Over the past century, cultural destruction has wrought catastrophic results around the globe, but the war against culture is by no means over—if anything, it's been steadily increasing. The push to protect, salvage, and rebuild has moved in step with the destruction. Legislation and policy have played a role, but heroic individuals have consistently fought back, sometimes risking or losing their lives to protect not just other human beings, but their cultural identity—to save the record of who they are.
Based on the acclaimed book by Robert Bevan, The Destruction of Memory includes interviews with UNESCO Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, representatives of the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, as well as diverse and distinguished international experts. Their voices combine to create a compelling film that seeks to address this complex and urgent issue.
A short question-and-answer with filmmakers and experts will follow the 85-minute film.
Bonnie Burnham, president and chief executive of the World Monuments Fund, joined the organization as executive director in 1985 and was named president in 1996. The World Monuments Fund is a New York-based non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting endangered ancient and historic sites around the world.
Burnham, who holds degrees in art history from the University of Florida and the Sorbonne, previously served as executive director of the International Foundation for Art Research. She has been honored as a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, is a Distinguished Alumna of the College of Fine Arts of the University of Florida, and is the first recipient of its Beinecke-Reeves Distinguished Achievement Award in Historic Preservation. She received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Florida Southern College in 2009.
Burnham has served on the boards of the National Institute of Conservation and the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation. She is currently on the board of the New York Studio School, a Trustee of the Butler Fund for the Environment, and a member of the United States Commission for UNESCO and the Board of Advocates, College of Design, Construction and Planning, University of Florida.
Joshua David, Co-Founder and former President of New York’s Friends of the High Line, will succeed retiring WMF President Bonnie Burnham on November 2, 2015. David joins WMF after helping turn an abandoned portion of the former New York Central Railroad in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood into the High Line, a 1.43 mile elevated public park that has become a model of restoration and modern design. David’s leadership and fundraising efforts have transformed the park into an international attraction and spurred the economic revitalization of the surrounding area.
Patty Gerstenblith is a distinguished research professor of law at DePaul University and director of its Center for Art, Museum & Cultural Heritage Law. She is founding president of the Lawyers Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (2005-2011), a director of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield and senior advisor to the ABA's Art and Cultural Heritage Law Committee. In 2011, she was appointed by President Obama to serve as the chair of the President's Cultural Property Advisory Committee in the U.S. Department of State, on which she had previously served as a public representative in the Clinton administration. From 1995 to 2002, she was editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Cultural Property. Her publications include the casebook, Art, Cultural Heritage and the Law(now in its second edition), and her articles "Controlling the International Market in Antiquities: Reducing the Harm, Preserving the Past," published in the Chicago Journal of International Law, "Schultz and Barakat: Universal Recognition of National Ownership of Antiquities," published in Art Antiquity and Law, and "Protecting Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflict: Looking Back, Looking Forward," published in the Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal.
Katharyn Hanson, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Cultural Heritage Center and a Visiting Scholar in the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She works as an archaeologist specializing in the protection of cultural heritage. Katharyn received her doctorate from the University of Chicago with a dissertation entitled: Considerations of Cultural Heritage: Threats to Mesopotamian Archaeological Sites. She has curated museum exhibits and published on damage to ancient sites in Iraq and Syria. Her research combines archaeology, remote sensing, and cultural heritage policy. She recently served as the Program Director for the Archaeological Site Preservation Program at the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil, Iraq and as the secretary for the US Committee of the Blue Shield.
Since 1985, Andras J. Riedlmayer has been bibliographer, in charge of the Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, at the Fine Arts Library, Harvard University.
A native of Budapest, Hungary, he was educated in Germany and the United States. His academic involvement with Bosnia began 27 years ago when he wrote his senior thesis (A.B., History, University of Chicago) on "Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Congress of Berlin." He holds graduate degrees from Princeton University (M.A., Near Eastern Studies) and Simmons College (M.S., Library and Information Science).
He spent several years engaged in research and travel in the Middle East and the Balkans as a Fulbright Scholar in the 1970's, working in archives and manuscript libraries. He has published articles dealing with Ottoman history, Islamic architecture, and the study of manuscript sources, in journals such as Muqarnas: An Annual of Islamic Art and Architecture, Art Libraries Journal, The Turkish Studies Association Bulletin, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin and Harvard Ukrainian Studies.
On April 4, 1995, he testified on cultural destruction at a Congressional hearing on genocide in Bosnia. Along with several academic colleagues, he has recently launched an international project to track down and gather together microfilm copies of some of the unique manuscripts and documents that went up in flames when libraries and archives in Sarajevo, Mostar and other towns in Bosnia were burned down by nationalist extremists in 1992-93.
Tim Slade is an Australian born film and television director, who works primarily on documentaries or factual films. His films have screened theatrically, at film festivals and on broadcast television in the UK, Europe, Asia, the United States, South America as well as in Australia.
Cori Wegener, M.A., M.A. (OUSHAC) serves the Smithsonian as Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer where she specializes in disaster risk reduction, armed conflict mitigation, and cultural recovery of arts and artifacts. She is the president and founder of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, which supports The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954).
Andras Riedlmayer of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture and Tim Slade, Director of the film The Destruction of Memory, point out the importance of accounting for the destruction of tangible artifacts when addressing genocides.