JOHNSON CITY (October 3, 2012) – The Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at East Tennessee State University will present the award-winning documentary “An Encounter with Simone Weil” on Monday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium.
Julia Haslett, who is the film’s director, producer and editor, will lead a discussion and question-answer session following the screening, which is part of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers.
The screening and reception are free and open to the public.
Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus described Weil as “the only great spirit of our time.” She was an advocate for the poor and unemployed. Her own struggles with suffering – her father committed suicide and her brother battles severe depression – are interwoven with Weil’s story about living life with compassion.
“I very much identify with and admire Weil’s commitment to understanding what it is to be human and what it takes to live a life of compassion,” Haslett said in an interview with writer Peter Menkin. “Her commitment to that is inspiring to me. I think another big element for me is her intellectual questioning and her refusal to accept the status quo or orthodoxies of any kind. She put such a high value on interrogating the norm. I share these values.”
Haslett’s documentary ﬁlms include the acclaimed “Worlds Apart” series, “Hold Your Breath” (PBS, 2007) and four award-winning shorts. She has worked at WGBH-Boston and as a filmmaker-in-residence at Stanford University’s Center for Biomedical Ethics, as well as being a 2009 Independent Filmmaker Project Documentary Lab Fellow and a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow.
During the 2011 Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan, filmmaker Michael Moore gave Haslett’s debut feature film the Special Founders Prize.
“Julia Haslett has made a profound and moving film about a woman who continues to speak to all of us,” Moore said. “Few Americans know of Simone Weil, but this deeply affecting documentary will make you want to know more. ‘An Encounter with Simone Weil’ challenges all of us not to look the other way when we see the suffering of others. Julia’s personal journey through the film is both heartbreaking and inspiring.”
New York magazine called the documentary an “intensely personal and touching film.”
“Weil’s life is an important example of a lifelong commitment to compassion for the suffering of others,” said Anita DeAngelis, director of the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts. “She was altruistic and passionate about improving social conditions for the disadvantaged. She was a philosopher, social and political activist, teacher and mystic. Haslett’s film provides us with insights into Weil’s complicated but short life while still drawing many parallels to conditions today.”
The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org.
The website for “An Encounter with Simone Weil” is http://www.linestreet.net and the trailer can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOCE_d2R5lw. For information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts or the film series, call (423) 439-TKTS (8587) or visit www.etsu.edu/cas/arts/ or www.Facebook.com/ETSU.MBMSOTA.