There are so many interesting stories out there that do not get told,
and I think, in large part, that is why I like the series so much.
How did your collaboration with the Kennedy Center begin?
I think it started with a lecture on the Chechen insurgency in 1998, but shortly thereafter, sometime in 1999, Eric Hyer [BYU political science professor] and I started working on the film Helen Foster Snow: Witness to Revolution. Snow was a Utah native who became a journalist in China close to the early Communist state.
At the time, the university had Special Country Focus funds. Money was to be spent on projects meant to strengthen university ties to various countries, and China was one of those places. Also, BYU Special Collections had received a substantial portion of Snow’s personal archive: photos, letters, and notes from her time in China and afterward.
The decision was made to do a film on Snow. Sterling Van Wagonen at KBYU asked me if I would make this film and, with a fusion of funding from the Special Country Fund via the Kennedy Center, the film took off. Based on that film and the semester lectures I give, a relationship was established that has led to further collaboration, including the Beyond the Border series—and some close friendships.