Faithkeepers Producer Paula Kweskin: Exclusive Interview

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We spoke with the Producer of Faithkeepers Paula Kweskin to ask her why she’s so excited about her latest movie, which premieres on May 23. It brings much needed attention to the horrific persecution faced by Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.

Clarion Project: What is the goal of Faithkeepers?

Paula Kweskin: We would like to awaken the Christian community and all people of conscience to understand and be empowered to take action on behalf of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East who are experiencing genocide. We feel there is a real lack of information and this is first and foremost a film to educate people and wake them up about this humanitarian crisis.


What efforts is the U.S. government doing to protect Christians in the Middle East and is it enough?

Congress has taken a number of steps to protect Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. House Concurrent Resolution 75, which passed the House of Representatives in March 2016, correctly states “the atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” The bill is currently awaiting passage through the Senate but if passed it will push the U.N. and other international bodies, working with U.S. leadership, to establish war crimes tribunals for ISIS leaders and take other more robust steps to tackle ISIS. There are other proposed bills, including one which would expedite the asylum process for Christians and other minorities fleeing ISIS persecution.

In addition, President Trump has increased the number of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS and earlier this year he gave Defense Secretary Mattis the authority to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria. This means the U.S. military has the freedom to commit the forces it needs to eliminate ISIS, working with local partners on the ground.


Faithkeepers team on set.
Paula on filming duties with Micah Smith and Sasha Gorev. (Photo: Faithkeepers)


What action can people take?

We have a three-pronged call to action: Awareness, advocacy, and aid. Visit our website for more information on how exactly to help.

Awareness: Spread the word by posting the trailer on your Facebook page or sending it to family and friends – each one of has the capacity to do that and awareness leads to action.

Advocacy: Speak to elected officials and make sure they are engaged on the issue and are supporting steps to end the genocide and help these communities.

Aid:  We are collecting funds to distribute to selected charities and organizations in the region doing critical work on the ground.

Visit www.faithkeepersfund.com to donate


What needs to be done to help Christians and other minorities who are now returning to villages and towns that were devastated by ISIS?

First and foremost there has to be strong security in place. But we can’t just protect them, we also have to help them rebuild. Right now they’re going back to destroyed churches and homes and are in a terrible situation. We need to give them the support to restore their devastated communities, whether that is politically, economically or in other ways. But I don’t think it will be possible for them to return unless there is a strong effort from the international community to assist them, not just in the short term but in the long term.


What do you say to people who say the United States has already wasted too much blood and treasure in the Middle East and that it’s not our problem to fix?

This is a humanitarian mission that goes beyond any one country. I see a genocide happening and I feel compelled to act. Minorities in the Middle East are a stabilizing and moderating force in the region.  

A strong, peaceful and diverse Middle East is definitely in America’s interests.


Faithkeepers premiers on May 23. Watch the trailer now:

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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