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Extending the Link receives award at Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival

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November 6, 2015

By Annie Dittberner '17

CSB students Megan Towle (left) and Diana Elhard smile as they hold their trophy October 24.

Photo courtesy of ETL

Extending the Link's seventh documentary film, "Ger Kler: A Journey of Untold Strength," received the Official Selection for the Best Short Films Award at the Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival (GWIFF) Oct. 24.

The GWIFF is an annual film festival that aims to connect faces and human stories with the politics and statistics behind immigration.

College of Saint Benedict seniors Megan Towle and Diana Elhard traveled to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 22-25 to present the film. ETL is a nonprofit, student-run venture at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University started in 2007 by students at CSB and SJU.

"Ger Kler," which was released in 2014, spotlighted refugee issues, both in the United States and abroad, on the Karen population, a group of people who live on the border of Burma (also known as Myanmar) and Thailand as a result of a drawn out civil war and genocide. ETL chose this topic because of the misunderstanding surrounding refugees and because of the large Karen population that lives in the Twin Cities.

"Ger Kler aims to document the lives of Karen refugees living in camps across the country and in Minnesota," said Towle, co-director of ETL. "We wanted to raise awareness on the challenges they face in both locations. We believed the story of Karen refugees coming from Thailand and resettling in Minnesota was very applicable to the mission of the GWIFF, and we were thrilled to present our film alongside other activists using film to create social change."

The students presented the film alongside six other short films and other documentaries.

"Being able to share the stage with other students and professionals who have chosen to use film as their medium to communicate their stance on social justice issues reminded us of our own mission and inspired us to continue creating documentaries and challenging the status-quos here on our campuses," Towle said.

The film also was one of four student production teams who earned a Student Production Crystal Pillar Award from the Upper Midwest Emmy® Chapter/Foundation in the College Non-Fiction category in April 2015.

This year, six ETL team members will travel to Rwanda over winter break to film its upcoming documentary on women in agriculture. Throughout the spring semester, the team will edit and produce the film and premiere it in April on campus.