"Memoir of a Choctaw Indian in the Arab Revolts, 1917 & 2011"
When the 2010 Arab Spring erupted LeAnne Howe was living in Amman, Jordan (2010-2011). Even in Jordan there were weekly protests against the government, and in support of King Abdullah of Jordan. Slowly, the fictional novel and memoir of living in the Middle East during the beginnings of this region-wide revolution merged. In the beginning, the work was a mash-up of different genres: film, memoir, and fiction. Today Memoir of a Choctaw Indian in the Arab Revolts, 1917 & 2011 has taken shape in the new artistic expression we call “CinéLit.”
CinéLit combines several genres; the novel, memoir, poetry, music, and original cinematography shot on location to tell a story. Set in Bilaad ash Sham, and Oklahoma, Memoir of a Choctaw Indian in the Arab Revolts, 1917 and 2011, our inaugural CinéLit project, combines images of landscapes in the Middle East, and Oklahoma and follows Benjamin Hen, a young Presbyterian Choctaw choir director who travels to Beirut in 1913. In 1914 he’s sent to Salt (today in Jordan) to work at the first Christian hospital established there in 1883. He ministers to the sick and dying by singing Choctaw hymns. A young Arab named Wahdah, a member of the Huweitat tribe, befriends Benjamin. Later the young Choctaw moves south with Wahdah to Wadi Musa and ends up fighting alongside Arab tribesman in 1917 to help overthrow the Ottoman Empire.
In August 2013, with the support of the University of Illinois’ Research Board grant, we returned to Jordan with professional filmmaker and three-time Emmy award-winning Ojibway cinematographer James Fortier. Fortier and Howe have worked together on three film documentary projects over the past decade. In August 2013 we filmed the landscapes, images, and mini-scenes for our first CinéLit project in Jordan. All these will be edited into a pattern that informs the text and when completed will be available on digital “e-Book” devices such as a Kindle.