Writer/Director Partners with Free Planet Radio and Odyssey Community School to Develop Feature Film, “Harmony”, a Compelling Look at Compassion between CulturesFilmmaker Pana Columbus is partnering with Asheville’s World Music Trio, Free Planet Radio, and the Odyssey Community School on her movie “Harmony” which she plans to shoot, in part, in Asheville. Columbus calls the film, “an invocation for peace in the Middle East”. The film tells the tale of an American philosophy professor whose son is killed in the Iraq War. Her search to understand what makes a society peaceful leads her to study with different Eastern cultures, such as the Tibetans, the Balinese, and the Sufis. On her journey she discovers a secret, utopian, island society whose religion is rooted in creating interpersonal harmony through music. After the community is discovered by the media, individuals from Israel and Palestine become initiated in the society’s practices, and a new wave of possibility enters the previously dead-locked Middle Eastern region.
Pana’s career has primarily been as a playwright and director, and she is no stranger to using the arts for community transformation. Her play, “The New Earth”, performed in 2006 at the Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem, PA, was the catalyst for the creation of an environmentally based charter school in Emmaus, which now serves over 350 students. Her production of the play “Gilgamesh” performed at Allentown Symphony Hall and hailed by the Morning Call newspaper as “An ambitious and stunning accomplishment...” was the catalyst for a non-profit that launched an on-going, inner-city, classical music program at Roosevelt Community Elementary School, which was recently honored at the White House (one of three schools nationally).
Her process in seeking to catalyze change in the Middle East will start in Asheville. Her first step is to build empathy and love for both sides of the conflict in initiatives created in partnership with the Odyssey Community School. The partnership will include projects that cultivate understanding for both Israelis and Palestinians with the students, parents, and staff, as well as for the greater Asheville community. For example, this spring, she and her composer husband Scott Eggert will do a residency at Odyssey Community School in which students will rehearse and perform an original play with music called “Home Safe Home.” This play will be performed at the Odyssey Community School at the unveiling of a Peace Garden built at the school.
For the greater Asheville community, she will be holding monthly music gatherings with Free Planet Radio, recently voted #1 World Music Ensemble in WNC, starting in January. These gatherings will capitalize on the many devotional singing traditions in Asheville to develop the actual scenes in the movie that take place on the utopian island. Says Columbus, “If we’re going to create an enlightened utopian society of musicians and singers in the film, what better place to create that society than Asheville?” Free Planet Radio will be providing the music as well as composing original music developed at these events for the film’s soundtrack.
Pana is currently seeking singers to cast in this film. No acting experience required, but a familiarity with music as a devotional modality, such as chanting, group call and response, etc. would be helpful. If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbus recently published her memoir, “She Wore Blue Invoking the Water,” which is available at Malaprop’s Bookstore. She is also facilitating a weekend retreat called “The Elements of Transformation™”, an in-depth experience for those seeking support to make a change in their lives, held on October 4, 5, 6 at the historic Wysteria Inn in downtown Weaverville. For more information, visit www.panacolumbus.com