Show 1

Thursday / 5-6:15p / The Big Idea

Our lives have become wildly sped up and are now dominated by the tyranny of urgency, but this opening show posits that it doesn’t have to be that way. Through his top-rated podcast, Rich Roll has spoken with scores of people who are the very best in their fields and, after numerous in-depth conversations, has learned the power of personal evolution and the importance of leading an examined life. Joining him is Ruthie Lindsey whose own personal journey is astonishing. Recovering from physical and emotional trauma led her to unexpected places that helped her realize the true depths or her wounds. She has dedicated her life to healing and sharing her story, so that others can find the beauty in their woundedness. Roll believes we need to commit to “a journey of self-inquiry and self-discovery where no one can tell you how to do your life,” which seems like a great way to start Original Thinkers.



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Rich Roll

Rich is a living testament to the power of personal transformation. At age 40, having overcome an addiction to alcohol that almost completely derailed his life, he found himself out of shape, overweight and in need of a major change in lifestyle. He switched to a 100% plant-based diet, lost 50 pounds and soon shocked the endurance world by achieving top finishes in grueling endurance races like the Ultraman World Championships, while garnering praise as one of the "25 Fittest Men in the World".

Rich now dedicates his life to exploring human potential with insight gleaned from top performers in worlds of ultra-endurance, wellness, business, culture and others. He shares these lessons of personal empowerment across his #1 best-selling memoir, a cookbook, speaking engagements and the wildly popular "Rich Roll Podcast".

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Ruthie Lindsey

At seventeen years old, Ruthie Lindsey was hit by an ambulance. The accident broke her neck and she was given a 5% chance of survival and a 1% chance of walking again. She beat the odds and left the accident behind her but seven years later, something changed and she became riddled with debilitating chronic pain. This left her bedridden for seven years. At the precipice of total breakdown, she decided to give up narcotics and choose life.

Ruthie’s extraordinary story urges us to unlearn the limiting stories of brokenness that we tell ourselves and embrace the wholeness, joy, and healing that lives inside all of us.

Ruthie Lindsey is a Nashville based speaker, traveling the world sharing her story of hope and healing. She is co-host of The Unspoken Podcast and is currently writing her memoir There I Am, The Journey From Hopelessness To Healing which will be published by Simon and Schuster in spring 2020.

Mr. Wash

Fulton Leroy Washington a.k.a. Mr. Wash won’t give up. After being wrongfully convicted of three nonviolent drug offenses, he was sentenced to life in prison. Remarkably, he taught himself to paint, a passion that helped him serve two decades behind bars before his sentence was commuted by President Obama. Now, he lives in Compton and is working to build a career as an artist. He is the subject of the short documentary, Mr. Wash and will speak in Show 1, A Tortoise’s Journey about the many iterations of his life




Mr. Wash

Directed by: Marisa Aveling

Runtime: 18 minutes

In 1997, Mr. Wash was given a mandatory life sentence for a non-violent drug offense, and in 2016 was set free by President Barack Obama. While in prison, Mr. Wash taught himself how to paint, crafting thousands of hyper-realistic artworks that told the stories he saw around him. This short documentary tells the inspiring story of Mr. Wash and his return home to his family in Compton, CA, making the case for creativity as an optimistic force against the backdrop of America's broken criminal justice system.

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Show 2

Friday / 11a-12:45p / The Big Idea

Horrors abound across the globe but somehow, in these challenging precincts, our own decency and kindness can still take a stand. Orlando Von Einsiedel is an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker (White Helmets 2016) and has focused his work on trying to “capture stories of hope from places that appear to be without any,” which is certainly an apt description for Lost and Found, the unforgettable short documentary he made for National Geographic. Nadia Naviwala is a researcher from Pakistan with the Wilson Center who has looked closely at her country’s deeply flawed education system, yet still finds there are people trying to fix this problem. Mac McKinney is featured in the series, “Secret Life of Muslims” by filmmaker Josh Seftel, and his stories are remarkable. McKinney came out of the military, alienated and angry with Muslims, planning to attack a local mosque. When he went to scout it, he was welcomed in as a brother, a reception that changed his life.



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Orlando von Einsiedel

Orlando von Einsiedel’s work takes him to some dark and difficult places but as he says, “I try to capture stories of hope from places that appear to be without any.” That’s work includes THE WHITE HELMETS, which follows the lives of a group of heroic Syrian civilian rescue workers that won an Oscar in 2016. Other films include the riveting conservation thriller, VIRUNGA and EVELYN, a deeply personal story about the loss of his brother to suicide. At Original Thinkers, he will be screening a series of shorts that he made with National Geographic, including the unforgettable Lost and Found, which will be a part of the Humanity Endures show.

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Yael Lavie

Yael Lavie is an Emmy-winning television producer and senior editor who worked for ABC News network for 14 years before returning to her home country of Israel to work for Sky News.

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Richard “Mac” McKinney

After 25 years as a Marine in the armed services, and several tours in the Middle East, Richard "Mac" McKinney came back to the U.S. filled with rage toward Muslims. In what he viewed as a final mission for his country, McKinney planned to blow up the mosque in his Indiana hometown. It was a fateful trip to that mosque -- where he was welcomed by the local Muslim community -- that changed the course of his life. In Turning Hate into Love, McKinney is going to tell us how he not only became a Muslim, but the leader of that very same mosque.  

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Nadia Naviwala

Nadia Naviwala investigates and writes about foreign assistance, civil society, and has done a particular deep dive into the state of education in Pakistan, having visited more than one hundred classrooms across the country. As a part of Show 2, Humanity Endures, she will talk about the largest school system in the world and how to make public education work so it serves everyone, especially women.

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Joshua Seftel

Joshua Seftel is a filmmaker who has worked in documentary, and fiction and has contributed his essays to NPR, This American Life and CBS Sunday Morning. His new series, Secret Lives of Muslims is working to build bridges between Jews and Muslims in the U.S. and will be part of the Humanity Endures show at Original Thinkers.



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Secret Life of Muslims: Richard McKinney

Directed by: Josh Seftel 
Runtime: 5 minutes

After serving in the Middle East for the Marines, Mac McKinney came home to the US, angry with Muslims and planned to bomb a mosque in Muncie, Indiana. After going to an Islamic Center, he was given a Koran, which changed his life, sending him on a new path where he actually converted and became Muslim. 

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Lost and Found

Directed by: Orlando von Einsiedel
Runtime: 21 minutes

Rohingya refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing from the brutal regime in Myanmar, has resulted in an exodus of more than 700,000 Rohingya from their homes into the largest resettlement camps in the world. Lost and Found, directed by Academy Award winner Orlando von Einsiedel (“The White Helmets”, “Virunga"), tells the uplifting story of Kamal Hussein, a Rohingya who has dedicated his life to taking children who get separated and lost from their parents in this sprawling camp and reuniting them.

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Show 3

Friday / 3-5:15p / The Big Idea

We are living in a climate crisis of such unfathomable urgency, with massive global implications, that it is hard to comprehend. The women in this show will explore how we are coping with this fierce catastrophe in our own backyards. Thimali Kodikara is the producer of the Mothers of Invention podcast, which has the tagline “Climate change is a man-made problem with a feminist solution", and will share some of the stories of the women working around the world. Scientist Lauren Oakes went to Alaska to study a dying tree called the yellow cedar but what she learned about herself, hope and humanity is the subject of an essential book called In Search of the Canary Tree. Tatiana Schlossberg’s new book, Inconspicuous Consumption, dives deeply into our everyday individual lives and how we can self-correct our carbon-intensive ways. 17-year-old Aniya Windgate was displaced from her grandmother’s home by Hurricane Harvey and has become an activist dancer channeling her existential fear into a mesmerizing performance. A major report published last year by an array of noted scientists said there were 12 years left to seriously lower our global emissions. As any of these speakers will attest, now there are only eleven years left.



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Aniya Wingate

Aniya Windgate is a teenager who was displaced from her grandmother’s home during Hurricane Harvey and processed that trauma through a riveting dance performance that captures both the pain and perseverance of the experience. She is also the subject of a feature-length documentary about this that is a work-in-progress called Raising Aniya and will contribute to the Mother of All Issues show.


Lauren Oakes

In 2010, scientist Lauren E. Oakes headed down a dark road to understand the mass die-off of yellow cedar trees on the outer coast of Southeast Alaska. Immersed in a deeper and broader story of adaptation of both people and the forest, she wrote a book In Search of the Canary Tree that captures this experience with insight, context and hope. She will speak in the Mother of All Issues show about what her scientific inquiry into the yellow cedar taught her about humanity.

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Tatiana Schlossberg

Tatiana Schlossberg is a climate change and environmental journalist whose first book, "Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have," comes out in August. She previously reported on those subjects for the Science and Climate sections at the New York Times. As a part of our Climate Change show, Schlossberg will explain and explore the everyday environmental impacts of all of our stuff -- food, fashion, technology and transportation -- from how much energy it takes to stream videos to the way polyester shirts contribute to ocean pollution. “In the name of convenience or immediate gratification or profit, we’ve created a world where we use resources because we can, with little attention paid to our waste and the problems it creates.” There’s humor and hope in her writing, an attitude that will bring life to the OT stage with entertainingly brutal and factual honesty.

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Thimali Kodikara

Thimali Kodikara hails from London but has lived in Brooklyn, where she produces the Doc Society’s groundbreaking podcast, Mothers Of Invention, which explores feminist solutions to climate change from around the world. She has also worked at Getty Images and Christie’s but now really focuses on understanding how women around the world are grappling with the dramatically heating planet, having talked to so many who are on the front lines of the fast-moving climate crisis.

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Sandra Winther

Sandra Winther is a New York-based film director from Copenhagen, Denmark. Much of her work tells the stories of underrepresented youth, mainly centering on subcultures across America. Her documentary Lowland Kids tackles the complex subject of climate change through the eyes of two American teenagers living on a sinking island in Louisiana.



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Lowland Kids

Directed by: Sandra Winther

Runtime: 22 minutes

As climate change erases the Louisiana coast, the last two teenagers on Isle de Jean Charles fight to stay on an island that's been their family home for generations.

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Shoulders Deep 

Directed by: John Fiege

Runtime: 7 minutes

Shoulders Deep tells the story of Aniya Wingate, a 17 year old dancer from Houston, Texas, who was displaced from her home in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey. This short doc works to understand her extremely challenging experience through dance, poetry, and performance. Collaborating with her mentor Walter Hull, Aniya choreographs several dance pieces that convey the fear and despair she had to deal with during Harvey - and afterwards as well - as she found comfort and shelter post-storm. With the global climate crisis creating more refugees regularly, Aniya’s story of upheaval is going to become more universal and this film will serve as both caution and comfort to those on the front line of natural disasters across the world.

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Show 4

Friday / 7-9p / The Big Idea

The effects of music on our lives is hard to put into words, but Sarfraz Manzoor, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Thatcher era England, can tell you exactly what kind of impact one musician – Bruce Springsteen – had on his once wayward life. Manzoor’s book about The Boss, Greetings from Bury Park, was adapted into a film called Blinded by the Light, which was a breakout hit at Sundance 2019. The nature of music is that it often crosses cultures, which is certainly the case with Turning Tables, a short documentary about a DJ from First Nations named Joshua DePerry (aka Classic Roots). The science behind this subject is also fascinating, a subject explored by Bernadette Gonzalez who works with the Alive Inside Foundation, to understand the effects of music on memory with Alzheimer’s patients. Also, in this show, will be performances and sing-alongs because after all, music brings us together and gives us joy.



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Sarfraz Manzoor

Sarfraz Manzoor was born in Pakistan but grew up in Margaret Thatcher’s England, which provided a variety of challenges for a young, alienated teenager until he found the music of Bruce Springsteen. Manzoor will speak at Original Thinkers as part of our show, What Does Music Really Do to Us? about the impact of the Boss’s music on his once wayward life. He will draw from his memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, as well as a new feature film he wrote called Blinded by the Light, which was a sensation at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

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Chrisann Hessing

A documentary filmmaker based in Toronto, Chrisann Hessing focuses her work on questions of identity, particularly looking for stories that upend cultural and societal expectations. She directed Turning Tables, which screens in Show 4, What Does Music Really Do to Us?

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Joshua “Classic Roots” DePerry

Joshua “Classic Roots” DePerry is a DJ who is creating a new sound that mixes First Nations beats and music into his own electronic compositions. He is also the star of Turning Tables, which will screen in Show 4, What Does Music Really Do to Us?

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Bernadette González

Bernardette González Orta is a scientist who teaches psychology at the Iberoamerican University in Mexico City and is focusing on how to use music to improve the quality of life for the elderly. She works with the Alive Inside organization, which has done a lot of work on Alzheimers and music and will talk about this project in Show 4, What Does Music Really Do to Us?

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Gwen Thompkins

Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.



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Turning Tables

Directed by: Chrisann Hessing

Runtime: 15 minutes

Music is ever-changing and evolving with genres we have never imagined coming into existence including PowWow Techno. It’s the brainchild of Joshua DePerry, also known as Classic Roots who is a Native Canadian mixing the latest beats with indigenous influences.

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Show 5

Saturday / 10a-12p / The Big Idea

Shame does something uniquely pernicious to us that we rarely look at or really try to understand. Photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally’s masterwork Upstate Girls focuses on the hard but loving lives of young women in hardscrabble Troy, New York, diving into this complex subject of shame on both a national and systemic level as well as a deeply personal perspective. “We have a bondage to the past, to the shame” says Kenneally who will speak on stage alongside one of her collaborators and subjects, Dana Schubart. Author and activist Brooke Axtell life’s story is extraordinary, which she has used to make huge inroads on the scourge of human trafficking. Forensic traumatologist Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh works in Las Vegas where there is a ready built ecosystem of victimization, creating a remarkable challenge for her professional goal of helping people heal, which often involves first lifting the heavy burden of shame from what happened to them. Stanley Stellar is a photographer who chronicled the history of American gay rights from it’s shame-infused hidden hallways in the 60’s to a robust rights movement today.



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Brooke Axtell

Brooke Axtell is a human rights activist who works to help young women find their way to becoming leaders through her mission as the Founder and Director of She is Rising, a healing community for women and girls overcoming rape, abuse and sex-trafficking. She has spoken across the world including at the UN, the Grammy Awards and has been featured in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and Time Magazine as well.

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Stanley Stellar

Stanley Stellar has seen history unfold through his camera lens, focusing on the story of gay men, mostly in New York, over more than four decades. In that time, there has been an enormous shift in culture as these communities have emerged from the shadows and proudly into the streets, something that has been captured by Stellar. He is also the subject of the short documentary, Stanley Stellar: Here for This Reason, which tells his unique story and will be part of Show 5, Unburying Shame.

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Eric Leven

Eric Leven is an activist and filmmaker living in New York City. His career covers the spectrum of documentaries, reality television, celebrity content and branded video. His documentary, Truvada Revolution, won the 2016 GLAAD Award for Outstanding Journalism on a Multimedia Platform. He is currently Senior Producer of Digital Video for VICE Media.

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Dana Schubart

Dana Marie Schubart hails from upstate New York and is a survivor of childhood trauma, domestic violence and family offense. She believes we cannot break these pernicious cycles and begin to heal without exposing the truths of our stories. Her life's work is focused on sharing her own story of resilience and perseverance, which she will contribute to the Unburying Shame show along with photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally who captured Schubart’s challenging and complicated life in her landmark book, Upstate Girls.

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Brenda Ann Kenneally

Over the past thirty years, Pulitzer Prize Nominee Brenda Ann Kenneally’s immersive journalism has produced visceral portraits of poor and low-income children in America. As a part of Unburying Shame at OT, she will unpack the experience of her childhood in upstate New York and years spent reporting on the current generation of Upstate Girls, the title of her most recent book. She will speak to the power of art to create expanded family, recounting decades of living alongside her subjects. It was Kenneally’s need to share what she had learned that led her to form A Little Creative Class, Inc. The non-profit arts organization's mission is to address the social and economic obstacles that deter poor and low-income youth from participating in the emerging idea-based economy.

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Keme Nzerem

Washington - Moscow - Johannesburg - Rio - London - for the past two decades Keme Nzerem has reported around the globe for British network TV on issues from corruption, politics, and human rights - to sport. His focus is always on people, and how global events impact the lives of ordinary folk.



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Stanley Stellar: Here for this Reason

Directed by: Eric Leven
Runtime: 15 minutes

The short documentary, Stanley Stellar: Here for This Reason delves into the story of Stanley Stellar, a singular character in the gay rights movement who chronicled its history over forty years with his camera. The film both explains how the world of gay men changed in New York but also what Stellar saw and captured along the way.

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Show 7

Saturday / 6-7:15p / Deep Creek Mine

For the first time, a wildly cool OT show will take place at the abandoned limestone mine above town. Starting with an otherworldly sensory display of light and sound, this artistic examination of creating culture will culminate in a dialogue between contemporary custodians of art in our society. This happening is the vision of Anton Viditz-Ward, the wizard of the mine, who has been building epic fire exhibits at Burning Man for more than a decade. 

The journey starts with a meditative, multi-sensory installation by the crew from Studio Chromasonic. They are creating a powerfully immersive experience that will feed into the larger conversation about perception and culture. Next, cultural instigator Nic Aziz is coming from the New Orleans Museum of Art to “perform”. He’s known for his unique, live performance: reinterpreting the famous Rodin sculpture, The Thinker, while perched on top of confederate statues.

The mine show continues into a conversation about art, culture and independent thought through an exchange between Rhea Combs, curator of film for the Smithsonian African-American Museum, Chris Taylor from the rock/electronic group Grizzly Bear, and singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman. They will address the many challenges and successes they’ve faced in their own uncharted and unorthodox work.


The Happening at the Deep Creek Mine.

Saturday October 5th 2019. Doors open 8pm.
Art Installations, live music, tea ceremonies, DJ set.

*This event is by invitation.



Studio Chromasonic

Studio Chromasonic was founded by visual artist Johannes Girardoni and sound artists Orpheo McCord and Joel Shearer to create immersive, multi-disciplinary works that inspire deep mindfulness and real human connection. Girardoni’s work explores the limits of perception through material and light and has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, including the 54th Venice Biennale. McCord’s percussive interests have taken him around the world in search of the next beat, and Shearer has been pushing the creative envelope in ambient music. Both men also perform with the wildly dynamic band, Ed Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. In Telluride, Chromasonic will present their important mind-bending new work at the Deep Creek mine, which will be an unforgettable experience.

The studio’s mission is to explore the future potential of art as a catalyst to harmonize cognitive and somatic states through digital and analog technology, and to create artworks and platforms that benefit the public at large.

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Johannes Girardoni

Johannes Girardoni is an Austrian-American sculptor and installation artist. Girardoni’s work is driven by his interest in perception, and how natural and artificial phenomena can be organized to create responsive environments that shift our experience and understanding of site and space. Girardoni’s art has been shown in galleries and museums worldwide, including in the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy, the Ludwig Museum, Germany, The Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, MA, The Austrian Cultural Forum, New York, as well as at TED2014:The Next Chapter, Vancouver, British Columbia. 

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Orpheo McCord

From digging into desert grooves with Touaregs on the rooftops of Timbuktu to all-night trance sessions with Sufi masters in the mountains of Morocco, percussionist, composer and globetrotter Orpheo McCord has traversed a wide musical landscape over the past 20 years. McCord has been an active member of the Grammy award winning group Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (best known for their single “Home”, as well as their infamous high energy live shows) since the group’s inception over a decade ago. McCord’s ever evolving exploration in the integration of indigenous musics as well as his passionate curiosity to push sonic boundaries allow him to stand out both as a musician and composer.

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Joel Shearer

Joel Shearer is a musician, composer and producer who has been a creative force in the music industry for the past 25 years playing guitar, recording, and touring with the likes of Alanis Morissette, Dido, Annie Lennox, Joe Cocker, Damien Rice, Michael Buble, Sarah McLachlan, Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros and A.R. Rahman, to name a few. Shearer is currently pushing the creative envelope in ambient music, via the electric guitar and performing experimental live performances around the globe.

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Nic Aziz

Nic Brierre Aziz is an interdisciplinary artist and curator at the New Orleans Museum of Art, who performs his art live. He is one of our featured artists in Creating Culture, the show that will take place in the vast abandoned mine above Telluride. A wildly creative mind, Aziz uses his art to engage with community issues and traumas, most notably posing as Rodin’s The Thinker on top of confederate statues. He is an artist-activist changemaker that will show the OT audience how he utilizes our personal and collective histories to reimagine the future. 

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Rhea Combs 

Rhea Combs is a PhD who curates photography and film for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.. She just programmed the inaugural  Smithsonian African American Film Festival in 2018 and will contribute her expertise to Show 7, Unearthing Culture.

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Bhi Bhiman

If it wasn’t for an injury during a baseball game when he was 13, Bhi Bhiman might have had a very different life but during his convalescence, he discovered the guitar, which set him on a path to becoming a musician. With his latest album Peace of Mind, he set out to not only make music but make a statement with the work, recording it as a podcast and interviewing notable guests along the way, delving into the issues of our time in an entirely new way. He will speak - and perform - about that experience as part of the show, What Does Music Really Do to Us?

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Brandon Victor Dixon

Brandon Victor Dixon graduated from Columbia University and stayed on in New York City becoming a major presence on Broadway as an actor. He has had several star turns including Motown, the Musical, The Color Purple and Hamilton, in which he played Aaron Burr, and gave the cast response to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence when he attended the show. At Original Thinkers, he will contribute to a couple of shows including What Does Music Really Do to Us as well as closing out the weekend with a talk at Show 10 about his new initiative WeAre, which is designed to engage people in democracy in a new and compelling way.

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Taliesin Gilkes-Bower  

Taliesin is an interdisciplinary artist who works in video, photography, sculpture, and sound art bringing these elements together to explore how communities respond creatively to oppression. His artworks are challenging as he delves into the complicated intersection of African and Afro-Diasporic culture with state violence.

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Ramy Essam

Ramy Essam is a rocker, an agitator, and a force of nature live on stage. With a guitar in hand, Essam has been one of the loudest voices for Egypt’s struggle for a progressive society. He will sing and speak about using his talent to lead a revolution in our Change is Hard show, including his most notable song, Irhal. He performed it at the height of the Egyptian Revolution, demanding for the resignation of then-ruler Hosni Mubarak. Time Out has it listed as the #3 Song that changed history. “My cause is humanity and freedom and human rights. It’s very simple”. Essam experienced brutal torture and arrests intended to silence his voice because of his participation in the movement. His songs were banned and he was forbidden to perform publicly in Egypt. Undeterred, he eventually found safe haven in Sweden, and continues to perform today.

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Show 8

Sunday / 10-11:45p / The Big Idea

Feature Film

Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project

Marion Stokes felt strongly that information was critical to understanding our society and believed that knowledge could not be taken away. As a result, this largely unknown visionary recorded every news broadcast she could, with VCRs rolling on all sorts of televised programming, resulting in a remarkable archive. The strikingly well-made documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, chronicles Stokes’ unusual life but also contextualizes what she was trying to do: use information and knowledge to give American citizens power by understanding what was happening in the world. Filled with big ideas, this documentary seems to speak to our current moment in history, offering real perspective, incisive commentary and a deeper understanding of why real news matters more than ever.


In Conversation

James Fallows, Yael Lavie & Keme Nzerem

A post film panel about the critical nature of news and information.

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Show 9

Sunday / 1:45-3:30p / The Big Idea

America was born out of an idea based around freedom and liberty but what does that say about who we are and what our character as a nation is. Acclaimed journalists Deborah and James Fallows delved into this question in a deep and trenchant way by traversing the country in a single engine plane. On their remarkable journey, they visited a myriad of small towns across the U.S., which became the national bestseller, Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America.

Jason Hirschhorn considers himself a curator of all sorts of media and his ReDef newsletters are must-reading in the upper echelons of the entertainment industry and has spent a lot of time thinking about what the culture of this country tells us about our character. This multi-layered show will also include the screening of two films, a short doc called Gloria about the legendary civil rights activist Gloria Richardson as well as a new film by OT co-founder Gabe Lifton-Zoline about Jimmy Carter and a brilliant but infamous speech about who we could be he made forty years ago. This country is roiling as never before and what our character is really comprised of, will determine so much of our future.



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James & Deborah Fallows

For nearly four years, husband and wife journalists Deborah and James Fallows piloted their single-engine propeller plane to small and mid-size towns in America, reporting on innovation of all sorts, which resulted in a national best-selling 2018 book called Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America. As part of the Character of Our Country show, they will share what they learned along the way, ultimately drawing a conclusion that surprises much of the national news audience: “most parts of the United States that we visited have been doing better, in most ways, than most Americans realize.” They found that when you zoom in and spend time at the local level, Americans are actually adapting to life in the 21st century. As a widely published writer and linguist, and a longtime correspondent for the Atlantic Magazine, Deborah and James have decades of experience covering a myriad of topics from all over the world, including being on the ground for the formative years of China’s rise. Our Towns is currently being adapted into a documentary series by HBO.

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Jason Hirschhorn

Jason Hirschhorn holds a unique place in Hollywood as a top executive with MTV, Myspace and his current company, the ReDEF Group but he is also a careful curator and big thinker on the role of entertainment in our culture. He will be speaking about this as part of Show 9, the Character of Our Country.





Directed by: Stewart Thorndike

Runtime: 5 minutes

Movements are often defined by images and the photo of a young and defiant Gloria Richardson pushing away a National Guardsman’s rifle during a 60’s civil rights protest is iconic. This sharp doc, playing as part of the show Character of Our Country, gives us the context around the photo and spends time with Gloria today.


Crisis of Confidence

(a work in progress)

Directed by: Gabriel Lifton-Zoline

Runtime:  minutes

In the summer of 1979, Jimmy Carter gave a major speech from the Oval Office that was ostensibly about the energy crisis but, in fact, was about something much more important. He believed that after the concurrent nightmares of Vietnam, Watergate and the energy shortages, America was in a “crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will.” Crisis of Confidence, directed by OT co-founder Gabriel Lifton-Zoline with a special screening in Show 9, Character of Our Country, dissects Carter's prescient speech of forty years ago, and reveals just how relevant and resonant his words still are today.

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Show 10

Sunday / 5-7p / The Big Idea

The culmination of OT 2019 will be exhilarating and moving. Brandon Victor Dixon has starred on Broadway (Aaron Burr in Hamilton and Berry Gordy in Motown, the Musical) and is now working to raise voter engagement through an exciting new foundation called WeAre. There will also be a sneak screening of a new documentary about a church that has gone through a radical transformation that has made it an even more sacred space. Joining this program will be original thinkers from the weekend who want to share their big idea to change the world. This show, full of surprises, will send you back out into the world ready to make an impact of your own.



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Amanda Blaurock

The Executive Director of the Village Exchange Center, Blaurock is building a new multicultural institution in Aurora, Colorado that brings refugee and immigrant communities together in a retired church.

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Brandon Victor Dixon

A Broadway star, Dixon is also an activist and artist whose mission is to elevate America’s democratic system through his new foundation WeAre.

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Marcel Narucki

Narucki has focused his work as a Lutheran minister on promoting interfaith and multicultural encounters and continues this as the Chairman of the Village Exchange Center in Aurora, Colorado.



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My Father’s House

Church attendance is declining across the nation so one church in Aurora, CO decided to deal with this challenge by taking the cross off the wall and opening their doors to immigrants from across the world, giving them a sacred space to celebrate their holy traditions.

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