The Bridge Project is an international film and music festival designed to model and foster the process of building mutually-beneficial, non-imperialistic bridges across cultural divides.
The Bridge Project will present a live music and film performance to the citizens of two countries (Kyoto, Japan and New York, USA), and over stream to participants around the globe. The presentation will be preceded by a panel discussion led by musical and film artists and there will be a sizeable intermission and post-concert reception that are structured such that audience participants and artists are encouraged to engage with one another: a team of interns, selected from among students of diplomacy and/or the arts at nearby universities, will be designated the task of scaffolding conversation during these periods. These two conversation periods, as well as a post-festival questionnaire will function as important media of bridge-building among audience participants and artists.
The project will commission films via an international contest; works presented will be chosen expressly for their beauty, their intrinsic emotive qualities, and their ability to evoke images of bridges and connection. What is important to the project is not simply the act of building a bridge, but the qualities which guide that bridge-building process: the artworks presented will fervently advocate for bridges that are actively co-built in such a way that they are mutually supportive of and respectful toward the values of both parties, who are in open and honest communication with themselves and with each other.
People are divided by differences in language and aspects of culture. However, the distance between them can often be overcome through the use of shared symbols, from music and the visual arts, which support empathy and the recognition of shared values: kindness, attentive listening, and compassion.
As such, the arts can be a useful agent of connection and diplomacy.