Monday, August 5, 2013

Behind the Screen: A Season for Dancing.

Note: Moving Pictures is featuring the filmmakers from the CSWE 2013 Virtual Film Festival sharing the stories behind the making of their films. Here's how you can see the films and vote for the Virtual Ovation Award. The award consists of a $500 prize and will be presented to the top-ranked film in the Virtual Film Festival, as determined by the audience. 

Filmmaker Moges Tafesse, right, with crew
at the party celebrating Meseret's arrival
Filmmaker Moges Tafesse explains below the process for capturing the story of 16-year-old adoptee Meseret as he reclaimed his cultural heritage with the support of his American father.

A Season for Dancing chronicles 16-year-old Meseret’s journey with Marcus, his adoptive father from Georgia, toward personal healing, restoring relationships with family and childhood friends, redeeming his cultural identity, and achieving his dreams for the future.

Director-writer Moges Tafesse (MSW, PhD) runs a small firm in Ethiopia engaged in the production of short films, documentaries, and TV programs. When he worked for a adoption organization that connects Ethiopian children with families in France, he observed the plight of adoptees who were disconnected from their family, culture, and language and came back to Ethiopia to see their family and culture but ended up feeling desperate and alienated. During his MSW and PhD courses "Practice With Children and Families" and "Action Research," Moges sensed the gravity of the issue of intercountry adoption. He thought of making a short documentary film on adoption using the principles of action research as a way to highlight the issues.

In 2011 Marco Orsini, president of the International Film Talents Association in France, recommended that Moges produce a film on a family traveling to Ethiopia. Moges resolved to take the assignment with an open mind, avoid hasty generalizations about intercountry adoption, yet seek examples that might show that connecting adoptees with their home country and culture makes them more fulfilled human beings.

Preproduction began with an extensive assessment of Meseret’s life in Georgia, then a tentative production script was prepared. Production was performed in 45 days, following a chronological order of Meseret’s life that sought to capture a period of 5 years. Postproduction took 6 months. The main challenge was production costs. An online fund-raising campaign was attempted but was unsuccessful, so Marcus and Moges covered the production costs.

Meseret’s story challenges many commonly held stereotypes and misconceptions about orphans and street children, illustrating their potential for brilliance when adequately nurtured and given the opportunity to shine. Another theme of the documentary is Marcus’s desire to connect with parts of Meseret that had been closed to him, thereby strengthening their bond as father and son. The film endeavors to see the world from Meseret’s point of view.

Read the transcript of the August 8, 2013, Twitter chat with filmmaker Moges Tafesse.

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