NY Film Festival
When I sat down with the directors of the (Dis)honesty project for a screening at the New York Film Festival I didn’t know what to expect. The staff of Salty Features greeted me warmly, coaxing me to confess my biggest lie in a small photo booth, aptly named the honesty booth. Nerves rattling, I tried to conjure an interesting story for my unknown audience, crafting, self editing and trying to appear cool and earnest and credible. My own moment couldn’t have been more contrived.
After my failure at this simple task, I watched as one person after another wandered in with hesitation, nervously fumbling for reasons to avoid the harrowing fate behind the orange curtain. What, I wondered would motivate anyone to share their most shameful secret on camera for thousands of strangers? Why was being honest about something, a trigger of such anxiety and dread in others. Would a public admission of one’s dishonesty force he or she to be reflective and behave more honestly in the future?
This question is precisely what the (Dis) honesty project is attempting to demonstrate.
Inspired by the book, The Honest truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely and Yael Melamed, The Honesty Project is a compilation of interviews with people confessing the biggest lie they ever told on screen.
Melamed challenges her audience members to confront the darker part of themselves, in a non threatening space where subjects can safely reflect on the reasons they chose to lie, how it had impacted their lives and the lives of others.
She hopes that by example her audiences will be inspired to take these examples and implement the practice into their own lives. In keeping with this goal, the filmmakers expanded their ambitious project. They have already enjoyed successful screenings in Israel, New York and throughout the country.
Melamed ( whose name originates from the Hebrew word for to teach) hopes to use the film as a tool to educate.
She enlisted the talents of Marissa Jahn , a teacher, activist and artist to design a curriculum that will translate theory to practice. The curriculum uses teachable moments in the film as a catalyst for dialogue and trainings used by primary schools, universities and businesses. Their goal is to create a forum for teachers, students and professionals to discuss ethical issues of cheating, fraud and to cultivate a more honest climate in academic and corporate settings. Melamed and Ms. Jahn hope the slippery slopes curriculum will inspire critical dialogues on issues from academic cheating to dishonesty in social settings, and create a safe space for students, coworkers and teachers to discuss these issues in a non judgmental forum,
Their hope for the project is that it become a catalyst to help “’individuals be their better selves.” The curriculum has already being implemented in several schools throughout the country including the University of Philadelphia where it has helped students and professors to confront the sensitive issue of academic and professional cheating in and out of the classroom.
Next step is to bring ethics training to help corporations address larger issues of fraud and ethics in mandatory workshops and trainings.#