HUMAN SHIELD FILM - Kimberley Farley

05/10/04

On Friday night in Sarasota, the Southwest Florida Peace Coalition sponsored a screening of the short documentary “Human Shield.� It has currently been screened at over 20 film festivals around the nation, and won best short documentary at the Tampa Bay Film Festival. Filmmaker Debra Hussong and former human shield Ryan Clancy were among those in attendance. WMNF’s Kimberley Farley files this report.

The film centers on the experiences of Faith Fippinger, who was a human shield in Iraq, and Sarah Joffe, whose son Benjamin Joffe-Walt was a shield.

The human shield movement began to garner attention when double-decker buses left England and drove around Europe picking up people volunteering to go to Iraq. It was hoped that by having Western civilians in key areas, the Coalition would be less likely to bomb there. Former shield Ryan Clancy is 26 years old and owns an independent music store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He met these buses in Italy. (SB 1, OQ …deposing somebody) Filmmaker Debra Hussong was working on another film when someone told her about the experiences of Faith Fippinger. After doing some research on her own and interviewing Faith, Hussong realized she had another film to make. (SB 2, OQ …change it slightly)

Fippinger, who is a 62 year-old retired school teacher and lives in Sarasota, spent three months living in and becoming part of the community in Iraq. (SB last, OQ …on my mind) She returned last April to find a letter from the Treasury Dept informing her that she had violated US sanctions by crossing the border and spending money in Iraq. She has been fined $10,000 and could face up to twelve years in prison. To date, the Treasury Dept has not made any further moves to prosecute her.

She is, however, currently serving a 3 month long prison sentence for trespassing at Fort Benning, known formerly as the “School of the Americas,� during a protest. She is scheduled for release this July.

Her motives for going to Iraq were very similar to those of Clancy. Clancy was unable to be in Iraq when the bombs began to fall because he had to cross the border to get money and was not allowed back. Fippinger, however, was there when the bombs began to drop. According to the news, the bombing was to begin at around 4.30 in the morning. It wasn’t until after 5 that it started. (SB 4, OQ …was a death)

In the film, Sarah Joffe described her experiences of having a son who was a shield in Iraq. She credits him for getting involved in the anti-war movement and described what it was like to know he was there. (SB 3, OQ …it’s the same)

Ryan Clancy was also contacted by the Treasury Department in mid-April of last year to inform him that he too he was being fined $10,000 for violating sanctions. Unlike Fippinger, he was not sent a letter but received a phone call at 7 am. He’d finally been able to sleep at night so the phone call was, in his words, “an unwelcome reminder.� (SB 6, OQ …difficult to escape).

Anyone who is interested in future "HUMAN SHIELD" screenings, organizing a "HUMAN SHIELD" screening or finding out how Faith Fippinger is doing, can log on to: www.DAHfilm.com

For WMNF News, I’m Kimberley Farley

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