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March 16, 2014

Seeking to pierce the veil of tears

GREENVILLE — For filmmaker Kenny Saylors, simply producing movies isn’t enough.

Saylors, a graduate of Greenville High School, owns Saylors Brothers Entertainment along with his brother Kyle. After spending decades in the mainstream film business and working on everything from MTV music videos to a television series for Fox Sports, the brothers decided to focus on creating movies with a purpose.

One of the documentaries they produced, “Kimjongilia,” presented the difficulties the North Korean people endured under Kim Jong-il’s oppressive regime. The film was screened before Congress and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Saylors brothers’ newest documentary, “Veil of Tears,” will premiere in 20 theaters on March 28 and documents the plight of women in India.

“Veil of Tears,” which was narrated by GMA Dove Award-winning artist Natalie Grant, was filmed in various locations all across India, from major cities like Calcutta to rural villages more than a day’s drive into the interior of the country.

“We thought we had an idea of what it was like for the women in India, but it was nothing like we imagined,” Saylors aid. “Eighty percent of their population lives in the middle of nowhere — they are so isolated and primitive. It’s a very interesting world.”

The unique culture that Saylors and his team was exposed to clashed with their Western preconceptions on several items, including arranged marriages.

“We discovered nuances of their culture that we weren’t used to,” he said. “Arranged marriage is the norm, and we found that out very quickly. In the U.S., dating is such a huge topic that people stress over, but in India is just isn’t.”

The film begins with the Taj Mahal, a world wonder originally built by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

“We begin the story with the Taj Mahal, which is a paradox to the actual culture,” Saylors said.

Through the first portion of the movie, Saylors demonstrates the hardships Indian women have to endure, from the ritualistic “bride burnings” to widows who are ostracized by their families.

“If your husband dies, regardless of what happened, it’s your fault,” he said. “Your family pushes you away, and you pretty much have to live on the street.”

But the second half, Saylors said, should give audience members hope.

“The hope is really coming from Christian women who are changing the culture from the inside out,” he said. “Women are standing up and helping each other with things we don’t even think about, like reading. Illiteracy is a huge problem in India, and education really is power. Women get cheated out of work deals because they can’t read the contracts they sign.”

Saylors hopes that the movie will bring awareness to the situation.

“It all begins with awareness,” he said. “Honestly, in the American culture, we’re so sheltered and uneducated about what goes on outside of borders. I travel the world extensively and even I was shocked.”

Saylors will be holding a special screening of the film, as well as a Q&A, at 7:30 p.m. on March 28 at Greenville First Assembly of God on Wesley Street. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted, 100 percent of which will go toward helping the hurting and oppressed women of Asia.

For more information on the movie or how to directly impact women’s ministries in India, visit www.veiloftearsmovie.com.

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