Compassionate Cinema: Q&A with Filmmaker Holly Mosher

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These days, green is the way to go. People are growing more aware of the importance of preservation of the Earth. We can buy hybrid cars, vegan clothing, and organic food. And in that spirit, Dorit Dyke founded the Green Lifestyle Film Festival in Los Angeles three years ago.

This festival screens some of the most provocative and renewing documentaries of the past few years, the environment being their common theme. I checked out this year�s event, which took place March 13th through March 15th at UCLA�s James Bridges Theater.

Outside the theater were booths with organic food, smoothies, and clothing. I bought a delicious banana/cane juice smoothie and rushed inside to catch a few flicks. In hours that followed, I got some of the best lessons, lessons I never got at school. I learned about how eating meat not only affects your own health, but also the health of the environment. I also learned about biodynamic farming in India, cancer, diabetes, and human rights.

One of the absolute highlights for me was watching Hummingbird, an award-winning film directed by Holly Mosher. Hummingbird is about two shelters in Brazil: the House of Passage and the Women�s Life Collective. The shelter founders take kids and women off the streets and help them take steps toward a brighter future.

During the week that followed the festival, I spoke with Mosher about her award-winning film:

Q: How did you get the idea to make Hummingbird?

A: In 1997, when I was living in Brazil, I met Adriana, a girl who ran away from home at the age of 6 and had a daughter at the age of 11. She took me under her wing and showed me everything the House of Passage�s program had to offer. Back home, I just couldn�t get her out of my head, so I went back to Brazil a few years later. It took me about a month to find her again because she had left the program to stand on her own feet.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you�ve learned from making this film?

A: I learned to say no at some point. Some people want to give too much. You have to learn to take a break for yourself. In our society we are forced to be productive all the time, but we need rest. I also learned how important it is for these people to get affection. During the group therapy sessions they hug, they kiss, they stand in circles so no one feels excluded. In our society, we just put a pill in the kid�s mouth and hope everything will be better. But these children just want to be heard.

Q: A lot of kids only stay in the shelter for one night before running off again. Is it useful to have a place like this?

A: A lot of kids come and go. Adriana ran away plenty of times before she finally decided to stay. When the kids stay at the shelter, they are bound by certain rules. They have to take showers, they have to go to bed on time. It takes them a while to appreciate those limits. But it is good for these kids to know they have a place where they can sleep, play and talk if they ever need it.

Q:Hummingbird has won a lot of prizes. How important is this to you?

A: It is wonderful to get so much recognition. It makes you realize that people do care about this problem. But for me, the most rewarding thing is to see the movie with an audience and hear their reactions.

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: Right now I am making a documentary about Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank. He created a microcredit bank in Bangladesh and he started out with nothing. When I heard about his story, I said to myself, this is going to be my next film. I like telling stories about people who make a difference in the world. These are stories that inspire change.

Q: How do you try to change the world?

A: Everyone has their own strength. When I came back from Brazil, I was thinking of opening up my own shelter there. But then I realized that my role in this world is to be a voice, to unveil stories that aren�t talked about enough. Film is a moving piece of art that gets your message across to the public.

To watch a trailer and get more information about Hummingbird, visit

�Hille Peeters, Editorial Intern

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