’12 Windows’ Film Explores Arson and Forgiveness – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

’12 Windows’ Film Explores Arson and Forgiveness

“12 Windows: encountering culture through film” presents a special film examining intercultural relations in a community very near to us: “North of 49,” a story about arson, forgiveness and healing in the post 9-11 world will be presented at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9, in the Geneva Room.

“North of 49,” an hour-long documentary based on events surrounding the arson attack on Gobind Sadan, the Sikh Center in upstate New York, tells a story that could have happened in any community in America in the wake of 9/11. Four teenagers from the Parish/Mexico area of Oswego County destroyed the sacred place of neighbors who wear beards and turbans, neighbors who practice an unfamiliar religion rooted in an unfamiliar culture. But instead of hatred, the act released a force of love and forgiveness. Immediately after the teens were arrested, the Sikhs forgave them – while acknowledging they had to be punished for their crime.

Both the arsonists and the Sikhs were victims. The Sikhs suffered a tragic loss. The arsonists suffered the consequences of acting blindly and ignorantly. Two were sentenced to 4-12 years in prison, two (who were directly involved in the fire) served 90 days in county jail. Thus began the slow process, chronicled by this film, of rebuilding the community based on love, forgiveness and respect for all beliefs and world view.

Ralph Singh, the leader of this Sikh community north of Syracuse, will introduce the film and lead discussion afterwards. The film was co-produced by Richard Breyer and David Coryell. Breyer is a professor at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and will also attend the screening. He is a noted documentary producer, and author of textbooks on television production and writing. His credits include “This Hope,” about post-civil war El Salvador; “A Toast to Sweet Old Age,” about longevity in the Republic of Georgia; and “Faces in a Famine,” about the Ethiopian famine. He also produced the educational series “Speak for Yourself” with Westinghouse Broadcasting Corporation. He has been a Fulbright Scholar to India and a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, and has expertise in media application in developing countries. He helped launch one of India's prime cable companies, SET, Sony Entertainment Television. Coryell, is a screenwriter and adjunct professor at the Newhouse School, in the Department of Television, Radio and Film.

Sponsored by Religious Studies, Asian Studies and the Human Rights and Genocide Forum.