Monday, October 24, 2011

What Do The Shawshank Redemption, A Cemetery in Texas, and Anchorage Have In Common?

Image from All Posters
Brent Scarpo

Brent was the casting director of The Shawshank Redemption (and other movies like That Thing You Do, Air Force One, and Matilda).  Then he decided he wanted to make his own films and work on eradicating hate.

"Journey To A Hate Free Millennium" was, he told me by phone Sunday,  inspired partly by the Shawshank experience, encapsulated in the motto on the Shawshank Redemption poster -

Fear can hold you prisoner, 

Hope can set you free

"To A Hate Free Millennium" looks at three hate crimes in the US:  Columbine High School, Matthew Shepard, and James Byrd.  That's where the cemetery in Texas comes in. 

Picture emailed to me by Brent Scarpo
He told me that when he was there, the caretaker pulled him aside by a line of holes in the lawn and said,

"Here's what you really need to see."

"These holes?"

"Yeah.  These were the post holes of the fence separating the white and black sections of the cemetery.  The dead were still segregated until a couple of days ago.  They didn't want the national media focusing on that when they came here for the memorial."

Brent has taken this so seriously, he dropped out of his successful Hollywood career so that he could concentrate on doing his part to help free people from hate and fear.  He's coming to Anchorage in two weeks.

After speaking to him on the phone yesterday, I can tell you, this guy can talk and he can excite you about the possibilities of making the world better.  While there are seriously depressing topics in his film, his message is how to get past it, how to set yourself and your community free. 

The video below showcases some reactions of teachers, counselors, and students at a school Brent visited.  The video is blurred, but the message is clear.  Watch it!

Disclosure: I'm on the steering committee of Healing Racism in Anchorage, the tiny non-profit that is bringing Brent here, with help from community partners.  But regular readers know, I hope, that I wouldn't post stuff I don't really believe.  And I believe Brent's presentations are going to be special.    You can see more at the Healing Racism Website and Facebook page.  If you're interested in the Tuesday evening workshop - it's limited to 30 folks - you can email me or email Healing Racism in Anchorage for more information or to register.

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