A few hours from now, Dallas Video Festival co-founder and UT-Arlington film prof Bart Weiss will get on a plane for Pakistan -- Karachi and Lahore, to be more specific. He will do there what he's done here for more than two decades: show movies and teach anyone willing to learn how to make their own, preferably a documentary, as Weiss has always been a true believer in "the truth." Matter of fact, Weiss is accompanying a doc filmmaker, Tricia Regan, who will screen her acclaimed made-for-HBO Autism: The Musical every night to a different audience during their nine-day U.S. Department of State-sponsored sojourn to Pakistan.
"I was originally supposed to go Libya and Iraq a month ago," Weiss tells Unfair Park. "But it fell apart because the local contact left his post the day before we were supposed to go. Imagine showing up in Iraq without anyone to meet you."
Weiss is among 30 filmmakers and 10 so-called "specialists" recruited for the trip; he received his invite through the University Film & Video Association, of which he's a member. As it happens, Weiss isn't the only local making such a trip: Also selected were Allen and Cynthia Mondell, who, at some point, will travel overseas to screen their award-winning State Fair of Texas doc, A Fair to Remember.
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"I have no idea what kind of things people will ask me," Weiss says, "but the deeper issues are, I believe deep into everything I do that you can change people's attitude by showing them a film. The key is having empathy, and film does that very well. With documentaries, you see people's lives and the struggle they go through. It's hard to hate people in a profound way when you see the goodness in them."
In addition to Autism: The Musical, Weiss says he's bringing about 50 other docs with him to screen for those interested in the works of, oh, Al and David Maysles or Robert Drew. Which will make Weiss the doc prophet of Pakistan, spreading the gospel of truth-telling at 24 frames per second, more or less.
During his trip, he'll post photos, video and essays to KERA's Art+Seek Blog, and he promises to send a few items our way as well. As for whether or not he's nervous about whole thing, well, Weiss puts it this way:
"On the one hand, we're being driven around in armored cars. On the other hand, we're driving around in armored cars. But I think we'll be OK -- it'll be a good time, and I'll see things I wouldn't have seen otherwise."