Ethan Downing will be our third panelist for Tuesday's event, offering insights learned through the course of his research on snakehead smuggling and child labor issues, and through his work on this film.

Ethan graduated from Fordham University in 2006 with an undergraduate degree in Philosophy. In 2010, he completed Columbia University's Masters Degree program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. His capstone thesis project focused on the snakehead smuggling networks and the people who travel through them. Walking Merchandise grew out of this  project, as a way to spread word about this issue to a larger audience.

His documentary credits also include work on the Uganda production team for the documentary feature Drinking From the Well. Narrative short film credits include "Adjudication" (co-director), and "The Shuffle." (actor, Eduardo).

In 2009, Lauren Burke was working as a Skadden Fellow at The Door, a youth services center in New York City. As a member of the legal department, and a fluent Mandarin speaker, she worked with a large number of Chinese adolescents on their immigration cases. It wasn't long before she started seeing a pattern in her clients' lives. They were being sent from China to the U.S. by their parents, with no choice but to work underage to pay off massive smuggling debts and to send money home to their families.

Lauren soon became an authority on this particular brand of trafficking, connecting with attorneys, social workers and organizations around the country in order to help these young persons in need.

In 2011, she formed Atlas: DIY, a cooperative empowerment center for immigrant youth and their allies. Later that year, she took a position as the first staff attorney at the New York Asian Women's Center.

Most recently, through Atlas: DIY, she has been leveraging the power of the web and social media to disseminate essential information to young persons who may be eligible to apply for Deferred Action. Atlas: DIY's videos on Deferred Action have accumulated over 43,100 views.

We're privileged to have had the opportunity to interview Lauren for this film, and look forward to her contributions to the panel discussion following the screening on October 23.

One of the goals for 'Walking Merchandise' has always been for it to be not only a compelling short film in its own right, but also to be a jumping off point for for productive conversations about child advocacy, labor and immigration issues. Our imagined best case scenario would be for interested persons to watch the film in a group environment, and be spurred on to discuss these issues or learn more about them after the final credits have rolled.

In that vein, the event on October 23rd has been structured to include not only the New York premiere of the film, but also a panel discussion with people working on immigration and child advocacy issues. We'll be posting information about each of the panelists as we approach the screening date.

Today we're pleased to announce that the panel will include Dr. Ted Perlmutter, Lecturer in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NECR) program at Columbia University. Dr. Perlmutter has a background in political science, immigration issues and sociology, and teaches a course on Conflict, Social Networks & Communications Technologies as part of the NECR curriculum.

Dr. Perlmutter has been a supporter of Walking Merchandise since it's early stages, having connected us with Jordanna Birnbaum Amsel, who contributed a number of posts for this blog, and having given us the opportunity to discuss the film with students at NYU and in Columbia's NECR program.

We're very pleased that Dr. Perlmutter will be joining us, and we look forward to his contributions to the panel discussion on the 23rd.

Dr. Ted Perlmutter

Ted Perlmutter is a Lecturer in the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University, where he teaches a course on "Conflict, Social Networks, and Communications Technology". He works as the Knowledge Management director of a Genocide Prevention Program (GPP) jointly sponsored by the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) at Columbia University. In the past, he worked at the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia as a Knowledge Management director, focusing on a serious of projects in Iraq related to internal displacement, civilian monitoring of electoral violence, and conflict assessment. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Wesleyan University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University. He has worked on immigration issues, teaching undergraduate courses on immigration politics and has published articles and book chapters on immigration in Italy and Germany.

His research in this area includes work with Suzette Brooks Masters on a Ford Foundation sponsored project entitled "Networking the Networks: Improving Information Flow in the Immigration Field."

We are thrilled to announce that Walking Merchandise has been officially accepted to the 2012 Artivist Film Festival. As the only film festival that is an official NGO member of the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN-DPI), Artivist is dedicated to raising awareness for human rights, children’s advocacy, environmental preservation, and animal advocacy through international films.  Check out the West Coast Premiere page.
From the Artivist website:
"The 9th Annual Artivist Film Festival & Artivist Awards will take place Thursday, November 1 through Sunday, November 4, 2012 at Barnsdall Theatre & Art Park in Hollywood, California.  This year’s festival will screen 31 international advocate films raising awareness for human rights, children’s advocacy, environmental preservation, and animal advocacy. Guest speakers include international filmmakers, community leaders, and representatives from prominent NGOs."
9th Annual Artivist Film Festival
November 3, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
Barnsdall Theatre & Art Park
Hollywood, California
Screening & Ticket Information