In March I was sitting in a room with other Make-A-Wish volunteers for a special training session. As I have recently stated when I meet people that ask what I do it frequently starts a conversation. Next to me was a UCLA student and sorority member so I mentioned that I spoke on her campus last year for the Clothesline Project & Speak Out event for Take Back the Night. We briefly chatted about her school campus, my impressions after visiting and speaking there then I handed her my card. During the break another volunteer approached me to say he overheard what I did and told me his wife was working on a movie project in which the lead character was sexually assaulted. He asked if I would speak to her further about my story to which I responded 'of course' and we exchanged cards.
Within a few days Justine and I began an email correspondence discussing our backgrounds the path to my speaking career and how she came to write and develop the movie 2000 Vinyasas. We then set up a time to meet and discuss a collaboration. I also sent her a few questions ahead of the meeting because I wanted to spread the word about this unique movie.
This taken directly from the project website "2000 Vinyasas is the story of a young woman's transformation and awakening through the power of yoga. After a devastating sexual assault, Vanessa loses everything but learns that true recovery and true love are possible when her focus shifts from what she needs to what she can do for others." This movie, although not an exact account, is similar to Justine's story of sexual assault and healing through Yoga. After the assault she confided in her mother who found the best counselor in NYC so Justine could begin intensive therapy and work towards healing. She continued and completed her counseling after a year and a half. At the same time she was also participating in intense physical workouts including triathalons but decided to transition into yoga as her counseling began to wrap up. Almost immediately and like a revelation Justine realized yoga was what she needed all along and began to study the practice of yoga. She describes a peaceful moment when the story came to her all at once and went home to write it in just 2 days.
The course to develop this movie was atypical. The first time Justine heard the script read aloud was very emotional for her and didn't like the way it sounded so put it aside to forgot about it, until she met her now partner Jeff Caldwell while working together as leads in the play Arsenic & Old Lace. They became fast friends and while Jeff was taking a writing class he asked if she had anything so she decided to hand over the script which he actually loved. Their partnership began then leading to the development of the movie 2000 Vinyasas. It's been a whirlwind ever since including a fundraising campaign and their tireless work to find additional backing to get the movie made. Justine explained to me If that doesn't happen within the next few months they will move forward on their own independently.
Justine describes the process of writing the screenplay and everything that is involved with making the movie helps contribute to the ongoing healing process from her sexual assault. It forces her to be comfortable with saying it aloud and when it's not in her own voice it's through the voice of the actor playing Vanessa. As a victim of sexual assault I can relate to how difficult it is to say the words aloud and the lengthy process involved in getting to that point where you can say it easily.
Finally, Justine felt it important to add the movie also serves to enlighten the industry and the public that the subject of sexual assault should not be so taboo that it can't be the topic of a feature film. There are television shows and movies that use rape in their story lines for entertainment and voyeuristic purposes and that is acceptable but the lead character based upon a real woman's sexual assault is not good for mass market appeal. This movie enlightens the moviegoer by how complicated the recovery process is for victims of sexual assault.
More information about the movie, the project and becoming a supporter can be found through the website link below.