• 1/10/11

    Pushing the Elephant, the Inspirational Story of Rose Mapendo, Advocate For Peace and Reconciliation in the Congo

    “One person alone cannot push the elephant, but many people together can.” – Rose Mapendo

    (San Francisco, CA, January 10, 2011) — Rose Mapendo lost her husband and her home during the ethnic violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1990s, yet she emerged from the suffering advocating for forgiveness and reconciliation. But, after helping numerous victims recover and rebuild their lives, there is one person Rose must still teach to forgive: her daughter Nangabire. Pushing the Elephant captures one of the most important stories of our age, in which genocidal violence is challenged by the moral fortitude and grace of one woman’s mission for peace. Pushing the Elephant, directed and produced by Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel, premieres on the Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by America Ferrera, on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 10 PM (check local listings).

    When war came to Rose’s village, she was separated from her five-year-old daughter, Nangabire. Rose managed to escape with nine of her ten children, and was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. Over a decade later, mother and daughter are reunited in the U.S., where they must face the past and build a new future.

    We follow Rose and Nangabire over the course of two years as they make up for lost time. Rose struggles to find balance in her life as a mother of ten and a full-time advocate for refugees. Her speaking engagements have her traveling around the world, from the White House to the UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) in Geneva to grassroots meetings with survivors like herself in Congo. Meanwhile Nangabire, now 17, must adapt to America and discover how she fits into the sprawling Mapendo family. As mother and daughter get to know one another, they must come to terms with a painful past, and define what it means to be a survivor, a woman, a refugee, and an American.

    Through this intimate family portrait unfolding against the wider drama of war, the film explores the long term and often hidden effects of conflict on women and families, particularly those in traditional societies: financial despair, increased susceptibility to rape, and social ostracism.

    About the Filmmakers

    Beth Davenport (Director/Producer) has worked at Arts Engine, Inc. /Big Mouth Films in various capacities since 2003. Her positions have included production and outreach in television, commercials, and award-winning documentaries for P.O.V., Sundance Channel, BBC, and Arte France, as well as directing advocacy videos and short films. Her credits include the Emmy®-nominated film Deadline, Wrongful Death, and Election Day. Davenport is currently a producer at Arts Engine, Inc./Big Mouth Films and is producing Asexuality: The Making of a Movement, directed by Angela Tucker. Davenport was a mentor for the IFP Documentary Rough Cut Lab for three years and is a NYFA and a Jerome Fellow. She graduated with a degree in sociology and in peace and conflict resolution from Wayne State University.

    Elizabeth Mandel (Director/Producer) produced the film Arctic Son with Dallas Brennan Rexer. She was a co-producer on Jennifer Fox's Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman. She recently created a series of five educational and organizational videos for Jewish Women International, designed to heighten awareness around the issue of gender-based violence in the Jewish community. She is a 2008 NYFA Fellow and Jerome Fellow. Prior to joining Big Mouth in 2001, Mandel worked for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Mumbai, India, and for the United Nations and the Asia Foundation. She has also worked in Cambodia, Nepal, and Japan on a variety of women’s security and empowerment projects. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University in International Affairs and graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in religion and East Asian languages and cultures.

    Katy Chevigny (Producer), Arts Engine's co-founder and senior director, is a documentary filmmaker, entrepreneur, and nonprofit manager. For fifteen years, Chevigny has advocated for a diverse media culture, one that illuminates important stories and amplifies voices not often heard in the mainstream media. Chevigny founded Arts Engine and its predecessor Big Mouth Productions. As a film director, Chevigny most recently directed the film Election Day, which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in March 2007 and was broadcast on public television by POV in 2008. Chevigny also co-directed Deadline (2004), an Emmy®-nominated documentary about the dramatic events that took place in Illinois in 2003 concerning capital punishment. The film aired on NBC in July 2004, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and won a CINE Golden Eagle Grand Jury Award and the Thurgood Marshall Journalism Award. Chevigny has produced many award-winning documentaries at Arts Engine, including: Arctic Son, Journey to the West: Chinese Medicine Today, Nuyorican Dream, Innocent Until Proven Guilty, and Outside Looking In: Transracial Adoption in America.

    Angela Tucker (Producer/Sound) has worked at Big Mouth Films for the past seven years and is currently the Director of Production. She is directing the film Asexuality: The Making of a Movement and producing the film Dreaming Nicaragua. She was the associate producer, sound recordist, and outreach director for the Emmy®-nominated film, Deadline (shown on NBC’s Dateline). She was a consulting producer and field producer for Election Day (PBS’s POV) and a line producer for Beyond the Steps: The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (PBS's Great Performances). She directs and produces educational videos for nonprofit organizations such as ACORN Housing and GLSEN, in addition to producing spots for broadcasters such as Nickelodeon. She directed two shorts for The National Black Programming Consortium and ITVS’ Initiative, The Masculinity Project, entitled Invisible Men. She received an MFA in Film from Columbia University where she was awarded a grant from The Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Dean's Fellowship and a Milos Forman Finishing Fund Award. Tucker received her B.A. with honors from Wesleyan University in Theater and African-American Studies. She is a member of New York Women in Film and Television.

    About Independent Lens Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about unique individuals, communities, and moments in history. Presented by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen.

    CONTACT Voleine Amilcar, ITVS 415-356-8383 x 244 Mary Lugo 770-623-8190 Cara White 843-881-1480

    For downloadable images, visit For the program’s companion website, visit

  • 9/14/10

    PBS Film Pushing The Elephant to be Highlighted at Congressional Briefing on Violence Against Women

    Featuring Remarks From Rose Mapendo, Survivor and Advocate From the Democratic Republic Of Congo; Actor and Amnesty International Spokesperson Samantha Mathis; and Paula Kerger, PBS President and CEO

    Washington, DC—(September 16, 2010)— Pushing The Elephant, a film supported by The Independent Television Service (ITVS), which brings independently produced, high-quality public broadcasting and new media programs to public television, is the centerpiece of a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill. In cooperation with Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois), and Ted Poe (R-Texas), the briefing will address global violence against women and girls through the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) (H.R. 4594/S.2982). A coalition of NGOs including Jewish Women International, Amnesty International, Care International, Family Violence Prevention Fund, Women Thrive Worldwide, Global AIDS Alliance, International Center for Research on Women, International Rescue Committee, and Refugees International have come together to host this event and raise awareness around this issue. The briefing will be held on Thursday, September 16 at 8:30 AM at the Rayburn House Office Building (Room B-340).

    The briefing will feature a 10-minute screening of Pushing The Elephant, a film by Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel. A co-production of ITVS and Arts Engine, Inc., the film will later premiere on the PBS series Independent Lens in March 2011. The screening will be followed by remarks from the film’s subject, Congolese refugee Rose Mapendo who will share her extraordinary story of suffering, survival, and escape from the genocidal war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in February 2000. Paula Kerger, president of PBS will also speak on the importance of the public media’s role in bringing new and underserved voices to the American people, raising awareness around global issues, and sparking informed dialogue.

    “ITVS’s mission is to create civic discourse through our programs and partnerships. Pushing The Elephant captures one woman’s remarkable story and reminds us of the resiliency of people everywhere who endure violence. We are honored that this film has already and will continue to foster dialogue around this global human-rights issue,” says Sally Jo Fifer, president and CEO of ITVS.

    Additional speakers include Ambassador (Ret.) George Ward, senior vice president for International Programs for World Vision; Ritu Sharma, president and co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide; and actor and Amnesty International Spokesperson Samantha Mathis.

    “Approximately one in three women worldwide is a victim of violence. This is an opportunity for the United States to place ending violence against women and girls among its highest priorities by setting an example and by serving as a catalyst for a long-term global commitment to ending violence against women. The I-VAWA invests in a safer future for women and I urge Congress to pass this bill now,” says Lori Weinstein, executive director of Jewish Women International.

    I-VAWA calls for a comprehensive piece of legislation that will integrate violence prevention in U.S. foreign policy and support innovative programs that have been shown to effectively reduce violence against women and girls. The legislation proposed by I-VAWA was developed by Amnesty International USA, Family Violence Prevention Fund, and Women Thrive Worldwide, with input from 40 international and 150 U.S.-based groups with relevant expertise. The bill was introduced in the House and Senate during the 110th Congress and received bipartisan support. Hearings were held in October 2009 by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and by Representative Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) in the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight. In February 2010, a bipartisan team including Senators Kerry, Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Representatives Delahunt, Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Janice Schakowsky (D-Illinois) re-introduced I-VAWA in the 111th Congress.

    ABOUT ITVS Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy® Award–winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 PM on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since ITVS’s inception in 1991, its programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing television audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. For more information about ITVS, visit

    ABOUT JEWISH WOMEN INTERNATIONAL Jewish Women International is the leading Jewish organization empowering women and girls through economic literacy, community training, healthy relationships education, and the proliferation of women’s leadership. Their innovative programs, advocacy, and philanthropic initiatives protect the fundamental rights of all girls and women to live in safe homes, thrive in healthy relationships, and realize the full potential of their personal strength. JWI is committed to supporting federal policy that protects all women from violence and is a leading advocate for the passage of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). For more information visit

    CONTACT Voleine Amilcar, ITVS 415-356-8383 x 244