ABOUT THE ARTIST
Why did you submit to the Fourth Annual chashama Film Festival?
It seemed like a really good fit for Sasa and for the message of the film.
How is your work illustrative of the country you are from?
It’s illustrative of the place in which it was shot — which is the border between India and Burma. it shows the beauty of the area in contrast to the way the people live; it introduces us to the lives of the people whom Sasa is trying to help, the conditions he’s trying to change, and the obstacles he faces.
Where was the most favorite place where your work was shown abroad?
If it hasn’t been shown abroad, where would you like it to be shown? I’d like it to be shown everywhere, but perhaps the most effective place for it to be shown is at the United Nations. It would be great to figure out a way for that to happen, and I know that Sasa would welcome the opportunity to present his five-year plan for bringing the Chin people out of near extinction, and share that model with other similarly situated peoples.
Are you glad that your work is going to be shown in NYC?
What is the best part about participating in a festival that facilitates discussion with international artists?
The discovery of issues and talent.
ABOUT A RESPONSE TO THE FESTIVAL
What is it about chaos that is most upsetting to you?
Chaos predisposes a society to suppressing the weak and rewarding the bully. It is only humanitarian-based structure that raises us all up and addresses the issues of everyone.
What’s the most rapid social change that you have ever seen?
Well, the uprisings in the Middle East seem like the best most recent example.
How do you find strength in instability?
My own personal method is to create a work that addresses that instability.
What do you do to divert disaster?
I try to be as prepared as possible, within reason, for whatever situation I’m entering.
If you could make a community more peaceful, what would be fulfilling about it?
The most fulfilling end result of peace is that when people are sufficiently secure in the knowledge that their lives aren’t in danger, they’re able to concentrate on generating positive elements into the society: inventions, art, and so on.
ABOUT YOUR FILM
How did you choose your thematic material?
Honestly, this film chose me. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
How do you work with actors? or How do you choose your interview subjects?
I was accompanying Lady Caroline Cox (Baroness of Queensbury) in Armenia, when i met Sasa, who, at the time, was one of her mentees. He was just graduating medical school. His goal was to bring healthcare and education to his beloved and remote chin state within Burma, and his dedication to that goal captivated me from the first moment we met.
How did you choose the crew on the film?
The crew started out as just me, in Armenia, with a Prosumer canon. When I traveled to India, along the Burmese border, to film the grand opening of Sasa’s health-care training facility, I brought an Indian camera operator, and hired a local camera operator from Mizoram with me. Sasa had also been filming the progress of his jungle camp before my arrival, using handheld camcorders donated to him to document his progress.
Why did you choose to make a film that length?
We made Sasa 7 minutes because of the footage we had from that first shoot, this told the story the best. We’ve since shot several more weeks of footage — which we’re presently compiling into a feature-length doc.
What is the most compelling image in your film?
There are two. 1. The image of the Chin villagers, holding a midnight candle-light vigil for Sasa’s safe return to the jungle health-care training facility with those of us from the West. (it took 25 hours through rain and mud slides on barely existent jungle mountain roads.) 2. The image of a frail, elderly woman, extending a grateful touch on Sasa’s arm as he treats her illness.
Compiled by Marcina Zaccaria