Diverging Stories, Intertwined Destinies

 Armenians, Kurds, and Turks

Diverging Stories, Intertwined Destinies

A Documentary Film Project:

a film about an approach to transforming and healing the wounding historical legacies of Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish cultures in Turkey

featuring a three-day experiential workshop
with Armenians, Kurds and Turks in San Francisco, CA


ask us about sponsoring options.
nermin@healingthewoundsofhistory.org

Synopsis.

Documenting an intensive candid group process, this ethnographic documentary captures the nature of historical conflict between Armenians, Kurds and Turks and further explores personal and collective healing avenues.

Various events in the past century have created ruptures between Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish communities. Current trajectories for these communities are shadowed by the lack of resolution and peaceful political discourse. We believe there can be no political solution until we address the needs of the emotions and the aspirations of these ethnic groups.

Transformation begins with individuals. Working with people from historically conflicted backgrounds, together, we can begin to cultivate feelings of empathy and transform trauma into constructive action. And unless our collective traumas, unresolved grief, sense of loss and feelings of revenge surrounding historical events are dealt with, they will continue to come back to haunt us.

Featuring Armenians, Kurds and Turks, who share defining moments from their lives, viewers will have a window into the nature of trans-generational trauma. The film primarily documents a drama therapy workshop and a Playback Theatre performance surrounding the personal stories of the workshop participants incorporating music, movement, ritual and spoken improvisation.

Drama therapy is an innovative method that is active and experiential; it provides participants with a safe yet stimulating context in which to convey personal and family stories, uncover and express feelings, and explore historical narratives and identities. Because drama therapy is both active and reflective, it helps people to integrate emotional, cognitive, and physical levels of experience and provides powerful story-telling methods for the audience.


THE CORE TEAM

The Filmmakers

Nermin Soyalp, MA, Ph.D.c., Historical and Collective Trauma researcher/facilitator, co-producer & videographer of World is Sound, travel channel about music featuring artists around the globe. Nermin has been a collaborator with Armand Volkas in the HWH approach since 2012 where they together organized HWH workshops with Germans and Jews, Turks, Kurds and Armenians.  She is a skilled trainer and a facilitator. Nermin holds degrees on Statistics and Organizational Psychology. In addition to running her consulting practice in Oakland, CA, Nermin is working on her Ph.D. dissertation at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS): Historical Traumas and Healing Between Armenian, Kurdish, and Turkish ethnicities.



Burcu Tung
 Ph.D. settled in the Bay Area after an arduous nomadic lifestyle. She taught on heritage and culture at UC Merced and UC Berkeley after attaining her PhD in Anthropology from UC Berkeley. She is currently working on the publication of a long-term excavation project in Turkey. She has been involved within the Bay Area Armenian community since 2006 both through dialogue work and her co-production a short documentary film on the community St Vartan Church in Oakland.

 


Filiz Celik, Ph.D. is an independent consultant on collective and historical traumas in Turkey. She completed her PhD from Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. She studied the intergenerational effects of the trauma of the Dersim Massacre (1937-38). Her research interests include migration, diaspora communities,  minority identities such as ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural identities  and  their revival in transnational space.  Filiz is currently living in Wales, UK and works as a research assistant at Swansea University focusing on non-professional experiences of community interpreting and translanguaging. She is also studying her masters in systemic  and family therapy and practicing as a counsellor. She has been a member of Healing the Wounds of History team since 2015 and actively supports and contributes to programs relating to Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian conflict.


Healing the Wound of History Approach Director & Facilitator
Armand Volkas
, MFT, RDT/BCT is a psychotherapist, drama therapist, theatre director and professor. Armand has received international recognition for his Healing the Wounds of History approach to bringing groups in conflict together. He has facilitated groups in multiple countries including, descendants of Jewish Holocaust survivors and The Third Reich; Turks and Armenians; Turks and Kurds; Palestinians and Israelis; Japanese and Chinese, Tamil and Singhalese, Japanese and Koreans; African-Americans and European-Americans and the factions involved in the Lebanese Civil War.

Armand is Artistic Director of The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble, now in its 28th year. He is Clinical Director of the Living Arts Counseling Center in Emeryville and Associate Professor in the Counseling Psychology Program at California Institute of Integral Studies and Adjunct Professor at John F. Kennedy University, Sofia University, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute and the Canadian School of Peacebuilding.

Armand has been honored with the Raymond Jacobs Award for his dedication to diversity and cultural competence and The Gertrud Schattner Award from the North American Drama Therapy Association for his distinguished contributions to the field. He has developed innovative programs using drama therapy for social change, intercultural conflict transformation, intercultural communication and peacebuilding.


Director of Photography

information coming soon.


Music Supervisor

Jef Stott, composer, performer, host and producer of World is Sound, travel channel about music. Jef is a life-long musician and producer who has been working in global music forms throughout his career. Jef holds degrees on Multi-Media and Anthropology. His work has been featured in major motion pictures, television, video games, theatre and modern dance. He has toured the world numerous times as a performer. In addition to his musical work, he is also a documentary film-maker & producer of World is Sound. He profiled musicians from around the world in a short form documentary style.





Participant Stories

(will be posted here)


The Legacy of Collective Trauma in Anatolia

Several historical traumatic events occurred in Anatolia during the last century which caused different communities, who had lived in peace side by side for hundreds of years, to become estranged or even enemies. For example, in 1915 many Armenians were expunged from their ancestral lands, resulting in the deaths hundreds and thousands, in what has been called the Armenian Genocide.

After formation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, all residents of the country were considered Turkish, and if not, subjected to a  ‘Turkification process. Kurds who resisted assimilation were punished through various ways, and perhaps most severely at Dersim where thousands were massacred between 1937-38.  There continues to be ongoing conflict between the Turkish State and Kurdish citizens who wish to honor their culture, language and identity.  

Having been formed after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with massive population movements from the Balkans and Greece, Turkey harbours an amalgamation of people. Despite the Turkish State’s desire to create a singular Turkish identity, suppressed migration stories still continue to make an important part of Turkish ‘muhacir’ (immigrant) identities.

Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian cultures, either in the diaspora or at home, are fated to live side by side as they have for half a millennium. As a result their destinies are intertwined, and their sense of self intimately tied to the other.

How do we navigate through this politically and psychologically loaded minefield
 towards constructive dialogue and cooperation?

Healing the Wounds of History (HWH) workshops are based on the premise that there can be no political solutions to intercultural conflict until we understand and take into consideration the emotional, and unconscious drives of the human being. The Healing the Wounds of History method, which takes a psychological approach to conflict, provides a map to help participants traverse the emotional terrain to reconciliation.

Diverging Stories, Intertwined Destinies: Documentary Format.

Healing the Wound of History Workshop, Bay Area CA, 2017

Turks, Kurds and Armenians from the community who are willing to be emotional pioneers for their cultures, will be invited to participate in a free three-day Healing the Wounds of History (HWH) workshop. HWH is a process in which experiential techniques are used to work with a group of participants who share a common legacy of historical trauma. Workshop process will be followed by Playback Theatre performance where participants will share their experiences with the community. Facilitation and filming of the HWH process will take place in the Bay Area, CA. If needed, filmmakers will travel to Turkey for additional regional footage

Healing the Wounds of History takes place in two phases:

(1) Two and a half day of intensive retreat with approximately 12 participants with Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish participants from ethnic or religious heritage connected with Turkey or the Ottoman Empire (4 Armenians, 4 Kurds and 4 Turks with representatives of Christian, Muslim and Alevi traditions.) Participants could have one or more ethnic or religious identities. During this weekend retreat participant together will explore:

– Historical/ancestral legacies and how they manifest in their daily live
– How they can take steps towards healing personal and collective wound
– How they can convert historical trauma into constructive action.

The workshop will be facilitated by psychotherapist and drama therapist Armand Volkas. Psychodramatic and Sociodramatic processes will be integrated into the workshop.

(2) Workshop participants will return from an intensive weekend retreat to share their experiences with the community. During this event directed by Armand Volkas the Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble will create improvisational theatre pieces based on personal and collective stories told by Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian workshop participants and audience volunteers. 

Interviews with workshop participants and subject matter experts.

Participants will be video-interviewed before and after the workshop to elucidate the thread of their personal stories in relation to what they share during the workshop.

Selection of the HWH process footage will be shared with subject matter experts in the field for their input.  Subject matter experts from various views on the topic will be video-interviewed to bring comprehensive historical and political context into the documentary.

(Pictures and list of subject matter experts will be posted here.)

 


Healing the Wounds of History Approach.

Healing the Wounds of History is a process in which experiential techniques are used to work with a group of participants who share a common legacy of historical trauma. The process was developed by Armand Volkas, MFT, a psychotherapist and drama therapist from Berkeley, California. Volkas is the son of Auschwitz survivors and resistance fighters from World War II. He was moved by his personal struggle with this legacy of historical trauma to address the issues that arose from it: identity, victimization and perpetration, meaning and grief. Healing the Wounds of History helps participants work through the burden of such legacies by transforming their pain into constructive action. Armand Volkas’s work has received international recognition for bringing groups in conflict together: Germans and Jews; Turks and Armenians; Turks and Kurds; Palestinians and Israelis; Japanese, Chinese and Koreans; African-Americans and European-Americans, to name a few.  www.healingthewoundsofhistory.org

The Living Arts Playback Theatre.

The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble is a troupe of improvisational actors and musicians who “play back” personal stories shared by audience members in ways that both honor and illuminate the original experience. Created in 1986 under the direction of psychotherapist and drama therapist Armand Volkas, The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble, in collaboration with The Healing the Wounds of History Project, has received international acclaim for its work in bringing groups in conflict together such as Germans and Jews; Palestinians and Israelis; Japanese, Chinese and Koreans on their legacy of WWII and Armenians and Turks. www.livingartsplayback.org

 

A video about Playback Theatre

 

 


EXAMPLE WORK OF ARMAND VOLKAS AND HEALING THE WOUNDS OF HISTORY

Acts of Reconciliation

In 1989, psychotherapist and drama therapist Armand Volkas brought together the descendants of Jewish Holocaust Survivors with the descendants of Nazis. This 13 minute pilot was created to fundraise for a longer film. However, in May of 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the funding for the making of the film dried up. But, Armand knew that this trauma would not disappear in his life time and he went on to develop his Healing the Wounds of History approach.


Healing the Wounds of History: Palestinians & Israelis

In the aftermath of a violent encounter between pro-Palestinians and pro-Israelis at Concordia University in Montreal, Armand Volkas was brought in as part of a peace and conflict transformation initiative. He led a week long drama therapy workshop with Palestnians and Israelies which culminated in a public forum and Playback Theatre performance with the Montreal community who had been traumatized by these violent events.
 
Read more at
 

Part I

 

Part II

 

Part III


Diverging Stories, Intertwined Destinies:

a documentary about the historical legacies of Turkey, a crossroad of different cultures and religions, surrounding stories of love, loss and longing.

featuring a three-day experiential workshop
with Armenians, Kurds and Turks in San Francisco, CA

Workshop and Filming will take place in August 2017