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“Refuge” Work-in-Progress Showing

2011 August 1

“Refuge” Film has Work-in-Progress Showing at
Psychologists for Social Responsibility Conference

In July, The Refuge Media Project was invited to present excerpts from our film-in-progress, Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture, at “Transforming a world in Crisis,” the national conference of Psychiatrists for Social Responsibility. PsySR is an almost 30-year-old organization of psychologists, students, and others “committed to promoting peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability.” For some members it has served as a focus for concerns they feel are not being adequately addressed by the much larger and more established American Psychological Association — in particular, the involvement of psychologists in arguably abusive interrogations.
            Coincidentally, the Refuge Media Project’s former Associate Producer, Roz Dzelzitis, was visiting from her new home in Washington, DC, and was able to take part in the presentation as well. 
We showed a 12-minute montage of interviews – both survivors and caregivers – illustrating the range of personalities and viewpoints that will be featured in the film, and followed that with extended excerpts from our interviews with two survivors, young women from Liberia and Cameroon – both, at the time of their interviews, seeking asylum in the United States.
            Reinforcing the “refuge” theme, the discussion focused on issues facing asylum seekers. We were fortunate to have the participation of Judy Eidelson, PhD, a clinical psychologist from Philadelphia who has extensive experience in documenting the psychological effects of torture for people seeking asylum, and Marie Forgeard, MA, a graduate student, who is working with asylum seekers under Judy’s supervision. (See Judy’s thoughtful post, Traumatic Memories, Well-Founded Fears, and Credibility on the PsySR blog.)
            The audience discussion was thoughtful and well-informed; coming from the sort of people we hope will be using the film in their work when it’s completed, it was particularly helpful to have their feedback. We hope to have more screenings like this in the months to come.
            Since I was providing the video projection equipment for the Refuge session anyway, I volunteered to handle projection for a couple of other presentations as well, including an advance, fine-cut screening of PsySR member Martha Davis’s interesting new documentary, Doctors of the Dark Side, on the involvement of United States psychologists and physicians in abusive interrogations. The film’s not available to the public yet, so I won’t comment further on it, but will post on it when it comes out. In the meantime, there’s a trailer on the film’s website.

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