In September 2008, Shaun Poust, then a freshman at Ithaca College, volunteered to help out with ICOA’s Voices of Freedom event, which that year welcomed the group’s new writer-in-residence, Irakli Kakabadze. Something about the work of ICOA and Irakli Kakabadze’s story caught Shaun’s imagination, and three years later, in October 2011, he was back at Voices of Freedom. This time he brought with him Thad Komorowski, another IC journalism major, and a full complement of video equipment. Their goal was a short documentary that would examine the mission of ICOA and convey the spirit of the writers the group brings to Ithaca.
Shaun delivered the finished product, a video co-produced with Thad, on a DVD to Barbara Adams, associate professor in the Ithaca College Department of Writing and a member of the IOCA board of directors. Barbara was the students’ liaison with ICOA and helped them coordinate their work with ICOA activities. What Barbara and ICOA can now share with the Ithaca community is a polished eleven-minute production that offers interviews of three of the writers ICOA has supported––Yi Ping, Sarah Mkhonza, and Irakli Kakabadze. They talk about their lives, their work, and the experience of coming to Ithaca from places where they were not welcome, where they were threatened and harassed and their work was thwarted.
Even those who are very familiar with or involved in ICOA will gain surprising insight from the Poust-Komorowski documentary. Shaun Poust said himself, “The whole process was very surprising. I knew these writers had dynamic personalities and compelling stories, but the video turned out to be more visually interesting than I expected.” One of the things he discovered is how much of a documentary happens on the fly. “You learn things interviewing people that you didn’t expect to learn. What you thought wasn’t going to be interesting turns out to be very interesting. After the fact, you look at your material and you say, ‘Here is where our story is.'”
The ICOA board of directors invites you to share in our story that is so well captured by Shaun and Thad. You can view it online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLgbULI8_Eg