SPECIAL EVENTS


UK FILM PREMIERE: THE WELCOME. A powerful, soulful documentary film about combat veterans coming home.

TUESDAY 5 JULY 2011, 7pm

The Nave, St. Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, 78 Bishopsgate, City of London EC2N 4AG

The Welcome - a documentary film about combat veterans coming home

The Welcome offers a fiercely intimate view of life after war: the fear, anger and isolation of post-traumatic stress that affects veterans and family members alike. As we join them in a small room for an unusual five day healing retreat, we witness how the ruins of war can be transformed into the beauty of poetry. Here our perceptions are changed, our psyches strained, and our hearts broken. And at the end, when this poetry is shared with a large civilian audience, we begin to understand that all of us are a vital piece of the Welcome, as Veterans try to find the way back home. Their examples of unflinching honesty, courage and love lift us up, inspiring all of us once again to feel our common humanity, so often the first casualty of war.

The Story of The Welcome: (read more)

"You put twenty four veterans with PTSD in a room together, I think we're doing pretty good. We're not killing each other", said Bob Eaton, one of the veterans gathered for an unusual healing retreat over the Memorial Day weekend. He and the others, men and women veterans of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, along with several wives, partners and parents, went out on a limb and arrived at a remote retreat center in the deep woods of S. Oregon to attempt a different kind of healing in the aftermath of war. They would spend the next five days together, story telling, listening, arguing, struggling with the pain and fear of their injuries and Post Traumatic Stress, and doing their best to work with a novel approach to their post war traumas using traditional stories, cleansing rituals, song and the writing of their own poetry. Making things even more challenging, the event would culminate on Memorial Day back in town in a large theater in front of, potentially, over 600 civilians.

Will this approach work for them? Can they survive their own group conflicts and painful memories? Will they put words to paper, and then actually deliver them on stage to hundreds of strangers? Perhaps the ultimate question, will the community even care enough to show up?

The Welcome documents this intense five day experience, taking the viewer into the small confines of one room to join with these men and women as they take an unusual route to find the way back home again. It is not an easy journey. The audience is dropped into a cauldron of conflict, memory and delicate forgiveness.

Using a two camera crew, shot verite style, the audience becomes a part of the drama as it unfolds. Michael Meade, mythologist, story teller and facilitator of the event is one of the characters. His mesmerizing stories about traditional cultures healing their war veterans and his willingness to encourage the vets to explore the darkness of their own fears, memories and dreams slowly results in a poetic truth-telling which invites the viewer in and enables the audience to understand the veteran's world and their searing pain, as well as their long buried hope.

Over the course of the film, we make a surprisingly personal connection with the veterans. Sharing their tears, laughter, hurt and rage, we recognize in them not only our friends and neighbours, but ourselves. Our perceptions are changed, our psyches strained, and our hearts broken. Yet, their examples of unflinching honesty, courage and love, lift us up. In the end, we are ALL welcomed home after a disorienting journey, returning again to our common humanity.




'Finding Peace in a World Conditioned to Violence' A PUBLIC TALK BY CLAUDE ANSHIN THOMAS

FRIDAY 22 JULY 2011, 7pm

The Nave, St. Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, 78 Bishopsgate, City of London EC2N 4AG

Finding Peace in a World Conditioned to Violence' A PUBLIC TALK BY CLAUDE ANSHIN THOMAS

Claude AnShin Thomas, A Zen Buddhist Monk, Vietnam Veteran, Author and Advocate of Non-Violence, will visit London and talk with us, sharing the wisdom gained through his own life experience: a difficult, courageous and inspiring journey from combat as a young soldier in the Vietnam War, to spiritual practice as a Buddhist, training with the Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and later receiving ordination in the Japanese Soto Zen Tradition. There will also be time set aside to ask questions.

Claude AnShin Thomas is the author of the relentlessly courageous and compassionate book 'AT HELL'S GATE: A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace', and the founder of the Zaltho Foundation, a non-profit organisation that promotes peace and non-violence.

(see also vimeo.com/4050704)

Light refreshments will be provided.

Entrance fee to cover organizational expenses: ?5 working, concessions ?1 + voluntary donation to support Claude AnShin Thomas' work.

No one will be turned away due to the lack of funds.

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