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Don’t miss a special FREE SCREENING & LIST(e)N Tour Experience on May 7th, 2020 as part of 10 Days of Connection series of virtual events!
Hi PARKer. I'm Marly Q. and welcome to Episode #5 with Juliana Tafur.
Do you LIST(e)N courageously?
Our guest today does. Juliana is an accomplished filmmaker with a mission to use film to open hearts and minds about some of the most pressing issues of our time. In her nearly 15 years in the film industry she has to produce more than 200 hours of prime time television for major networks like national geographic, discovery, history, and A&E.
Guided by the intuition that it should be possible to have people with opposing viewpoints transcend their differences and connect at a human level. She produced a feature film called LIST(e)N. She's here to talk to us today about the film and her expanded mission of promoting LIST(e)Ning at high schools and universities nationwide.
I'm so proud to know Juliana, not only because she's a PARKer and fellow Coca-Cola scholar like me, but because I truly believe that LIST(e)Ning is one of the greatest acts of kindness. And LIST(e)Ning courageously has the power to connect and heal our relationship with ourselves, others and the world. Let's listen!
Juliana: Thank you for such a kind intro. Well, yes, I’m a filmmaker. I'm a producer, director. I've done a lot of television series and programs throughout the years for many of the cable networks. And as of the last three years, I decided that I wanted to spend more time with kind of my passion projects and be able to have a bigger impact in the world. So I decided to put a project that I had in mind on paper and carry it through and that's how LIST(e)N was born.
LIST(e)N is a film that I produced and directed. It's a feature documentary. It's 80 minutes and it brings together people who are on opposite ends of the spectrum across the topics of abortion, guns and immigration, to have them hear each other out, to have them connect at a human level and transcend differences. So that's the biggest project that I’ve put out, it's my first big feature film. I've done many as a student and I’ve been doing a lot of series, but this really kind of sealed my commitment to have an impact through filmmaking.
Marly Q: Yeah, absolutely! I know you recently were involved with the Miami Film Festival. How did that go?
Juliana: That's right. Yeah, we were very excited to have been selected and to be able to screen LIST(e)N at the Miami Film Festival. It was such an honor. It's such an amazing festival and we're locals. So this was a big festival for us out of all the festivals. We really want it to be in the Miami Film Festival and it just attracts, such a talented pool of filmmakers and it's a film festival that has a very solid audience as well. So it was incredible to be able to share, LIST(e)N in my hometown and with the festival's audience and most importantly to see people's reactions to the film.
Marly Q: Tell me a little bit about that because I can only imagine, I mean, I’m going to come right out and confess. I have not seen it yet, but I know how it must be, first of all, not only because the topic is something that really, truly resonates with me. I think the kindness thing that we can do for ourselves for each other is to listen more, right? And listen openly and be willing to step into someone else's shoes and just listen to their perspective, even if it's something that isn't aligned with what we believe. Like just being able to listen and extend that kindness, I think is huge and a superpower. And I can't wait to see the film personally, which I hope very soon. And I’m really interested in the feedback that you've received so far.
Juliana: Yeah, you're right that it is an act of kindness to be able to get yourself out of your silo and listen attentively, wholeheartedly to connect with the other at a human level, despite your political or ideological affiliation and belief. And it takes a lot of courage to be able to do that. So the participants, who gladly agreed to be a part of this, really are to be commended for their courage and for allowing me the opportunity to carry through with this and do the social experiments. Because in essence, it was a social experiment, the whole film. I did not know how it was going to turn out and to allow me the great privilege of being there in the room with them when they actually did connect. And that happened in 200 and 300 cases. And for me it was transformational personally because I was also seeking answers. I was also seeking to heal really from all the division and the hatred. So it really was transformative. People's reactions to the film really has been incredible. It has been like genuinely how do I say, I can't even put it in words. It's just, it's been so powerful how people have reacted to the film and it's made my entire experience worth it.
Juliana: When you stand there after a screening and you see people's hearts opening up, it is the reason why I did the film obviously. And you expect to have some sort of impact on people, but to really just see a shift in their perceptions, they tell me that, they were forced to listen as they were watching LIST(e)N. And that a part of them wanted to like debate and yell and kind of fight back with the other participant who was like, speaking on the screen and they couldn't, they had to listen. And I think that is such a powerful thing for people to witness because we're not used to that anymore. We can easily just, tune things down, not read the news we don't want to read, not frequent the Facebook group that we don't agree with. We are so good at only relating with those that believe what we believe and seeing the news versus that reflect those beliefs as well. And social media has only perpetuated that. So giving people a chance to hear and then not be able to respond or tune out is really so powerful because then they are made, they are forced to go through the process with the participants and see what ensues. And it turns out that it is a roller coaster of emotions, because at first you agree with the person that you agree with and then you disagree with the person that you disagree with and then you begin to see their progression through various encounters. And you begin to see how in like phase one it's only issues and they only talk issue. So there's no personal stories. Phase two is only about the personal stories and through arts they get to kind of exemplify why they believe what they believe, and they begin to connect. And what that does to the audiences, you begin to wonder, wow, like this person actually does have a story and wow, like the person who believes what I believe is actually showing kind of empathy and concern towards the other. So how interesting, am I able to do that?
Juliana: And then lastly what happens in the final scenario is, or the final phase is that they come together and they get to kind of assess where they stand and they get to either share something that they haven't shared or they get to speak more if it is that they want to, have debate something else or whatnot. And then there's the full connection, which oftentimes takes place through writing letters. And I have them write a letter to the other, to their counterparts where they acknowledge what they see in them that they can appreciate and there like the full connection happens. Because they realize that they have a lot more in common with the other. They realize that, there is, like they can appreciate the other for who they are as a person, independent of their beliefs. They realize that they can connect from the pain that they have each experience that is connected to the issues and it is no longer, you versus me, us versus them. But it's us, its I’m here for you from what you have experience and I am able to kind of delve deep in my heart and connect with you.
Marly Q: I have goosebumps and I’m sure that those listening do as well! I know that you are taking this on tour. You're not only able to have shared it at the Miami Film Festival in such a large platform with the community or the public at large. You're also going to high schools and universities across the nation. You're creating these, personal encounters and events. So tell us a little bit about that.
Juliana: Yeah, I’m excited about that. So basically what happened is I produce LIST(e)N, in the process I realized that listening was the answer that I had been looking for myself. I was like, wow, those who actually were able to connect at a human level and proceed with the encounters and end encounters where those who listen to each other. So that led me to title the film, LIST(e)N and it also led me into this journey of learning more about listening and the power of listening. And I talked to coaches and kind of PhDs who have researched listening and who apply listening across different fields from business to medicine. And it really was enlightening. And I thought, well, the mission really has expanded from a film to kind of taking the power of listening, and the importance of listening to heal our divides and to be better humans across the country. And I started with universities and I was able to go on tour. I went to Northwestern, since I went to Northwestern. So I started off there and then I was also able to go to Ohio State University and at FIU, Florida International University, and while I was doing like, kind of a version of the tour, which was a screening and some talks about listening, I realized that there was something bigger and that there was a need for this as well. So then I put together a formal kind of program that's called LIST(e)N Courageously and I’ve been in talks with multiple schools about launching that big program across the us. Ohio State University was the first university to confirm, they wanted us back with the full program and we had an April 14th date... so, of course coronavirus came along and that got postponed.
Marly Q: Wiped out all of our events! But this does not wipe out the cause and the mission and the project. Absolutely not. That is awesome. Congratulations! This has grown on its own and isn't that the beautiful thing about when we step courageously into our mission and our passion and what our heart's calling and desire is. That it might start as a film, it might start as an event. It might start as a podcast. And in the process of doing it, of living that cause, of doing what we're asking others to do, that it transforms and magnifies into something way bigger than we could have ever imagined. I see that happening for LIST(e)N Courageously, for your program. I think that anyone listening that's associated with a high school or university that is interested in connecting with you and learning more. How can they do that?
Juliana: Thank you, Yes. So the website is www.listencourageously.org. We formed the project as part of an NGO so it's under 501(c)3 status because we decided that we wanted to take this not only to universities who could actually pay for it and high schools but also to underrepresented communities. High schools that don't have the funds for this who still need it. So we are excited to be in this mission. So that would be the best way, www.listencourageously.org and then on social media we can be found @listen.documentary.
Juliana: And just to go off from what you said about like being committed to a cause and putting all your energy into it and saying like I feel alive when I do this and this gives me mission and purpose and this is the way, it's amazing how everything flows when you're aligned with that purpose and with that mission. And oftentimes we get in the way of that. So it's been an amazing process to allow that to flourish and to be able to listen. Also in times when perhaps I was too busy and too divided with consulting for discovery and doing stuff for other networks. And it's been really nice to stop also and say, “am I listening to myself and am I giving this kind of the wings it needs so that it can go and flourish on its own”?
Marly Q: Beautiful. I think that is one incredibly important and essential way to PARK for ourselves is listening to ourselves and what we truly want, what we truly desire, what our mission and calling is in life. And for some people, maybe some people listening are still looking for that. You don't know what the big purpose is. And I think in just following that, what spark of your interests and what sparks your curiosity. And I think in following that, following that spark, following your heart, you get that answer. Like you said, it was through listening that you realize that this is much bigger than a film. That this is something that you need to create a formal program for it and offer it in a big way. So that's just so inspiring to me. I knew that you were a superhero the moment that we connected, not only are you a super mom of two making time for this podcast in the middle of our quarantine but I truly honor and respect how you believe that there's always Time to be Kind and NOW is the Time to be Kind more than ever. And I think that your film just gives us the opportunity to do that, to make more Time to be Kind to others. So I thank you.
Juliana: No. Thank you. I just feel that we have been so disconnected from our inner voices and from each other, not to mention from the planet, but in connection to LIST(e)N really like hatred was at its max in our country. And it is funny that we were deciding to self-isolate by being in our silos and guess what? Here we are. Exactly.
Marly Q: The world is speaking to us and each person needs to listen. And this time of quarantine or this time of pause and reflect, I truly hope that people are listening to themselves and each other and not just the noise or the fear-mongering or, yeah, basically the noise that's out there, truly listening to what is this trying to teach us. What is this trying to move us into? And in all of the disconnection or perceived disconnection, I think that this is teaching us that we are more connected than we realize or that we acknowledge. And I think that your film gives us the opportunity to see real true connection as mankind, even if you have completely opposing viewpoints.
Juliana: That's right. And that we're one like, for once we're able to really understand the meaning of that. Something that happens so far away in China can have this impact across the globe and we are all made to go through quarantine and do the same and nothing else matters. Like you can't get away from this. Like no matter how much money you have, how prestigious you are. Like we're all in this together. So like I think we can finally sense the unity, and I don't think that's ever, I mean, not in our lifetime it hasn't happened. Maybe other pandemics in the past have had this impact. But it is eye opening and heart opening. And like you said, I do hope that people take this time to reflect and maybe to even write on paper, so they don't forget. Once this is lifted, once we go back to our daily routines what is it that we take away from this and how is it that we can be better human beings? And what is it that we want to change in our lives moving forward? What have we realized from this, and how can we be more connected.
Marly Q: And really taking the time not just to ask those questions and reflect on them, but to truly , and from a deep place of listening, I think sparks the action and our world is definitely shifting us into change, into transformation and into action. And it will be positive action if we all take the time to listen to ourselves, each other and the world. Juliana Tafur: Let's hope we do.
Marly Q: Let's hope so! Juliana, thank you so much again for making the Time to be Kind today. We appreciate you so much and sending you a virtual hug. Juliana Tafur: Oh, thank you Marly. Virtual hugs to you. Thank you for the work that you do for spreading kindness and for gathering a community of people who are like-minded and who are putting their best selves out there every day of their lives.
Marly Q: There's no doubt you're a PARKer who listens and I hope this interview inspired you to listen more courageously to yourself, of people you interact with and the world. To learn more about the film, LIST(e)N, visit, www.listencourageously.org and follow on Instagram and Facebook @ listen.documentary to stay connected with film screenings coming soon in a city near you.!
Interested in sponsoring Time to be Kind with Marly Q.?
Click here for PARKnership Opportunities