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Filmmakers to discuss their works at festival

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By Julie Muhlstein
Herald Writer
"Soldiers of Conscience" has been shown at 20 film festivals and will air this year on public television's documentary series "P.O.V." It is also one of the highlights of the Everett Women's Film Festival.
Focusing on conscientious objectors in the U.S. armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 86-minute film is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Historic Everett Theatre.
Catherine Ryan, the film's co-producer and co-director, is scheduled to attend the festival Saturday and to participate in a filmmaker forum.
Another producer-director, Lucy Ostrander, whose "Island Roots" explores the history of the Filipino-American community on Bainbridge Island, also will discuss her work at the Everett festival Saturday.
Speaking from Berkeley, Calif., where Ryan runs the independent documentary company Luna Productions with her husband, Gary Weimberg, Ryan said Tuesday that "Soldiers of Conscience" takes a hard look at the subject of killing in wartime -- and addresses the subject from both sides.
"Yes, this is a film with four conscientious objectors in it," Ryan said. "But there are also four sincere war fighters, soldiers who have been to war, experienced war, and still feel it's the right thing to do." Some of those who justify fighting base their views on "I gave my word" or for religious reasons, she said.
Among those speaking out on the other side is Aidan Delgado, who gained conscientious objector status after his tour in Iraq was finished.
Delgado served in the Army with a military police company and spent much of his time in Iraq at Abu Ghraib prison, where charges of abuses and torture were leveled against American captors. Delgado is the author of "The Sutras of Abu Ghraib: Notes from a Conscientious Objector."
"This is a film that is not about the war in Iraq," said Ryan, who co-directed "Soldiers of Conscience" with Weimberg. "It is a film about war, the issues of conscience, of killing and war, all focused on this experience today."
By including voices from both sides, she said, "what we tried to do was allow this dialogue. They're all separate stories, all woven together around various issues and themes of war."
While Ryan made a film about a current hot-button issue, Lucy Ostrander delved into regional history with "Island Roots."
It was made for IslandWood, a nonprofit organization on Bainbridge Island. On 255 acres, IslandWood hosts schoolchildren for environmental and cultural education, said Katie Jennings, an IslandWood spokeswoman.
"Island Roots" is one of a series of films commissioned by IslandWood as part of its curriculum showing how different cultures relate to the land, Ostrander said. She also made "The Red Pines," a film about Japanese Americans on Bainbridge Island and their steadfast ties to the land even as they were forced into internment camps during World War II.
"From 'The Red Pines,' the Filipino story follows chronologically," Ostrander said. As the Japanese immigrants of the early 1900s became successful strawberry farmers, they needed help on their land. They turned to new immigrants from the Philippines, who in the 1920s and early 1930s were working summers in Alaska canneries. In the winters, they worked the strawberry fields on Bainbridge.
"In 1942, the Japanese on Bainbridge Island were the first in the country to be interned. They left on March 30, 1942. Their crops would ripen in June," Ostrander said.
After the war, many Japanese American farmers had land to return to because Filipino workers had worked the farms in their absence and paid the taxes.
A Filipino community hall on Bainbridge became the gathering place for a thriving culture. The community grew when tribal members from Vancouver Island, B.C., came to Bainbridge as berry pickers and eventually married into the Filipino families.
"Most of the Filipino men came as bachelors, and laws prohibited them from marrying Caucasians," Ostrander said. "In the summer of 1942, there were 12 marriages of native women and Filipino bachelors. The children of these marriages grew up to be called 'Indopinos.' It became a distinct community on Bainbridge."
The short film includes footage of a strawberry festival, and the crowning of festival royalty from several generations. Ostrander relied on oral histories and photographs. It was a challenge, because many of the Filipino families could not afford cameras.
"I think most people on Bainbridge driving past that community hall had no idea of its history," Ostrander said. "For a filmmaker, it's a privilege to tell the story."
Story tags » Community festivalsMoviesEverett

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