Projects

FILM

Kathleen is part of a film team which has recently completed work on a new documentary film, a U.S.-Russian production, called  BIG LIES.

BIG LIES is continuing to receive acceptances at film festivals around the world. (At Lincoln Center, New York City, a screening of the film’s trailer was recently shown.)

BIG LIES tells the story of Joseph Stalin’s forced collectivization of private farms, his determination to oppress and wipe out the peasant population by creating a a massive artificial hunger (in Russian, this event is known as GOLODOMOR). During two brutal years–1931-1933—Soviet policy resulted in the deaths of an estimated 10 million people in the USSR, which then included Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. The film addresses the issue of society’s failure to tell the truth.

From Dr. Igor Runov, BIG LIE’s producer: “Stalin’s merciless farm policy opened the way to mass political repressions from the 1930s to 1950s, and had long term social and demographic consequences which were not overcome until now. Eighty-five years later in Russia there is still not a single memorial to this most vicious human sacrifice committed by the State in modern history.”

BIG LIES analyzes the roots and consequences of the Great Break—the forced collectivization and mass deportation of millions of villagers. The film also tries to  understand the propaganda mechanics of the “big lies” used by Stalin to mislead world public opinion. The American establishment of the time, including the prominent and “trustworthy” America media, were complicit in ignoring the real truth about what was happening to the peasant farmers on their lands and the resulting massive displacement and starvation.  BIG LIES makes the disturbing connection between past events and the political and social practices of “fake news” and “alternative facts” in the 21st century.

According to Runov,  “These instruments, these truth-bending policies, though modified due to modern IT technologies, have remained, in many ways,  in effect and practiced by today’s powers-that-be.”

In BIG LIES, Kathleen is making her debut as a documentary film narrator. As an American writer with Slavic ancestry, and one who has traveled widely throughout Russia,  she is drawn to this tragic history. On camera, she talks about the repercussions of this misguided USSR policy and reflects on the failure of society and its government leaders to tell the real truth about these events.

TEACHING

As a creative writing instructor, Kathleen Witkowska Tarr has designed and taught several seminars and workshops for 49 Writers/Alaska Writing Center geared to intermediate to advanced writers.

Most recently, she has offered, “Writers, Seekers, Pilgrims: A Session with Thomas Merton,” a workshop which focuses on Thomas Merton, the literary man. The workshop explores Merton’s writings and provides insights about what made this prolific “man of letters” such a remarkable, gifted writer.

In her short course, The Spiritual in Writing: Across Faiths, Genres & Time, she introduces writers to the topic of “spiritual writing”—writings from the seekers, dreamers, pilgrims, saints, mystics and spiritual masters across faith traditions (Judaism; Christianity;Islam;Buddhism), across genres (poetry/fiction/nonfiction) and across international borders.

Along with the Russia-born poet, editor, and language teacher, Olga Livshin, Kathleen has also designed and taught, Writing with Anna Akhmatova. In this popular seminar, participants are introduced to Anna Andreyevna Akhmatova (1889-1966), one of Russia’s greatest poets whose life embodied the notion that “great poetry is often a response to total disaster.”

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WRITING ANNA AKHMATOVA: instructors Olga Livshin (far left) and Kathleen Tarr with a few seminar participants

WRITING/EDITING/CONSULTATIONS

Kathleen occasionally offers professional communication services in writing and editing, including book proposal development; technical writing; speech writing; and editorial services for nonfiction manuscript development. For more information, please contact Kathleen.