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Transcendence: A Journey of Hope and Healing

April 10, 2024 2:00PM EST

The National Capacity Building (NCB) Project at the Center for Victims of Torture

The National Capacity Building (NCB) Project at the Center for Victims of Torture is pleased to announce our upcoming webinar: “Transcendence: A Journey of Hope + Healing.”

Wednesday, April 10th, 2024 from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EST.
(1:00 – 3:00 CST, Noon – 2:00 MST, 11:00 – 1:00 PST) 


A screening of Transcendence: A Journey of Hope + Healing, 76 minutes, USA, 2024, followed by a Question + Answer session with filmmakers Jane C Wagner + Tina DiFeliciantonio; and one of the film’s main characters, Dr. Hawthorne Smith. Every day, at the Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture, the beautiful resilience of the human spirit is on stunning display. People from more than 100 countries come to this “big village” to heal from a range of human rights abuses. Survivors find strength from a team of therapists, physicians, and advocates whose cross-disciplinary methods help them recover their voices and reclaim their lives. Filmed over ten years, this intimate documentary — the first of its kind — traces the powerful stories of four asylees – from Tibet, Sierra Leone, Chad, and Jamaica, and reveals the radical power embedded in the day-to-day journey of healing.

Transcendence offers a moving, radically optimistic counter to the silence of trauma. By offering sensitive, human portraits of different ways trauma manifests in the lives of individuals and through an inspiring narrative that shows healing is possible, this film is essential viewing.

Detailed Agenda (2-hour session):

Who should attend?

Staff of torture rehabilitation programs that are funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement and/or are members of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs as well as others who provide services to survivors of torture. This session is designed for providers working with survivors of torture and forced migration populations.


 After attending this webinar, participants will be able to:  

  1. Develop an understanding of the importance of building relationships of trust when working with torture survivors, including strategies for establishing and maintaining trust within therapeutic settings.
  2. Explore the concept of creating brave spaces by bearing witness to trauma stories, including the significance of providing a supportive environment where survivors feel safe to share their experiences without fear of judgment or retribution.
  3. Recognize the transformative power of giving voice to those who were once rendered voiceless, including how storytelling can empower survivors to reclaim their narratives and promote healing and resilience.


Jane C. Wagner + Tina DiFeliciantonio

Directors + Producers of Transcendence: A Journey of Hope + Healing

Jane C. Wagner and Tina DiFeliciantonio, directors and producers of Transcendence, a project to which they have dedicated over eight years of filming more than 200 hours of footage, as well as decades of expertise. From cinema vérité to impressionistic documentaries, DiFeliciantonio and Wagner’s critically acclaimed films have been screened and broadcast throughout the world. Their wide-ranging work — wartime rape, AIDS, child abuse, social justice, teenage sexuality, civil rights, art, science, ethics, and sustainable energy — has garnered dozens of top honors, such as two National Emmy Awards and two Sundance Film Festival Awards, including the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.

Wagner and DiFeliciantonio began their professional careers after graduating from Stanford University’s M.A. Film Program, where DiFeliciantonio made her directorial debut with the student Academy Award-winning LIVING WITH AIDS, which was the first film on the subject to be broadcast nationally on PBS.  Over the course of 35 years, Wagner and DiFeliciantonio’s intellectual and creative collaboration continues to be sustained by a shared vision and passion for storytelling.

They have produced in countries worldwide, including Hungary, Senegal, Abu Dhabi, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Australia, Jamaica, China, England, Mexico, and Turkey. Their work has been seen on HBO, Sundance Channel, Showtime, New York Times television, MTV, SyFy, U.S.A. Network, and foreign television.

They have participated on numerous juries and moderated panels for the Sundance Film Festival, International Documentary Association, New York Women in Film & Television, and P.O.V./PBS, among others. DiFeliciantonio and Wagner also serve(d) on the Board of Directors of such organizations as ITVS, Women Make Movies, Frameline, and Independent Filmworks Inc.  DiFeliciantonio, in particular, is exceptionally committed to public service in the New York metropolitan area.

Wagner holds an M.Sc. in Political Sociology and a B.Sc. in Political Science/Economics from the London School of Economics. DiFeliciantonio holds a B.S. in Humanities and a B.S. in Business from Drexel University. Each graduated from Stanford University with an M.A. in Communication. On a personal level, DiFeliciantonio has also felt the long-term impact of torture in her own family. During WWII, soldiers beat and gang-raped her aunt and grandmother. Witnessing how the trauma of these corrosive events reverberate through her family many years later, DiFeliciantonio has a deep interest in the recuperation of survivors.  

Dr. Hawthorne Smith

President of NCTTP and Director of the Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture

Dr. Hawthorne Smith is a licensed psychologist and the Director of the Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture. He is also an Associate Clinical Professor at the NYU School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Smith received his doctorate in Counseling Psychology (with distinction) from Teachers College; Columbia University. Dr. Smith had previously earned a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, an advanced certificate in African Studies from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, as well as a Masters in International Affairs from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. Among his clinical duties, Dr. Smith has facilitated a support group for French-speaking African survivors of torture for the past 25 years. He also speaks extensively at professional conferences and seminars on providing clinical services for survivors of socio-political violence, and enhancing cross-cultural clinical skills among therapeutic service providers. Dr. Smith has been recognized for his work with such awards as: the Robin Hood Foundation’s “Hero Award”; the “Frantz Fanon Award” from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health; the “W.E.B. DuBois Award” from the International Youth Leadership Institute; the “Distinguished Alumni – Early Career Award” from Teachers College; the “Man of Distinction Award” from the National Association of Health Service Executives; the “Union Square Award for Community Advocacy” from the Fund for the City of New York; and a “Humanitarian Award” from the Cousul General of the Republic of Haiti.

Prior to coming to Bellevue, Dr. Smith was a youth counselor to “court involved youth” in Washington, DC during the height of the crack epidemic. He then coordinated care at a shelter for homeless families in San Francisco prior to, and in the aftermath of 1989 earthquake. Dr. Smith was also a co-founding member of Nah We Yone, Inc. (a non-profit organization working primarily with refugees from Sierra Leone, as well as other displaced Africans in New York), and helped to coordinate the International Youth Leadership Institute (IYLI), a leadership program for marginalized New York City teens. Currently, Dr. Smith provides forensic evaluations, human rights consultations, and mitigation services on capital cases for private legal firms and public entities such as the US Department of Defense and the US Office of the Federal Defender. Dr. Smith is also a professional musician (saxophonist and vocalist) with national and international experience.