My Films

Friday, December 26, 2008

Up sleeve number one (as promised in my previous entry)

As this message posts, I will be onboard a plane to Sydney, Australia. I'm headed there to do a freelance video report for Associated Press. The topic of the five minute video for AP's Horizons programming is on the current Peace Boat voyage in which 102 atomic bomb survivors share their anti-nuclear testimonies as they travel around the world. What an incredible journey they must be having as they connect with locals in 20 plus countries. It's a story that is much needed to be documented and shared with as many people as possible--as for some of the hibakusha this may be their last chance to share their story.

I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Nervous about my continual push to challenge myself as a storyteller, to meet AP standards, and to handle all the technical aspects of this shoot. Excited to be going to Australia (a first for me!), to meet with the Hibakusha and tell their story as best as I can. I hope that this will be first of many experiences like this in my lifetime. Wish me luck and see you back in Tokyo on the 8th!

(photo credit: Peace Boat)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Goodbye Providence, Hello Japan for now

My time in Providence is coming to an end. I haven't been as active blogging or involved in local peace activities as I would have liked but my life here has seemed to have taken its own course. As my first foray into doing more commercial work, I have to say that I have enjoyed it immensely. I don't know when I turned away from looking (or if I ever considered) working in the narrative storytelling side of this industry but the four months on this job has given me a greater appreciation for the talent, artistry and care that goes into producing what some might consider "fluff."

When I haven't been jaunting off to New York on the weekends, I've been traveling to New Hampshire. Swing-state New Hampshire that chose John McCain over GW Bush in the 2000 primaries. The New Hampshire that preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008 primaries. My friends and I have knocked on hundreds of doors, talking to locals about a much needed change in the white house, in America and in the world. And while it was my nerves that kept me up on the night of the 3rd, it was excitement of all the possibilities that kept me up on the 4th. I cannot express with enough eloquence what I believe Obama means to history and to what we all know is possible in our hearts for a better world. I also know that while he can be a great catalyst, he cannot single-handedly change the world. Each and everyone of us, regardless of our citizenship, has a chance to participate in fulfilling our true potential. I look forward to what the next eight years bring.

So I have a few things up my sleeves as I jump on a plane back to Japan. For several of them, it's still too early to post here (and I'm very excited for when I do) but I can share that my short film Peace Begins with Me and You will be at the Artivist film festival in Tokyo, Japan on Dec 12th. Here's the event link of FB. More details to come but here's a good start:

Artivist Film Festival Tokyo ・ アーティビスト映画祭 in 東京

Japanese premieres of 13 amazing short and feature films from around the world.

Friday, Dec. 12th at 7 P.M.
Saturday, Dec. 13th at 7 P.M.
Sunday, Dec. 14th All Day - 11 A.M. to 9 P.M.


Detailed programming schedule to come.

Admission is FREE! Arrive early for good seats.

"ARTIVIST" is the only international Film Festival dedicated to raising awareness for the interdependence between Humanity, Animals, and the Environment. Since 2004, Artivist has screened more than 300 international films and has reached more than 25 Million People with its Public Relations Campaigns. Merging Art & Advocacy for Global Consciousness is our Mission. Artivist is a Charitable Organization endorsed by the UNITED NATIONS and the International NOBEL PRIZE.

「アーティビスト国際映画祭」は、人権・子供の 権利・動物の権利・環境保護への社会意識を高めることを目的とした初の映画祭で、今年で5周年をむかえます。2004年より通算2500万人以上に300 本以上の映画を紹介してきました。本映画祭の使命は、地球規模の問題への社会意識を高める一方で、国際的に活躍するアーティスト兼活動家(アクティビス ト)=「アーティビスト」達の声を高めることです。アーティビストは、国連とノーベル平和賞からも支持を得る非営利団体です。

This year's films making Japanese premieres include:

One Water
They Turned Our Desert Into Water
Zeitgeist Addendum
Stolen Childhoods
Tibet: Beyond Fear
& many more



Thursday, October 02, 2008

Poem by Hafiz

My mother recently forwarded me this poem by Hafiz. I feel this poem encapsulates what I feel is true for my own life.

I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our

I have come into this world to see this: all creatures hold hands as
we pass through this miraculous existence we share on the way
to even a greater being of soul,
a being of just ecstatic light, forever entwined and at play
with Him.

I have come into this world to hear this:
every song the earth has sung since it was conceived in
the Divine's womb and began spinning from
His wish,

every song by wing and fin and hoof,
every song by hill and field and tree and woman and child,
every song of stream and rock,

every song of tool and lyre and flute,
every song of gold and emerald
and fire,

every song the heart should cry with magnificent dignity
to know itself as
for all other knowledge will leave us again in want and aching -
only imbibing the glorious Sun
will complete us.

I have come into this world to experience this:
men so true to love
they would rather die before speaking
an unkind
men so true their lives are His covenant -
the promise of

I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands
even at the height of
their arc of
because we have finally realized
there is just one flesh
we can wound.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NYC: Barefoot Workshop Event on Sun 28th.

Back when I was exploring different organizations to write my thesis on, I came across Barefoot Workshops which trains  video production skills to youth and women in developing countries. This upcoming Sunday, the 28th, BW will be holding a seminar at B & H. 

I'm going do my best to make and hopefully will be writing a follow report.  love, M


Sunday, September 28, 2008
B & H Photo
34th & 9th Ave
Media Empowerment & The Developing World Presented by Barefoot Workshops
Speaker: Chandler Griffin
Event Type: Video
Time: 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Barefoot Workshops is a New York City and Los Angeles based not-for-profit, founded by Chandler Griffin in 2004, that offers short, intensive workshops around the world in narrative and documentary filmmaking. In this two-hour session, Chandler Griffin will provide an overview of Barefoot’s role in using media in the developing world to help Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental & Governmental Organizations, and individuals make change where it is needed the most. Chandler will discuss the media tools and formats used on the ground, how to conceptualize a workshop and ways to get involved. The goal of this session is to demystify the “how can I do this?” and give individuals a chance to learn how Barefoot Workshops does it, ask all the questions and get involved. You will learn that through Barefoot’s international workshops, they offer field placements for international students to assist organizations on the ground with media projects that help them to address challenges in their communities. These “hybrid” workshops result in dynamic learning environments, and open the way for international students to gain valuable field experience, and to learn about issues firsthand. If you are interested in discovering how you can change the world through the power of digital media, come find out how Barefoot can train anyone from vastly different backgrounds and skill levels, how to blend the technical and artistic aspects of storytelling, beginning with the basics of image-making all the way through to post-production to create a “symphony” of images and sound. Barefoot Workshops hopes that by sharing “how they do it”, they will mobilize individuals to get involved and help make a difference with media.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Waterfire and the Providence SDS

Last Saturday on the way home from watching Iron Man at the $2 theater, we drove through Providence's acclaimed summer weekend activity: Waterfire.
Waterfire, created by Barnaby Evans, lines Providence's rivers with bonfire sculptures that are lit as a symbol of its renaissance. Held every other weekend, the event brings out tourists and locals alike to enjoy a summer evening downtown.
While we were walking through the city streets looking for somewhere to eat, we met with 20 or so people dancing in the middle of Kennedy Plaza. From a distance, it looked as if a impromptu rave was taking place, but on second glance they were dancing to a homemade speaker sitting in a shopping cart while holding up protest signs. A dancer approached me and handed me a flyer: "Tonight's Waterfire is brought to you by Textron:Your neighborhood Cluster Bomb Manufacturer." It turns out, Textron's headquarters are located a block away from Kennedy Plaza.
The dancers were from the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) which has been active in the Providence area since the summer of 2007. Sadly, my phone ran out batteries so I wasn't able to get a picture of them but it surely warmed my heart to see a youth peace movement in action. Having just come from seeing Iron Man, where a pre-transformed Tony Stark naively believes his multi-billion dollar weapons manufacturing company only equips the "good guys," the "Funk the War" dance protest very clearly brought home that weapons manufacturing is not just an issue for the big screen but an every-day reality for even the people of Providence.

photo credit: hlkljgk

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm boycotting Victory Day

Today is Victory Day in the state of Rhode Island. It is a state holiday and many Rhode Islanders have the day off. Why you may ask? to celebrate their victory over Japan 63 years ago. I just learned about this holiday a week ago and I'm none too please to hear that RI is the only state left in the US that celebrates this day. The last state to remove this holiday was Arkansas back in 1975. For as liberal a state as RI supposedly is, any attempts to remove this holiday has been met with strong reactions from WWII veterans. Even attempts to change the name to World Peace Day (which I would still have a huge problem with), Remembrance Day( much better) or RI Veterans Day have been met with opposition.
While I know that August 15th is a controversial date for many around the world, choosing to celebrate it as a victory over another country is what I have a problem with. Korea commemorates this day as their liberation day- this is understandable to me. People have a right to celebrate their liberation, their freedom from oppression. However, to glorify the defeat of another country, especially to glorify a day that came just a few days after one of the greatest crime against humanity- the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki-- must be questioned.
Of course, the average Rhode Islander most likely is just enjoying the day off from work and doesn't think twice about the meaning behind the day. Well, at least its cold and gloomy today, so people can't enjoy it that much. Hrmph!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Peace happs in Providence

(photo: jk5854)

What can I say? I'm a event junkie. A peace event junkie that's for sure. I've in Providence for all of a week and half and I have already found events to attend and communities to participate in.

First off tomorrow, Wednesday August 6th, is a forum on Iran put on by the Rhode Island Mobilization Committee to Stop War and Occupation (no website available). The event will feature Dr. Jo-Anne Hart, Dr. Kaveh Afrasibi and Abas Maliki to discuss not only the history and politics of the region but the possible consequences of any attack on Iran. To find out more about this event click here.

The Global Media Project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies- this initiative was started to explore the significance of media on international issues. They offer a class called "Global Media in War and Peace: History, Theory and Production". And it's not all academic, they also produce "documentary media for human rights, cultural understanding, sustainable development, and global security."No mention yet on their website as to when the class is in the Fall. Wonder if I can snag a guest lecture spot like I did at Temple University last month...

Okay that's all for now. xoxo

Friday, July 25, 2008

July: Personal Update

Oh what a month July has been. I remember graduating from undergrad some six years ago, ready to start working in the real world and living the grown-up life. It took me a whole two months that summer before I landed a job. In hind-sight, two months seems like such an insignificant amount of time in waiting to start one's career, but I remember those two months to be excruciatingly painful from my 22year-old perspective.
Now here I am, graduated from graduate school, and I have arrived in that same space of uncertainty. Luckily, as it's my second time around, I'm a little less panicked, a little more trusting that my experiences and polished skills have only made me more employable and that it is just a matter of time. Yet every now and then, a goblin called impatience climbs on my back and annoys the hell out of me. I swat him off, and he disappears for a few days or even a week at time and I enjoy the present moment. However, recently he has been making more frequent calls.

So many things have fallen away and come to be in the past months since I turned in my thesis. The Power of Peace forum to be held at the University of Waterloo has been canceled. My proposal to make a film about the Rotary Peace Fellow's Applied Field Experience this summer was dropped. While obviously, this is something to be sad about, I'm taking things in stride and trusting that there is something more waiting for me.
I have been keeping myself busy. One aspect of my career that I really want to grow is to start a production company that produces videos for non-profit and non-governmental orgs. I am in the process of building a website for this, but I fret a lot over what exactly I want to say. I know this won't be a money making business, but I see it as a much needed service. How can I use my video skills to help organizations make a difference, communicate better, create awareness, promote their cause? by producing videos for them.
So for the past month I have been making two videos. One for the Institute of Culture Affairs Japan and their upcoming conference in November. The other project is for my friend Emilie and her org Parties 4 Peace. While there's still work to do on the video, here's the first cut of what I have assembled.

Now on to my next step. I have been offered a four month gig on a national cable tv drama in the US starting next week. Yes, nothing to do with peace or documentaries but it is something to get my started back into the industry. It's also paying! After the past two years of what seems like a million volunteer jobs, it will be nice to see the dollar amount in my bank account increase instead of its opposite.
But most importantly this is what I have learnt over the past two years: that there is yet so much I have to learn. If I really want to make a difference, if I really want my media to have an impact, create awareness, and reach as many people as possible then I have a lot of work to do. I have for the past several years focused on improving my production value- working as a one woman production team. Each production, I feel I have produced better and better videos, learning from my mistakes and pushing my boundaries. However, production is only half of the equation of using media for impact. Without distribution, without connections, if the video is only seen by a few hundred or thousands of people (and most likely many of those who are already in the "choir") I have not done enough, I have not really been of service. There is so much professional experience and contacts that I need to make in the industry. So much groundwork to lay down, but I know that I am capable of doing it. I also am more committed than ever.
Some how over the years I have turned my nose up at mainstream media (maybe this was a result of not getting hired at a major network straight out of college.) I realize now that this is foolish. These issues, these causes, these solutions must reach level of mainstream media to have the impact, that's at least what I want to see happen. And so here begins the next leg of my journey: straddling the path between the alternative issues and mainstream outlets. I don't know exactly what it will look like, but don't worry, I won't get lost.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

DOP's first republican co-sponsor

The Department of Peace campaign- which got me started on my peace a career- has just had a major success!

Maryland's Congressional District 1 succeed in getting the support of Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, a Republican cosponsor! This is huge for the DOP campaign!

Since beginning in 2003, the DOP has had growing support from congress members in the house as well as supportive voices in the senate, but to date all of them have been democrats.

Having been involved in this campaign since its inception, one argument I've often heard is that unless we have a republican cosponsor this bill HR 808 ain't going no where. So, congrats to all the volunteers and staff of the Peace Alliance for making this happen.

This is the first step to many more republican cosponsors!

To read more click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Freeze to prevent a war?

By now many of us have seen the Grand Central Freeze put on by Improv Everywhere in New York City. If you haven't yet check the video below:

We have even gotten around to doing a freeze in Tokyo:

So now United for Peace and Justice, a New York based peace organization, is taking this same tactic to say no to a potential war with Iran. One of my favorite things about protests and demonstrations is the creative expressions people come up with to get their messages across. If the traditional march no longer has the impact that it once did, alternative thought-provoking and visually-grabbing approaches must be explored.

I'm thoroughly curious to see how this Freeze will go over and if other any other remarks other than the t-shirts will state their message against the war. Looking forward to seeing the video.

If you are in New York and want to participate here are the details:

FREEZE in Grand Central Terminal
Calling for No War on Iran



150 people have signed up so far! We would love to bring that up to at least 200! Let us know you are coming (or you can also just show up).

Join us to say "No Attack on Iraq!" The American public needs to know that there are many voices calling for real diplomacy and negotiations with Iran. Former Ambassador to the UN, Thomas Pickering, among others, supports talks with Iran without preconditions. We also need to put a human face on the people of Iran - teachers, school children, mothers, doctors, farmers, engineers, artists. These are the people of Iran whose lives would be at risk if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran.

We will have "Peace with Iran" t-shirts for $15 and signs that you can pin to your shirts. At 5:30, we will enter the terminal, mill about and then all freeze at 5:40 for 5 minutes. We march, we lobby, we call our congresspeople, we vigil, we commit acts of civil disobedience. This is another creative, simple, visual action that will get the message out to thousands of commuters. We hope you can join us.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

PBWMY accepted to the International Museum of Women

Yay! just got the news this morning. My short film, which I have endlessly plugged on this blog, Peace Begins with Me and You is now part of the International Museum of Womens' July exhibit which ties Religion, Spirituality and Politics together. Have a take a look at my film here. The exhibit provides a platform for conversation to talk about important world issues, so check my film out, check out other films/art and leave comments!

I particularly like my highlighted quote: "Practicing Buddhism and Hinduism, I discovered that meditation and mindfulness are the seeds of inner-peace. Grounded in my spirituality, I started volunteering, holding my elected officials accountable and raising my voice in protest. I have come to believe that women, empowered and supported by their spirituality, can bring about remarkable change."

This is what they wrote about me in their summary of the exhibit:
"Japanese-American peace activist Megumi Nishikura began a spiritual journey that led her to the path of political action. Her short film, Peace Begins with Me and You combines documentary, animation and personal narrative into a message to all women."

Wow, better than I could ever say it!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New York: 2008 HMF International Film/Media Festival & Conference

Hey looks like a great conference and festival that I full intend on attending and presenting at!
2008 HMF International Film/Media Festival & Conference

10 to 14 December 2008
New York City, United States


The 2008 Festival & Conference will act as a conduit through
which media (web, print, television, and photojournalism),
narrative and documentary film, NGO's, and international policy
may meet to discuss issues of humanitarian importance.

The deadline for abstracts/proposals is 01 August 2008.


Call for Papers for the 2008 HMF International Film/Media
Festival & Conference

The 2008 HMF International Film/Media Conference will be
taking place concurrently with the 2008 HMF International Film
and the associated 2008 HMF International Art/Photo

The 2008 HMF International Film/Media Conference will be an
integral part of the overall Festival & Conference, and will
include Panels, Conference Papers, Debates, and Discussions
relevant to the Media's Role in issues of international
humanitarian importance.

Issues which the Conference will cover:

1) The media's role in humanitarian histories, events, issues and
crises – past and present - in the context of examples of such
coverage, including as a lesson for what should – or in certain
select cases - should not be done;

2) The role that the media has played and perhaps should play in
the work of the UN, NGO's and other agencies who help to
support populations in need and are affected by certain issues
or crises;

3) The future role of the media with the advent of new
technologies, the possibilities inherent in the web, among other
means of information and media dissemination, and how these
new possibilities can be utilized by those seeking to bring
further attention to the public sphere regarding issues of
humanitarian importance;

4) The role of the artistic media (film, art, photogrpahy, music)
in revealing the nuances of issues of humanitarian importance
and the significance of "celebrity" involvement in such media
and issues of humanitarian importance;

5) The role of print, television, web, and photojournalism and its
importance in the humanitarian sphere – including issues of the
bias of coverage, the preeminence or lack of coverage, the role
journalists do or should play, and the responsibilities of
journalism in humanitarian crises even despite the profit motive
of for-profit corporate parents, such as in the United States, of
news agencies, networks, newspapers, magazines, etc.
Other subjects are welcome, provided they merge the idea of
the media—in any form—and issues and subject matter of
humanitarian importance.


A special section, which also may be chosen, will be called
"Never Again" : The Media's Role in Past, Present, and Future
Humanitarian Crises with a Focus on Genocide. This will also
take place concurrently with a focused Sidebar series during the
Film Festival portion of the 2008 HMF International Festival &

For further information, please contact us at


Abstract Deadline: August 1, 2008;
Submit to

Submit a 200-word abstract. Early submissions are greatly
appreciated. All submissions must be in Acrobat PDF format.

Please include the following information on the first page of the

1. Name(s) of author(s)
2. Address / Phone number
3. E-mail address
4. Institution or Organization
5. Title of Abstract/Paper

By submitting an abstract, and subsequently a paper for the
Conference, you are agreeing that all submitted ideas and work
are your own, and materials which may be used, if not in the
public domain or are under permissable purpose allowances,
shall have all necessary clearances provided to the HMF prior to
the Paper being presented.

The HMF may disqualify any paper from presentation or
publication for any reason, at its sole descretion. At no time will
the HMF be held liable for any difficulties presented by the
authorship, subject(s), and presentation of the Paper at the

The author(s), by virtue of submitting his/her abstract(s) and
paper(s), agree that he/she will be solely responsible for the
content of such abstract(s) and paper(s), the substance involved,
and all necessary references necessary for the content

You will receive an email containing an acceptance or rejection
letter by August 31, 2008. The letter will contain a submission
number that you should include in all further correspondences.
Directions will be provided for submitting your paper to the
conference proceedings and for award consideration along with
your acceptance letter.


The HMF provides the academic community with an opportunity
to share their research, ideas, and discuss administrative issues.
it also offers a great opportunity for networking and placement.

- To publish an abstract of your paper in our refereed
conference proceedings online (via and associated HMF

- To present your research at an international conference;

- To receive feedback on your research;

- To compete for the Conference Award;

- To have your paper considered for publication in a peer
reviewed journal, or in book form, with all presented papers
being eligible for publication in a book of conference papers via
the Humanitarian Media Foundation (HMF) and its partner
publishing house;

- To network with potential employers and employees.


We would warmly welcome you sharing this Call for Papers, and
otherwise the Call for Entries in film (beginning June 25, 2008),
or the Call for Entries in Art/Photography (began May 25, 2008)
with your colleagues.

Further information on each may be found at

To subscribe to our mailing list, please send an email to with “Subscribe” in the subject
header, or sign up via the form on the HMF home page.


- Call for Papers begins June 16, 2008
- Deadline for Abstracts: August 1, 2008
- Deadline for Accepted Papers, with any A/V requirements:
November 1, 2008
- Deadline for all Conference sign-ups: December 1, 2008
- Event dates December 10-14, 2008


Deadline: December 1, 2008
Conference registration is US$420
(early registration is $350) with the
authors of accepted papers
not being required to submit a fee. The registration fee for full-
time students is $295 (documentation of full-time student
status is required, sent via .pdf to

Conference fees may be paid via secured server via this link:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer plans 2008

Is it possible? Have I completed a 100 page thesis on media and peace? Have I defended my thesis in front a panel of professors? Am I graduating with an MA in peace and conflict studies at the end of June? Is my Rotary World Peace Fellowship coming to an end?

What's next, what's on the horizon, what are you plans? you ask.

Here are some concrete and not so concrete plans for the summer of 2008:

June 7th- Annual Seminar
Each year at the beginning of June, the graduating class of Rotary World Peace Fellows at ICU presents their research over the past two years to the Rotarians. What's exciting about this is 1) for many moons we fellows have all respectively locked ourselves to our computers and have not seen the light of day, so it will be nice to all be together again. 2) While all of us are in the business of peace our interests are far and wide, so I am looking forward to hearing the details of our various research.

June 25- Refusenik, the documentary film I worked on while living in LA, will be making its Japan premier at Refugee Film Festival. I will be speaking at the Q & A after the screening.

June 30th- graduation. I didn't go to my undergraduate and I'm not so keen on making it to my graduate graduation... I don't know why I get so anti- about these sorts of things... My mom still feels guilty about not going to my undergrad, so I may be posting photos from it a month from now.

Month of July- It is still unconfirmed but I am tentatively shooting footage for Rotary International over the summer. The footage will show Rotary World Peace Fellows in action in Geneva, Israel and East Timor. If this happens, this will be an exciting opportunity to further challenge myself as a filmmaker. I never really thought of myself as a camera woman before last year, but I am quickly falling in love with trying to capture the best image possible. Last year, Rotary sent me to Cambodia to film the Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Field Study Trip to Cambodia.

August- I intend on attending the Power of Peace Network forum at the University of Waterloo this summer. I blogged about it here.

Regardless if the two last points happen, this summer I plan to keep myself busy by working on my reel, build a website through drupal, and making a short documentary on Article 9. Then by the fall I will most likely be moving back to the US. While looking for work, I hope to volunteer for the democratic national campaign.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

June 25: Refusenik at the Refugee Film Festival

The schedule for the Refugee Film festival has been announced! The documentary film that I worked on Refusenik will be screened on the 25th of June at the Instituto Cervantes de Tokio at 7:30 pm. I will be speaking in the Q&A after the screening, so please come and support me and this amazing documentary about a people's movement that spanned thirty years to bring freedom to the Soviet Jews. Also let me not forget to mention this screening and all other films as part of the Refugee Film fest is absolutely FREE!

Just to represent this information in easily retainable way:

What: Refusenik
When: Wed, June 25, 2008 at 19:30
How much: FREE!!!
Where: Instituto Cervantes de Tokio
2-9, Rokubancho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0085
Phone: 03 5210-1800
Directions: Nearest Station: Koujimachi Station. Subway Yurakcho Line
(3 minutes walk from Exit B5 towards Ichigaya)
Other stations: Ichigaya Station. JR Sobu Line, Subway Yurakcho Line, Namboku Line, Shinjuku Line (6 minute walk) Yotsuya Station. JR Chuo Line, JR Sobu Line, Subway Namboku Line, Shinjuku Line (7 minute walk)

There are also some other great films that I am really keen on seeing such as War/Dance, New Year Baby, NKBA Palestine 1984 and many others, so check out the schedule below.

Also, since this entire film festival is a free and open to the public, there will be a fundraiser pre-party at Seco Lounge on the 18th of June.
Refugee Film festival PreParty

Date: June 18th [Wed]

Time: 7pm to 11pm

Place: Seco Lounge, 03-6418-8141

Price: ¥1500 [does not include drink]

Live: Chaos Theory
Rhythm Droid
West African performers to be announced

Painting: Amadou Tounkara (Senegal)

Visuals: M.M.M

Come, come, come!! xox

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thesis Summary: How new media contributes to peacebuilding

For those of you who have expressed an interest in reading my thesis, instead of making you suffer through 111 pages, I suggest reading this summary:

New Media Technology: The Next Platform in Peacebuildling Dialgoue


Nishikura, Megumi

In today's modern industrialized world, it is nearly impossible for one to go through the day with out watching television, hearing the radio, or getting an email with latest viral video attached from a friend. Media is pervasive; people today live in a society where they are plugged and receiving information seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. With the development of global news media giants such as CNN over the last twenty years, news reports are up to the minute and can be delivered to your latest mobile device. Since the development of the Internet, more and more people are tuning to it for their sources of information. With the click of a button one has thousands of sources of information on the same topic. The Internet also allows anyone to participate in public discourse on issues and influence policies and political decisions.

Media is ultimately a tool that conveys information. It can be used both for good and for ill. It can fan the flames of the conflict or aid in conflict prevention and resolution. Radio transmitters and television stations have been used to induce conflict. The most famous example of this is the “Hate Radio” in Rwanda in 1994. Radio Mille Collines ignited the Rwanda Genocide- nearly a million people were killed in the span of 100 days. However, media has been used to bring people together instead of dividing them. In the 1980's a new form of communication emerged. It brought people together from across the globe and allowed them to exchange their feelings, concerns and thoughts. This technology was the satellite television exchange called Spacebridges. During the height of the Cold War, Spacebridges brought everyday Americans and Soviets together, bypassing their heads of state, to have a conversation with the "other" side.

Today's technology, the Internet and the increasingly ease of posting videos on-line is allowing for a new break through in communication. The social networking aspect of web 2.0 is allowing more people to interact and dialogue with each other than ever before. Add peacebuilding media that addresses some of humanity's most pressing global issues, and people gain knowledge, begin to question and dialogue—the basis of any significant social change. The growth of Internet has also allowed for alternative media to contribute and increase the diversity and perspectives of information.

Media for conflict resolution and peacebuilding is a relatively new field. Much of the research that has been done thus far has focused on media democracy, information communication technology, peace journalism, and peace-building media in developing nations. The focus of my thesis is a case study on a media organization that is taking advantage of this new media technology to dialogue between people from opposite sides of a conflict.

Chat the Planet, a New York based media organization, has being using media as tool to bring young people from around the world together. The programs Chat the Planet produces connects young people to talk about “everything from politics, prejudices and war to sex, music and life in general” (, 2008). Since its beginning in 2002, Chat has evolved along with new media technology to provide the latest cutting-edge way of communication and dialogue between youth beyond the borders of nations, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. Using satellite and ISDN video link-up technology, Chat the Planet connected groups of young people in studio settings from opposite sides of the world to have conversations with each other.

Their latest project, Hometown Baghdad is a documentary web-series which follows the lives of three 20-some-year-old Iraqis, capturing their every day lives intimately as they live under the US occupation in Baghdad, Iraq. Originally, Chat the Planet aimed to have the Hometown Baghdad air as a television program and approached the major networks for funding and distribution. However, they were turned down time and time again. The networks reasoned that the American public was over-saturated with news from Iraq and that audiences would find the show boring. With limited budget and time constraints, Chat the Planet began uploading the documentary videos to YouTube on the fourth anniversary of the War on Iraq.

Hometown Baghdad succeeded in building bridges between youth of the opposite sides of the US- Iraq war by providing a virtual space where they could dialogue, debate and build friendships with each other. Chat the Planet choose upper-middle class English speaking non-devout Muslims to resonate with US viewers. The participants selected for Hometown Baghdad were Adel, an aspiring rock star, Ausama, a 20 year old medical student, and Saif, a 23 year old recent college graduate in dentistry. The stories of these three young men were told through webisodes-short vignettes of about two to three minutes.

Chat the Planet's objectives for Hometown Baghdad were to: Humanize the people of Iraq for a global young adult audience ages 18-34, thereby changing attitudes and stereotypes of negativity and fear; educate through storytelling of what young people are all about in Iraq; demonstrate through storytelling that we all have far more in common than different; leverage media and technology to foster dialogue amongst young adults around the world, showcasing the topic of everyday life in a war zone. The videos were uploaded three times a week to and various other video-sharing sites. Chat discovered that by creating weekly compelling video content they were able to build a dedicated viewership. The video-sharing websites provided a count the number of views. The comments function of Youtube allowed the audience to give feedback on the content of the show and provided qualitative data of the show's impact. The results show that the Hometown Baghdad videos have been viewed about 3 Million times and hundreds of comments left on the Hometown Baghdad blog and various websites.

Through the 38 episodes, Hometown Baghdad addressed hard topics such as US troops, safety and security, and democracy and liberation. The day to day challenges such as lack of electricity, garbage disposal, and transportation were also shown. Chat the Planet, knowing how to best reach young people, also covered issues such as dating, student life, and smoking shisha. The two to three minute length of each webisode played a key role in getting viewers to leave comments and participate in dialogue with the cast as viewers are more likely to leave comments after watching a two to three minute video than getting bored watching a longer video and moving on to something else.

Through analyzing the comments left on, I found that Chat the Planet was able to reach its objectives. It generated conversations in the mainstream media as well as in the blogosphere. Viewers began to dialogue with each other on the blog by writing comments and asking questions. The three cast members, Adel, Ausama and Saif and other Iraqi participants responded to their inquiries. As a result, friendships, new understanding, and changes in attitudes occurred. The success Chat the Planet received both quantitatively and qualitatively resulted in television networks knocking on their door. After distributing their content online for free, they successfully sold a one-hour version of Hometown Baghdad to the Sundance Channel and National Geographic Channel. Hometown Baghdad has also recently won three Webby Awards- the Academy Awards equivalent of the Internet awards. Chat is planning to continue this dialogue and distribution model in upcoming productions of Hometown Tehran and Hometown Jerusalem.

So how does new media technology contribute to peacebuilding? Through the tools of new media- blogging, streaming-video, and social networking- people are connecting around common interests regardless of geographic location. When applied to the context of people from opposite sides of conflict, several things occur. First, alternative perspective and new information unavailable in mainstream media is presented. Second, previously held stereotypes are broken down and the parties are humanized. Thirdly, transformation in attitudes can occur. Fourthly, in some cases apologies and condolences are offered- a vital step in reconciliation of conflict. And finally, through ongoing conversations between the two sides friendships are formed.

New media does not offer a panacea to conflict. Once again it is merely a tool that can be use for good or for ill. It also is not with out its limitations- this particular case can not replace face to face mediated dialogue between two parties and is only beneficiary to those who speak English and have a fast internet connection. However, it is incredibly encouraging to see the potential that it holds. It is my hope that Hometown Baghdad will serve as model for future opportunities to connect people around the world in the name of peace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tokyo: Support the victims of Cyclon Nargis

Two huge natural disasters have rocked our planet earth over the past couple of weeks. With death tolls in the tens to hundreds of thousands, it's easy to feel either overwhelmed and helpless or completely unaffected by something so far away. However, theres is something that we can all do to help. In particular for the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma, this weekend in Tokyo, Parties 4 Peace is partnering with Sounds of Sunday Party and organizing an organic vegetarian BBQ this Sunday, May 25th.

The funds raised will go to support Save the Children
Save the Children currently operates programs in all five of the most-affected regions and has worked in Myanmar (Burma) since 1995. As one of the largest nongovernmental organizations at work in Burma, the agency implements programs focused on early childhood care and development, child survival and child protection.

"Our staff in Burma are doing lifesaving work, but we could reach more children and families if we had the supplies that they so desperately need. Indeed, if aid continues to be restricted, the condition for thousands of children will rapidly deteriorate. Alarmingly, food prices have already risen, which means that hunger might become a problem for some families. Public health conditions could also get worse as people live close together in shelters and water supplies remain limited. Without immediate and wide-scale assistance, the situation for children looks likely to get worse before it improves."

今週の日曜日「SOUNDS on SUNDAYS」 & パーティーフォーピースKitchen

P4P - Parties 4 Peace & S.O.S
Presents: S.O.S. - Sounds On Sunday

5.25 [SUNDAY]
@ Oath in Shibuya [ 4 pm - 11pm ] 1000 YEN

Techno / Minimal / Electro Beats

Anthony Mansfield (Hector Works - San Francisco)
Groove Patrol [Two Dogs]
Radarboy (Radarpop)

Tazzy [Rhythm Odyssey]
Keisho Kikuchi [Kamui Recordings]
Jasmine Jordan [ABCDGCDB]

BBQ Provided by Alishan Foods & Second Harvest
*all Organic and Vegetarian Foods*

Oath in Aoyama

Come and enjoy some yummy veggie kabob.
(Photo courtesy of Parties 4 Peace)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Report from the Global Article 9 conference!

The Global Article 9 Conference was held at Makuhari Messe (just outside of Tokyo) on May 4-6th. Over 10,000 people turned up for the opening ceremony. 1100 people from Hiroshima, 2500 from Sendai, and 8000 people from Osaka participated in the event locally in their respective cities. There were also 150 people from 40 countries in attendance. In total, there were 30,000 participants over the three days! On the opening day, the main event hall reached its capacity while a line stretched out the door and people had to be turned away. What an amazing turn out. In my peace activism career I have been to many workshops and conferences before but this event by far blew the rest out of the water. WTG Peace Boat!

I unfortunately could not stay for the entire three-day event due to the impending thesis deadline of May 15th. I did try to get some footage of the opening remarks and various workshops which I hope to use in a film I'm planning to make this summer. I'll be updaiting with more clips over the next couple of months now that my graduate studies are winding down.

Here's a short clip of Yoshiyoka Tatsuya, Peace Boat Director, as he opens the conference. (In Japanese) Enjoy!

To give you a quick translation (my first real attempt):

"Welcome to the Article 9 conference. It's amazing to see this many people, in fact there are still many people standing outside waiting. All these people coming here for the Article 9 Conference... this is a truly historic event at this moment in time. As the co-chair for the Global Article 9 conference and of Peace Boat, I am here to give opening remarks. First though I want to respond to that, even at this time, there are many people because of war, conflict, disaster, sickness who are losing their lives. I believe that there are huge numbers of people from World War II and the conflicts before that were lost and as a result, from the desires of not just Japanese people but the victims of all of Asia--from these wars and colonization--that Article 9 was born.

I have met many people from around the world and have spoken to them about Article 9. And every time I speak about the spirit of Article 9, that it will really abolish war, that it will really abolish military... that spirit is in fact a desire of most people in the world. They deeply feel for it and desire it. Particularly, the people who have been affected by conflict like the Palestinians, the Kosovars, Africans or those from East Timor. People around the world want to create a world without war and without military as soon as possible. They truly desire this. Those people from around the world have come to this conference today. Please welcome them..."

(please message me if I've incorrectly translated anything)

Anyways here are some links to English press coverage:

Japan Today (Kyodo): Thousands convene for int'l Article 9 conference

AP: Thousands rally for Japan constitution

Japan Times: Nobel Peace Prize winner hits moves to change Article 9

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pangaea Day

Last night at two in the morning, fifty people gathered at the United Nations University's Media Lab to participate in Pangaea Day. Pangaea Day was a world-wide internet-streaming film event in which 24 films were shared over the course of four hours in the name of global awareness and cultural understanding. Broadcast live across the globe, Japan had the lucky fortune of receiving the internet stream at 3 am and I came fully prepared with a sleeping bag to enjoy the cinematic spectacle.

The brains behind this event, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (producer of the documentary film Control Room) won the TED Prize of $100,000 for her idea that would change the world. The idea, Pangaea day, was a mix of films, music, and speakers who focused on our common humanity while celebrating our diversities. I particularly liked that the event started with planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, reminding us of the wonder and amazement that we as human beings have come to be on a tiny pale blue dot in the vast sea of the universe. Some of the other highlights included an Israeli mother,whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, read a letter of reconciliation she wrote to the sniper's mother; artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris who created the website "We feel fine" which aggregates human emotions by scanning people's blogs and photos for how they are feeling; and former child soldier Ishmael Beah.

While it's certainly possible to call elements of the event bordering on cheesy and not one particular film stood out in my mind in being outstanding (I admit I did nap a little, so I may have missed somethings), what is incredible about this event is how many of us were able to come together to simultaneous share this movie-going experience. Thousands if not millions of people gathered in front of their computers or attended one of the major event spaces in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro.

Here we see technology as the grand facilitator of this global gathering. While using satellite television is not new, (ie. Spacebridges during the Height of the Cold War), today's streaming video capabilities brought this event into our internet-equipped private homes at an unprecedented scale. When the Laughter Yoga founder, Dr Madan Kataria asked everyone to stand and join him in laughter, all of us at the UNU media lab stood up and laughed. Can you visualize thousands of people around the world standing and laughing together at the same time? This is the power of technology. As I have witnessed over the past year through the cases of Dropping Knowledge and Hometown Baghdad, I see this event as just one more example of how technology can connects us in new and deeper ways, creating awareness of our unity as one world, and allowing us to join in conversation with one another.

It's not too late to watch the event and to continue the conversation online. Just go to .

Here's a clip of our Tokyo event:

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hometown Baghdad wins 3 Webby awards!

Hey, I just found out the exciting news that Hometown Baghdad, the case study for my thesis, has just won three Webby awards! The Webbys are considered the Oscars of the Internet, so this is a huge recognition of a show that used the web as platform to create dialogue between young Iraqis and the rest of the world! HB won in the categories of Best Reality, Best News and Politics: Series and Best Public Service and Activism.

Congrats to the Chat the Planet the producers of Hometown Baghdad!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Forum: The Power of Peace Network

(courtesy of

This August, from the 7th through the 9th, The Power of Peace Network will be holding an international forum at the University of Waterloo. The Power of Peace Network is about utilizing the power of media- traditional TV and radio to online digital media- to influence and support peacebuilding.

The first Power of Peace forum was held in Bali, Indonesia in January 2007. There, "Recognized thinkers and practitioners from the public and private sectors met to strategize how best to harness the power of the media and ICTs in a practical and effective way for the purpose of building awareness, dialogue, harmony, and peace." (Power of Peace Report)

The 2008 forum will focus on : "the potential of new media as a means of encouraging cultural engagement and interaction, issues of education as it fits into the digital world, where the world of digital technology is going, how universities might participate in the creation of a global peace network."

Sounds a lot like my thesis, doesn't it? (Oh by the way which is due in a week!)

I'm very keen to attend this event and I've sent in my application, so wish me luck so that I get accepted.
xox, Megumi

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Interviewed by iGenius

I was recently interviewed by iGenius, the social networking site for social entrepreneurs, about my peace work. Here's a snipit, to read more click here.

Editor: When did you first become interested in peace-making projects?

I was senior at New York University when September 11th happened. Though I was not in New York City at the time, it deeply affected me. I had previously considered a career as a music video director but after 9-11, I felt I had to do all that was in my power to prevent something like that from ever happening again. However, it was not until I got involved in the anti-Iraq war movement in 2003 that I found my calling to use media as a tool for peace. Now, I am about two months away from finishing a masters in peace and conflict studies on the Rotary World Peace Fellowship.

Editor: How long have you been working with Images of Peace?

Images of Peace will officially launch later this year but the idea for it germinated in 2005. I had just completed a short film called Peace Begins with Me and You, when I realized that from there on out I would be collecting stories or “images” of peace. I believe people are working for peace in both small and big ways every day. This is what I would like to document through Images of Peace.

Editor: What inspires you the most?

Megumi: Peace: Whenever people gather together in the name of peace I am inspired. The first anti-Iraq war protest I participated in was on February 15th, 2003. This was the Day the World Said No to War. Even in 20 F degree weather, there were half a million people on the streets of New York standing for what they believed in. It was among these people that I began to ask myself: What more can I do ?
The campaign to establish a US Department of Peace and Nonviolence and all the activists who work on it also inspire me daily. US Congressmen Dennis Kucinich inspires me.

Filmmakers: I have to say that more than any big name director, the filmmakers that I have worked with and under have been an inspiration to me. I have learnt so much about filmmaking through them and as result they have influenced my work.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tokyo: Upcoming film festivals

For the globally conscious media junkie, there are a few film festivals coming to Tokyo that you should mark down on your calender.

1. The UNHCR Refugee Film Festival- June 2008 (The website is down at the moment...)
This will be the third year that the UNHCR Refugee film festival will be held in Tokyo. Not only do they showcase great films related to refugee issues around the world, the film festival is entirely free to the public! And on top of that a documentary film I worked on in LA (and that I have blogged about recently) Refusenik has been accepted to be screened. The date of the screening is yet TBD, but I'll be sure to update you on this. So at the very least, don't miss out on this one!

2. Tokyo Peace Film Festival- July 18-20th. This year the TPFF will be screening films such ash Iraq for Sale, American vs. Jon Lennon, and
「六ヶ所村通信」Rokkashoumura Tsushin- a film about Japan's newest nuclear reprocessing plant which has been a hot contested issues among anti-nuclear activist in Japan. I had the pleasure of meeting Kamanaka Hitomi, the director of the film, when she was a guest lecturer on Peace Boat's 53rd global voyage.

3. Artivist Film Festival- November 14-16, 2008
I first came across the Artivist film festival while I was in Los Angeles. The word Artivist came from the merging of Art + Activist, and thus their mission is to "strengthen the voice of the activist artists - 'Artivists' - while raising public awareness for social global causes." This film festival showcases stories on human rights, children's advocacy, environmental preservation and animal rights. My short film Peace Begins with Me and You was screened at their 2006 film festival at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood. I am currently submitting films to the Tokyo debut of this film festival, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tokyo: Injured Soldiers Exhibit

This afternoon I took the train to Ebisu to visit the "Injured Soldiers" exhibition at the MA2Gallery. Photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, usually known to photograph celebrities and porn stars, powerfully captured the images of 13 wounded Iraq veterans. This photo exhibit is part of larger documentary for HBO called Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq which examines that lives of the newest generation of veterans.
Hung on the stark white walls of the two-story MA2Gallery, the photographs were accompanied by a booklet describing the personal stories of the veterans. Most of them were in their 20s, younger than me, yet by the expressions upon their face I would have assumed they were at least in their 30s. The photographs are simple portraits with all of the subjects looking directly at the camera. Some seemed proud of their battle wounds, others have seemed to have found new meaning in their life, and others seem lost and defeated. As best put by HBO, these photographs/film "puts a face to some of the many soldiers and Marines who've come back in record numbers suffering from severe injuries and trauma, and who, in many ways, have been hidden from the public's view."

The exhibit will continue until the 30th of April. Once exiting the East exit of Ebisu station, continue straight along the main street on the map provided by the gallery (unlike me who took a 15 minute detour...) and you will eventually get there. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday form 12-7pm.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Images from Article 9 Peace Bike ride.

Despite the continuous torrential down pour on the days leading up to the bike ride, April 19th turned to be a pretty mild day- good enough for bike ride from Shibuya to Yoyogi park in the name of Article 9. The bikers sang songs of peace, handed out fliers and invited passersby to join the Global Article 9 conference.
Here are some video-captured stills from the Article 9 Peace bike ride:

Getting ready for their bike ride at Shibuya station.

Levi, Rob and Taka are decorating their wheels with a custom made heiwa 9 (peace) decorations.

They begin to walk/ride through the streets of Shibuya.

Shirine and Rob pass out the Global Article 9 conference flyers to pedestrians.

Jen, Levi and Jamie bike towards the Earth Day Festival at Yoyogi Park.

Next Article 9 event is :

Salsa to the Beat of 9, April 26th

Thanks to Article 9, we CAN dance salsa in peace!

Salsa to the Beat of 9
April 26th, 7pm-11pm
Cuban Cafe, 〒104-0045 東京都中央区築地5-6 10浜離宮パークサイドプレイス1F
Contact: Jennifer at for more details:)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rotary International Peace Park and Hiroshima film

On April 17 and 18th, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Upstate and Rotary International will be inaugurating the Upstate Rotary International Peace Park. Kola Badejo, the senior adviser on Africa in the United Nations Global Compact Office, will be the keynote speaker at a Peace Symposium as well as two Rotary World Peace Fellow alumni Carla Fantini and Jenny Favinger. My documentary film on Hiroshima will be screened on the 18th. To find more about this event click here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tokyo: Countdown to the Global Article 9 Conference

We are a few weeks away from the Global Article 9 conference (May 4-6). In the lead up to it, many activities are taking place in Tokyo and the surrounding areas.

On Saturday April 19th, Peace Boat is organizing a peace bike ride for Article 9. The bike ride begins at 11am at Hachiko exit at Shibuya and participants will ride to the Earth Day festivities at Yoyogi Park.

Peace Bike Ride for A9
"Join us for a day of cycling to support A9, the peace constitution"
Peace Boat

Time and Place
Saturday, April 19, 2008
11:00am - 2:00pm
Shibuya, Tokyo
Hachiko exit, Shibuya eki
Tokyo, Japan

Peace Walk for Article 9
Also, since the end of February, several hardcore peace activists have been walking from Hiroshima towards Tokyo, aiming to arrive on the first day of the conference. You can read up more about them and their Peace Walk here. I am hoping to join them at some point and film some of their activities as well, all pending on the progress of my thesis.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Refusenik film: Trailer

Please click on the image below to watch the trailer for the documentary film Refusenik:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Refusenik film: Theater Release!

I am happy to announce a documentary film that I worked on back when I was living in LA will have a theatrical release. Please go to it if you can, not only for my sake, but because it is an inspiring story of a grassroots movement that spanned 30 years and which ultimately lead to the human rights victory and freedom of 2 million Soviet Jews.
To find more about the film, visit:
and forward this information on!




April 11th, 2008
Landmark Varsity Theatre
4329 University Way N.E.
Seattle, WA 98105

April 11th, 2008
Landmark Lumiere Theatre
1572 California St. at Polk
San Francisco, CA 94109

April 18, 2008
Regal Fox Tower Stadium 10
846 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 221-3280

May 9th, 2008
The Quad Cinema
34 West 13th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-8800

May 23, 2008
Laemmle's Music Hall
9036 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 274-6869