chad m. weisman
By the time Daniel Karslake finished film school at the University of Southern California, he discovered that he didn’t much care for Hollywood. It was the two years he spent working as an intern in now-president Tom Becker’s office in the Chautauqua Foundation that would turn him in the direction of his first job raising money for City of Hope, a cancer research center. A brief stint working for PBS showed him that his love for fundraising could be combined with his talents as a filmmaker and storyteller.
Karslake’s most recent documentary, “Every Three Seconds,” professes his belief in humanity’s capacity to end world hunger. A preview of the film will be offered to Chautauquans this Sunday and Monday at 4 p.m. and again at 8 p.m. at Chautauqua Cinema.
The film traces the stories of five ordinary people from around the world that are taking the problem of global hunger into their own hands, showing that solutions to starvation are not lofty ideals floating on the horizon but tangible goals to be set and then met.
Gloria Henderson, one of the film’s subjects, has traveled to Chautauqua from her home in North Carolina to attend the preview. She works tirelessly with the Society of St. Andrew in Durham, N.C., a nonprofit organization that delivers fresh produce to the poor.
The film was born of the same spirit of generosity and goodwill that Henderson has employed in the fields of her home state, the spirit of giving that Karslake discovered during his youth in Chautauqua.
Karslake believes that the problem, though enormous in its complexity, is likewise enormous in its solvability.
The filmmaker bases his optimism upon his experience documenting the film’s subjects, normal citizens who have found untold success in their efforts to help others.
“There are a million movies focusing on what the big challenges are,” Karslake said. “This movie is about the individual and how individuals have actually found their way around all of that, rose above the noise and were able to stop being hopeless. … The movie is about the blinding potential of each of us to have an impact on the world, if more of us really believed in that and stepped into our power.”
The film details the ways in which the rise of social media and increasingly efficient forms of mass communication render the human capacity to do good an even simpler task. Josh Nesbit, for example, was working at a clinic in Malawi that served a region spanning a radius of 200 miles in every direction. The 100 volunteer health care workers in the clinic were forced to walk more than 100 miles to treat patients; by the time they arrived, they could not even be certain that they had the necessary medical materials.
“Josh got there and thought, ‘This is crazy,’ ” Karslake said. “ ‘There are new cell towers here, we should teach them how to text.’ He asked his fraternity brothers for old cell phones and used 100 donated phones to teach the 100 healthcare workers how to use the new software.” Thus began Hope Phones, a nonprofit that collects phones to advance health care in countries around the world, thus saving a significant number of lives. Nesbit spoke on this work from Chautauqua’s morning lecture platform in 2012.
Karslake is known internationally as the mind behind “For the Bible Tells Me So,” the critically acclaimed critique of the American Christian community’s treatment of homosexuals that he wrote, produced and directed.
Karslake presented a sneak preview of “For the Bible Tells Me So” at Chautauqua Cinema during the 2007 Season; it is only fitting that his most recent documentary project be previewed in the same place. Karslake credits the Institution with instilling in him his powerful creative drive.
“I’m a filmmaker absolutely because of Chautauqua,” he said. “I was taught at a very early age that you figure out your passion and go for it. That’s the sort of person Chautauqua attracts.”