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My Review of “The Citizen” From the Heartland Film Festival

October 29, 2012

One of the films I saw as part of the Heartland Film Festival was “The Citizen”.   Here’s a quick plot outline taken from the film’s Facebook page:

Yearning to leave behind his life of misfortune in the Middle East, Ibrahim Jarrah wins the U.S Green Card Lottery for a chance to become an American citizen. Ibrahim lands in New York City the day before 9/11 …and the events of the September terrorist attacks forever shape the struggles he faces on his journey to capture the American dream.

Inspired by true events, The Citizen stars Khaled Nabawy (Fair Game), Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate), Rizwan Manji (Outsourced), Bill Atherton (Ghostbusters), and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride). Filmmaker Sam Kadi’s feature debut is a gripping tale of courage, love, and perseverance, the qualities of a true CITIZEN.

This film left me in tears. I was so sad because the entire premise of the movie is to frame this man for something he had no relation to whatsoever. The fact that Ibrahim works so hard throughout his time here, and his bright-eyed thoughts about America leave him that way is one of the most awful things about the movie. Simply put, his naivete leaves him more vulnerable than I ever imagined. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time leaves him in court, facing deportation.

How often we judge those we know nothing about, simply out of fear. It is important for national security to be wary, especially in our times, but I found it difficult to side with a country who treats Muslims, Jews, African-Americans and others with such poor regard. How is it any different now than it was during the civil rights movement? Aren’t we judging Muslims just like we judged African-Americans? No, we aren’t making them visit separate movie theaters, grocery stores, and we even let them drink from the same fountain as everyone else, but tell me you haven’t gone into a restaurant and felt mildly uncomfortable with a couple men sitting next to you who worship Allah. Isn’t it all the same God? I know I’ve fallen victim of fear at the airport, and so have you. It must stop. Not everyone is a terrorist.

This movie didn’t open my eyes to something I didn’t already knew, but it did share another story of yet another person left victimized by Americans. It left me crying, upset and feeling foolish. Yet another Truly Moving Picture!

And again, special thanks to the FireBelly crew for allowing me to be a part of the Heartland Film Festival’s social media crew!


My review of “Erasing Hate” From the Heartland Film Festival

October 28, 2012

My first film screening for the Heartland Film Festival was a documentary called “Erasing Hate.” The film centered around a man named Bryon, who escaped the brutal Aryan Nation movement. After contacting the Southern Law Poverty Center, a center dedicated to erasing the Aryan movement, Jon had the gracious opportunity to have his tattoos removed, specifically from his face and hands.

The beginning of the documentary explained how Bryon currently struggles to find a job because of the way he looks. This was very ironic to me considering the movement he found himself so tied into was directly related to caring and mistreating people simply because of the way he looked. At first, he showed reluctance to have them removed, only because they remind him of where he’s been and how he chooses never to return.

He even met his wife at an Aryan event.

The most surprising thing about his wife was how supportive, real, and completely unlike my stereotypical thoughts of a white Aryan woman would be. She loved her children and was a caring wife. The love she exhibited for her husband throughout the film was devastatingly pure.

That being said, how could a mother take her children to Aryan events? How could a loving, doting mother fall into such a horrible situation? I wondered this while they talked about family and their beliefs, how they were raised and how they struggled to find a way out after coming to the real, honest and correct thought that they were in the wrong crowd. How I’ve judged others in those same situations who may have been trying to also find their way out. They only wanted support and I knew the struggle was real when they reached out to the One People’s Project whose leader is a black man.

When Bryon began his treatments at Vanderbilt University, he was treated with respect as a person. The doctor told him to expect only 7-8 treatments, and the worst case scenario could more a year and a half of treatments. Unfortunately, Jon didn’t experience the former, and endured over 25 treatments to remove the tattoos from his face and hands.

The pain he experienced through the entire process was very, very hard to watch. But it had a point that I don’t think could have been made any other way. To doubt this man’s transformation after suffering what he called “having a torch to my face” day after day is impossible. The swelling and pain he experiences after he leaves the offices and travels home is also excruciating to watch. This man chose a year and half of horrifying pain. So painful in fact, that after the first treatment, the doctor was forced to put him under general anesthesia because Jon couldn’t take the pain during the process.

It was definitely a worthwhile film, and left me in tears. Definitely a truly moving picture!  See Bryon’s transformation here.

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

October 16, 2012

I read an article in Marie Claire this past month called FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. Essentially it explains how modern women often feel like they are missing out when friends do things without them. Here’s the summary from Marie Claire’s website:

“Obsessing about the party you skipped, the after-work drinks with colleagues you passed on, the second date you decided not to accept? The latest syndrome plaguing do-it-all women is the nagging fear that everyone else is in on something that they’re not.”

That’s exactly how I feel most of the time. Even more now that I’m a commuter. “Should I have forgone freelance work and putting the kids to bed for that drink?” “Should I have told them I could go instead of being home with my family?” “Should I have gone to that movie instead of sticking with my alone time tonight”. “Should I have gone to that bar for the game rather than watching it at home”?

It’s been especially difficult with the new commute I’ve accepted. I’m out of the house each morning at 7:30am and I arrive at home around 7:30pm or later. I don’t mind the commute so much, but I do mind that it prevents me from having time to do things like run while the sun is still up, or be home for dinner with the kids. I love my job and I love my coworkers. In all honesty, it was comforting to know that I’m not the only woman who feels this way.  I used to think I had no friends (I wasn’t really the most popular person in high school) and my reaction to that would be to always say yes to everything I was ever invited to attend.

I’ve never been able to say no because I’ve always wanted to be well-liked and loved. I took ‘no’ to the extreme in college when I ignored every friend I had to hang out with my abusive boyfriend. Then I started dating someone else, and the vicious cycle continued. After a series of unfortunate events, I did actually lose most of my friends from college. I don’t really talk to any sorority sister I have/had sans the little I love dearly. And even that relationship is a few and far between conversation. I’m truly miserable at conversation. Because I chose to not spend more quality time with them in college, I’ve lost a lot of relationships and struggled to gain them back. I’ve developed this insane fear that if I don’t do everything my friends ask me to do, I’ll be left in the dust with no one to stand next to me. No friends to call when I have a bad day, nothing.

I’ve learned a lot about friendships in the meantime and I’m happy to say that I don’t agree to every drink or event because I’m afraid. I also have very close friends I’m excited to claim and speak to nearly every day. But that doesn’t mean I don’t fight the urge if I do decide to opt out, or that I feel great when they post about said event later on Facebook. That part I’m still working on. The moral here is that you don’t have to do everything your friends want you to. Everyone needs a little alone time.


P.S. Don’t forget to read my posts next week about the Heartland Film Festival!

Heartland Film Festival

October 12, 2012

Over the next few posts in the next two weeks, I’m going to be detailing movies and events I’ve seen and attended from the Heartland Music Festival. I was blessed enough to be considered to join the All-Star Social Media Team with Firebelly Marketing.

Today I got my media credentials! That means I’m ready to see some films, attend some events, and experience some truly wonderful films.

Over the next two weeks, check back often for reviews and write-ups of the events I attend. YAY MOVIES! I knew one day Twitter would pay off! Maybe I’ll meet a movie star….?

So far I’m most excited to see a film about a new American citizen from a Muslim community who comes to America the day after 9/11. The movie, “The Citizenlooks like just the type of dark, conflicting, and heroic films I love.

movies, film, Heartland Film Festival

From the film “Besa: The Promise” Photo from Heartland Music Festival Film Guide

The second movie I’m most excited to see is called “Besa: The Promise.”  This is the never-before told story of Albanian men who helped rescue and save Jews during WWII in Nazi-Occupied Albania. Again, just the type of dark, conflicting, and heroic films I love.

It’s truly been hard to choose which films I want to see so far in the festival. I am truly shocked I was given the privilege to participate in such a worldly, memorable event for two things I love: Twitter and movies. Seems like a no-brainer to me!

See the film guide for the Heartland Film Festival.

Want to know some events Heartland Film Festival is hosting? Check out their schedule of events.

A World of Problem Solvers

September 19, 2012

Throughout my still short-lived career after college, I’ve discovered a problem with my generation that prevents us from succeeding in the corporate world. While this problem doesn’t inflict everyone my age, older or younger, it certainly affects most of the people I meet. It’s called lack of problem solving. It’s rare I meet someone my age who can solve problems without first bringing those problems to someone else first.

I’ve been told I am a great problem solver but I can say it  wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t until I had a boss at my former job who forced me to come to him with solutions rather than my problems that I was forced to sit and really think about the problem, possible solutions and resolutions afterward. After I honed that skill and put it to good use nearly every hour of my work day I became the “great problem solver” I am today. Not everyone has a fire they have to put out at work nearly every hour of the day, but I was blessed with a project management position that overloaded me so much I had no choice but to learn it quick. Literally every hour of my work day was spent putting out some fire here or there. I’ve since learned that not all corporate positions run the same way and that not all project managers are putting out fires all the time. But I don’t think I could survive in the job I have today had it not been for that specific position.

I wouldn’t wish that hell I endured on anyone. I left that job with 40 extra pounds, no boyfriend, no place to live and a complete life of destruction. That, coupled with my horrifying project management position, forced me to pick up my britches and move on with life as quickly as possible.

I understand not everyone can have those eye-awakening moments that put them at rock-bottom before they fully grasp the problem solving skill.

It’s always been my soap-box mantra that children should learn this trait as early as possible. I’m not saying that we should throw our children into the wild as the Spartans did (although I certainly see why that seemed like a great idea) but I do think our society would be much more productive and valuable if we didn’t have a bunch of whiners running around looking at the sky, obviously confused. But maybe, instead of doing everything for our children, we can teach them to do things for themselves. When they ask us questions why not ask them a question in return: “Well, how do you think you should handle this particular situation?” Or “What do you think the best course of action here might be?”

If we force our children through intellect and conversation to examine their problems and talk through possible solutions, I believe they’d be more successful as adults and less likely to be grouped into a particular generation’s misgivings.

The younger we teach our children these lessons, the better and faster they’ll learn to think through possible solutions later in life. How do adults function without this capability?

I’ve noticed, in my experience, that this failure to problem solve most often lies within my own generation and younger. Most of the people I know and interact with on a daily basis who are older have either learned this from life experience or have always known how to problem solve well. I can’t say it’s specifically a Generation-Y issue, but I would hope that as a generation, we’d reverse the trend and start teaching our children how best to manage the world. Capitalism doesn’t wait for others to solve problems for you. We raise our children in a capitalist world but don’t give them the one tool they need the most to succeed.

What kind of world would we live in if everyone could think critically? Moral of the story? The next time your child asks you how to do something, or why something is the way it is, help work through the problem. Slowly remove yourself from the equation as they get older. Unless they’re asking you how to turn on any electronic device over 200 dollars and your children are under the age of six, then you should probably just do it yourself.

My Journey to the iPhone

September 15, 2012

I broke down today (figuratively) and purchased an iPhone. I’ve always wanted one, I’ve talked about buying one, and just wanted to wait patiently until my upgrade to finally buy one. If I’d chosen not to wait, I’d have to purchase it at full retail price, which is crazy.

It’s been especially hard the last few days with the new release of the iPhone5, and because I work in a tech startup it’s been the talk of the week and incredibly difficult to listen to day in and out. It brought on a barrage of tweets about why cell phone companies don’t allow you to sign a new 2-year contract when purchasing a new phone, at the national advertised rate, and just keep you longer. It seemed to make great business sense to me to lock people in as long as possible, even if that meant longer than four years. For me, I was extremely willing to sign a new 2-year contract with Sprint if it meant I didn’t have to use my crappy LG Optimus which only let me have 5 apps. (I know, total first world problem.) But back to the point, I see a monetary gain here, and cell phone companies were completely missing it. Why wouldn’t Sprint want to keep me for 2 and 1/2 years versus just 2?

Since my new job affords me a bit more financial “puffiness” I paid my cell phone bill 15 days early to compensate for the end of the month bills I’d have to pay. While I was on the website to pay, I decided to take a look at the iPhone’s features Sprint was advertising all over the website. While there, a pop-up window appeared and the heavenly words read”

Need a new phone, but not eligible for an upgrade? 

“Why YES, Sprint, I AM!”

Participate in our buy-back program and receive the nationally-advertised rate for any new phone we sell.

“What?! Seriously? This is what I’ve been saying ALL along!!!”

Just make an appointment with your nearest Sprint store and meet with a representative today!

“No, I’m going to the store, RIGHT NOW! NIC LET’S GET IN THE CAR PRONTO!”

I waited patiently in the Jiffy Lube while they changed my oil (and didn’t pester me with things my mechanic will fix, thank you Jiffy Lube) while I attempted to play with the phone I hate so much. I was patient. As soon as my car was ready, I hopped in like a crazed addict to the Sprint store, where I proudly announced, frantically, to the service representative that I’d read it was possible to upgrade early if I participated in the recycle program and paid an additional $100. The total cost, from my calculations, was the same as purchasing an iPhone when eligible for my original upgrade in April.

“Yes, that’s exactly the idea, let’s see if your eligible”.

MAGIC WORDS Miss Service Representative. Yes, let’s see if I’m eligible.

She took me to her station and carefully looked up all my information and that’s when the heavens opened up and she announced, “Why yes, you are eligible for the program, and trust me, I used to have that phone, I know how bad you’d like to upgrade.”


She grabbed the iPhone of my choice, (they didn’t have white, but hey, black is better) and came out of the warehouse in back. She had halos and angel dust following her as she came back to the station to check me out.

The total was exactly as I expected, and I left, with magic and glory in my eyes.

I have been playing with my new iPhone all evening, downloading apps and looking at cases. I am in love. (Sorry Nic, I do in fact love you more.)

Sigh! YAY! My phone problems are no more friends. No more. It’s glorious. And I am happy.

The moral of the story? Yes, sometimes material things can bring happiness. But only sometimes. Nic is better.

My New Job

September 3, 2012

It’s only been three weeks into my new job, and I can already tell how in love I am with it. I was very nervous to start something over – being that I’ve been with the same company for three years and I haven’t known anything different. It was my first job, and my first time giving “two weeks.” I came from the land of “Finish your shifts.”

The best part of switching jobs has to be the shortened commute. I dropped 40 minutes just by working on the southside of downtown. That’s the other part I love most about the new gig, it’s in an urban area. I feel little like Mary Tyler Moore as she’s throwing her hat into the air. (I stole that metaphor from a friend.) It’s just… nice to be a stones throw from coffee, a nice diner, or a happy hour choice.  It’s even more fun to be in the middle of it all. In my first week there was a concert at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, which is next door to my office, and the next it was the Women of Faith Conference. It’s so much fun to be so close to it all.

The next best part about working downtown is how close I’ve become with some old friends. Luckily, my very good friend Jessie switched jobs right before I did, and so moving became something I was experiencing with someone else, too. It was a great comfort knowing I wasn’t going through this new job alone. I also, then, had the chance to meet with some friends I formerly couldn’t. It’s been great getting to know some people more than I had before.

I’ve had my struggles already, but nothing I can’t handle. My problem-solving skills are coming in handy.

I’m finally getting back into the groove. I’ve had to nearly reorganize my entire day to make room for things I did all the time anyway. It’s been hard trying to manage everything differently, but I’m doing it. It’s certainly a change for the better!