BEAUTIFUL TREE, SEVERED ROOTS
A Film By Kenny Mann
DVD 70 mns. In Post-Production
On one level, this film is about my parent's extraordinary lives and achievements in Africa as Jewish refugee immigrants to Kenya during World War II. On another level, it is about being the daughter of such parents, living multiple lives as a white person in an African country, an Eastern European in a British Colony; and a Jew who didn't know how to be Jewish. On a universal level, it is about identity, place, displacement, loss, remembering, forgetting, documenting, assimilating, not assimilating. It is about the concept of home, and the idea of self, and the many selves that could have been mine. It is about roots, seeds and branches.
So ask me who I am and I will say that I feel only the breath of the unborn and the whispers of our ancestors around me. I am not in Africa, but I am of Africa. I am not in Rumania or Poland, but I am of those nations. I am in America, but I am not of America. I am Jewish, but I am not Jewish. I don't know if any of this matters. I am formed, and unformed. I am here.
Photo: Pamela Greinke
Photo: Pamela Greinke
On Sunday, December 4, I launched a major fund-raising campaign for BEAUTIFUL TREE, SEVERED ROOTS. I invited the public to attend a screening of the work-in-progress, which consisted of 40 minutes of edited clips of the film interspersed with me reading "spoken word" segments to fill in the gaps. It was a huge success! People loved the film and apparently, it inspired many discussions around dinner tables that night about identity, roots, and similar issues.
In the teaser for the film above, you will learn that my earliest years were spent on Maasai land at Athi River, in Kenya, where my father had a cattle ranch. My earliest connections to Africans were to the Maasai, who herded our cattle with theirs. Although we shared the same land, we never spoke the same language in those days and a vast distance separated us. But today, I understand how deeply influenced I was by their mere presence in my life. For this reason, I invited some Maasai friends from Washington, D.C. to attend the screening, perform some of their traditional dances and participate in the discussion on identity that followed. That, too, was an eye-opening addition to my own thoughts on identity, and eventually, some of these ideas may be incorporated in the finished film.
The fund-raising campaign brought in enough money for another five full days of editing. next, I am traveling back to Kenya in February to finish shooting there, and then to Israel and Poland to capture needed footage in those countries. The fund-raising campaign continues on kickstarter and rockethub, through individuals, friends and organizations.
Watch this page for the latest news on this project!