Community News

Tradition, Trauma, & Tenderness Documentary Premiere set for July 14th

April 16, 2023 |

Pictured above: Alex Simmons, right, documentary cinematographer at the Faithkeepers Montessori Language Nest in Steamburg. In the film, the boy is showing Simmons a book he illustrated and wrote in the Seneca language.

The CREATE Project is pleased to present the premier of “Tradition, Trauma, & Tenderness,” at Gowanda’s Historic Hollywood Theater on Friday, July 14. Free and open to the public, the 90-minute film will begin at 7:30 p.m. A reception in the theater’s lobby will follow. All are welcome.

Tradition, Trauma, & Tenderness” tells the story about an individual, a family, a community, and culture, along with a multitude of diverse cultures.

Each is impacted by various traumas and each gathers strength and resilience from their community and the traditions that sustain them. The film reveals the universal experience of trauma. It also recognizes the fact that each trauma has a particular shape and impact on those facing it. Attention is paid to marginalized communities whose suffering of trauma has been historically overlooked, including the experiences of children.

Directed and executive produced by Valerie Walawender, videographed and edited by Alex Simmons, the documentary explores traditions and trauma touched by people and cultures from across the globe. The film features Native American tradition-bearers Bill Crouse, Sandy Dowdy, Kari Kennedy, Hunter Skye, Rhylee Hoag, Peter Jones, and Mike Jones; as well as insights from psychologist Dr. Darryl Tonemah and neuroscientist Dr. Audrey Hager.

Everyday moments and heart-warming traditions dance across the screen: tender family dinners; Polish Polka dance, Greek Yassou; Puerto Rican folk song, Kwanza, Jewish bar mitzva, Swedish midsummer pole decorating; Native American storytelling, music, food.

In contrast, images of natural disasters, abuse, disease, genocide, slavery, poverty, and war, reveal trauma coming from all directions throughout history.

Adults and children share how close family connection and community support helped them survive events in their lives that caused great harm. They describe how their traditions strengthen them to carry on in a spirit of hope.

Perspectives from psychology and neuroscience point to individual healing and the prevention of trauma, through the passing on of traditions in tender, nurturing environments. The film is hoped to contribute to public awareness concerning how traditions and tenderness can serve as an antidote and preventative measure to suffering caused by trauma.

This film was produced with funding from Arts Services, Inc. and Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The CREATE Project board of directors — Mary Miller, Carol Ludwig, Landon Gray, Rebecca Warren, and Makayla Santiago Froebel — gratefully acknowledges a multitude of volunteers, agencies, and others who contributed to the making of this film including: The city of Dunkirk, Faithkeepers Montessori Language Nest, Warrior Flight Team, Clymer Central School, Native American Consortium, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Health Tapestry Program, Lori DeCarlo (Restorative Circles), Dunkirk Public Library, and others.


Check out the Trailer for Tradition, Trauma, & Tenderness here: