Florida State University School of Dance assistant professors Kehinde Ishangi and Tiffany Rhynard will premiere their documentary film Not My Enemy at the Veterans Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, November 3-6, 2022. This feature-length film emerged from a dance concert choreographed by Ishangi which premiered in 2018, inspired by dialogue with her father, a Vietnam veteran.
“It really meant a lot to me that after we performed the original dance concert, the veterans in attendance felt seen and appreciated,” said Ishangi. “After that, we wanted to give the project a larger voice to have a greater impact. Our goal with this film is to open the conversation about war and how we support the people who put their lives on the line for our country.”
Not My Enemy is directed by Ishangi, filmed by Rhynard, and features a score composed by FSU Dance assistant professor Farai Malianga. The film paints a picture of the traumatic and dehumanizing impact of the Vietnam War through the experiences of African American soldiers. Weaving between a fictional narrative and real-life interviews with Vietnam veterans, the documentary dance film becomes a harrowing reminder of how the war left indelible scars on a generation of Black men and their families.
Ishangi’s choreography examines the experience of combat, the psychological aftermath and the effort to heal from lifelong wounds.
“The film’s dance sequences offer a window into the emotional struggles faced by veterans and a deep, physical exploration of PTSD and its impacts.” said Rhynard. “They are an emotional portal into that story.”
What began as a dance film for the duo evolved into a feature-length documentary as they dove deeper into the experiences of Black Vietnam veterans and their loved ones. The film features interviews with several veterans and family members, as well as experts in psychology and history.
Laura Reid Marks, Ph. D., psychologist and assistant professor in the College of Education’s Combined Counseling and School Psychology doctoral program, provides insight into the impacts of PTSD on these veterans, and how their mental health may have also impacted their families.
“We need to work toward reducing stigma around mental health treatment for veterans,” said Marks. “The mental health of veterans is of vital importance and impacts not only the veterans, but also their families.”
The film’s dance sequences are all performed by School of Dance students and alums who originally appeared in Ishangi’s 2018 dance concert.
After the premiere in Sydney, the film will have its United States premiere at the San Francisco Veteran Film Festival. Ishangi and Rhynard hope to premiere the film at FSU in the coming year.
FSU’s School of Dance is considered a pioneer in college dance programs. Learn more about the School of Dance at dance.fsu.edu.
FSU’s College of Education, the oldest college of education in the state of Florida, has prepared generations of individuals for success in classrooms and is home to over 30 graduate programs. To learn more visit education.fsu.edu.
FSU’s Student Veterans Center offers support to veterans and fosters community connections. Learn more about the Student Veterans Center at veterans.fsu.edu.