry

 

Details

Date
May 3, 2007
Time
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Program:

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

Into My Life

 

Collaborative Studio film premiering at Tribeca and HotDocs! A rich, overlooked archive paying tribute to the work of a mother-daughter duo

World Records

 

We’ve launched our new peer-reviewed documentary journal World Records. Volume I, The Documentary Camera, is now online!