"See Yourself in Others" - Tribeca Film Festival - Directed by Jared Knecht

Watch this stunning illustration of religious peacemaking from Tribeca Film Festival

A Hasidic Jewish man approaches a Muslim man on the streets of New York City. It sounds like the opening line to an inappropriate joke, but it's actually a scene in a campaign put out by Tribeca Film Festival called "See Yourself in Others." The stunning one-minute short film, which is posted below, features a diverse group of people walking around Manhattan wearing mirrored boxes on their heads to make the point that peacemaking begins when we learn to empathize with "the other."

I was so impressed by this provocative short that I tracked down the director, Jared Knecht. Still in his twenties, he has already compiled an impressive resume with clients ranging from Redbull to Victoria's Secret, and Compassion International to Crossway. Knecht's short film "Skumaskot," shot on location in Iceland, was a selection at last year's Cannes Film Festival. (It's stunning, and you should watch it too.)

Here we discuss the imagery featured in this campaign and why he believes society is failing to foster empathy.

RNS: Tell me about the mirrored boxes as a symbol. What did you hope to accomplish with this image?

JK: Movies kind of resemble mirrors. Living through someone else for two hours and seeing the world as they do is how I fell in love with film. The mirror boxes were a fun idea to make that experience literal. It provoked a curious interaction with the hope to literally see yourself through the eyes of someone else.

RNS: Where is society failing right now in terms of empathy?

JK: I think we are innately selfish,and at times, scarcely sympathetic for others. There is a big difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy says, "I hate that you are going through that." Empathy says, " I've been there, and I know how you feel." In a world where we may not fully comprehend our differences, we are all the same. We have common ground. It's through our differences that we have the chance to get there.

RNS: The image at the end with the Hasidic Jewish man and Muslim man is particularly striking. Tell us about why you decided to portray that.

JK: Inherently, we are saying whoever adorns the mirror box is deserving of empathy. So I wanted the spectrum to cover everyone. Socially and politically, it has been a divisive year. We wanted to portray each side as best we could, covering some polarizing issues. The Muslim man and Hasidic Jew was representative of our religious differences. I hope the tone of the film illustrates that their isn't a cookie cutter answer per se, but as these two New Yorkers demonstrate, we can confront each other and confront ourselves.

RNS: Which faith tradition did you come from, and how does that tradition inform your understanding of what it means to see yourself in others?

JK: Regardless of where I came from, I think everyone is searching for coherence and purpose in life. Right there, that's common ground. But I grew up in Christianity. One thing that stood out to me is that when God forgives us, he is basically saying his own rules don't matter. That he values a relationship more. When religion is paramount, we lack empathy. When relationships are paramount, we find empathy.

RNS: If you learn to see yourself in another, the work has just begun. You must then learn to respect, to serve, to love them as well. How do you think people can begin making the leap?

JK: I did a little side experiment while shooting where we interviewed each participant. I asked them questions like, "What is your greatest joy in life?" and "What is your greatest loss?" and "What makes a hero?" Though we gathered a wildly diverse group of people, everyone's answers were very similar and profound. My favorite and personal takeaway was everyone's definition of hero. Most said something like, "a hero is someone who acts courageously at the cost of himself or herself in service of someone else." These are the stories i'm interested in, and that I think Tribeca is interested in. And hopefully we can encourage others to stop and think differently about our differences.

Comments

  1. ” One thing that stood out to me is that when God forgives us, he is basically saying his own rules don’t matter. ” Christ’s rules mattered enough that he was ridiculed, scourged, beaten, slapped, had his beard pulled out, had his feet and hands nailed to a cross where He could hardly breathe until He died, so we could be forgiven. He took our sins on Himself. His “rules” mean a lot to Him.

    More than relationships, God wants obedience.

  2. I would rather say the Christ fulfilled the Love your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength by his obedience on the cross as the innocent yearling for all passover that who ever believe will have eternal life. The religious works from their self righteousness and the redeemed work only by Christ righteousness. That is why He said seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, not your righteousness. Only His righteousness can coat you from all these fiery arrows from all these religious Cainesman. Have you wondered why all these sex scandals most frequently happen in ALL these religion houses of all religions in all times?

  3. I can believe you did those things to Him-figuratively.
    Caused those things literally.
    Do you?

  4. Our sins caused those things GJ. He had to die, so that we could be forgiven because we serve a righteous God who is just. There had to be a punishment for the sin. Christ took it upon Himself.
    Do I believe this happened literally, yes.

  5. What does obedience to God more than relationship to God look like?

  6. Just my opinion here, GJ – I have no scripture on relationships – other than Born Again – but, come to think of it, yes I do…..if I can find it.
    Zachariah 8 :7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;
    8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.”
    Also:
    John 15:15 – English Standard Version
    No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
    But, He is still the Master.
    Also:
    Luke 12:7 – English Standard Version
    Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
    That is the relationship.

    This is obedience.

    John 14:15 ESV
    “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
    Luke 6:46 ESV
    “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
    Romans 6:16 ESV
    Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
    Matthew 7:21 ESV
    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
    James 1:22 ESV
    But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
    Isaiah 1:19 ESV
    If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;

    I hope this makes some sense…..help me out if you can.
    The first time I saw the Zachariah in this light, I just about cried it affected me so much. He’s amazing!

  7. I would say…Matthew 22:36 Jesus is asked by some pretty serious commandment keepers what the most important one is. The next verse gives us His answer, v.37 “Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your mind.” He then gives the the 2nd greatest commandment and states it this way. “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
    So for me I read all the verses you posted on obedience in the context of the two greatest commandments as Jesus saw them. Being obedient to please God doesn’t necessarily get my neighbors loved. But apparently loving my neighbors pleases God. On that same note, I don’t think Christ died on a cross 2000 years ago and he’s been pissed off about it ever sense. That would be obedience to God, but not a goodexample of what loving a neighbor would look like. I don’t say that to make a claim that nothing angers God. I say that because who would approach an angry dog, much less a angry God.
    The love of the Son for his Father, the love of the Son for his friends lead to His obedience. His obedience lead to his friends obedience. His obedience wasn’t a check off list, mine shouldn’t look like one either. That’s how I see it anyway.

  8. “When religion is paramount, we lack empathy.”

    Why is this an illustration of “religious peacemaking?” This guy is hostile to religion.

  9. smiles….you made me laugh with “I don’t think Christ died on a cross 2000 years ago and he’s been pissed off about it ever sense.” lol…..He seemed to be all right when he met them on the seashore and in the upper room……smiles….
    Jesus said to love Him, follow His commands….if that adds anything.
    I think loving others as ourselves would be bringing them to the reality of Christ’s love for them and the Great Commission – also in obedience to Christ.
    Just a thought with my first cup of coffee for the morning; blessings.

  10. I find this to be a disconnect in my own life sometimes-because I believe I’m commanded to love others, I always do. What I mean by that is, I know that an act like, going to church, doesn’t mean I love God, but if I love God I’m going to do a thing like attend a church. So l find myself in these places in life where I have to ask myself. Are you “loving others” or are you just “going to church”? Are we living love or are we just preaching it? We should be asking ourselves these questions because the world’s expectation of us is the answer they experience.

  11. I stopped living for the world a long time ago; I think. I place scripture wherever I can – because it will help them at some point, and because that is God’s love.
    I go to church because I love Jesus and honestly want to learn more about Him. We have an excellent pastor. Before we changed churches a few years ago, I went to church, I think, because I was supposed to. Now, I’ve developed a real thirst for the word that church satisfies.
    God’s word never comes back void.

    I’d rather offend someone into Heaven, than flatter someone into Hell. – anonymous

  12. Q. Who holds the keys to heaven and hell?
    A. Anonymous
    Comment: I hope Annonymous isn’t flattered by this but somehow finds it offensive.

  13. Is there something inbetween flattery and offensiveness?

  14. Do you believe in religious rules or do you have a relationship with God?
    Christianity in a nutshell believes:
    Religion = Do (to gain favor with God)
    Christianity = Done (Jesus did what was necessary to gain favor with God). What Jesus did created an option to sin and repent, rather than sin and die. That’s what I think is meant by
    “…when God forgives us, he is basically saying his own rules don’t matter. That he values a relationship more. When religion is paramount, we lack empathy. When relationships are paramount, we find empathy.”

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