Film Premiere: Filmmaker Susan Polis Schutz Brings Unity Through Art “BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats”

Premieres on WORLD: Wednesday, April 17th 9pm EST with broadcasts on Public Television Stations Nationwide

Posada Sin Fronteras at Friendship Park - Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: David Maung
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Visionary entrepreneur and award-winning director, Susan Polis Schutz, is set to release her latest film, BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats. Shedding light on six remarkable groups dedicated to fostering understanding and friendship across cultural divides, BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats premieres on WORLD: Wednesday, April 17th 9pm EST and will receive subsequent broadcasts on public television stations nationwide. The film will also be available for streaming, ensuring that Susan’s message of unity reaches audiences far and wide.

An accomplished writer, poet, committed feminist, and documentary filmmaker Susan has always followed her bliss. She began her writing career at seven, putting together a neighborhood newspaper in her hometown of Peekskill, New York. In college she met her husband, Stephen Schutz, who later encouraged her to make a silk screen poster using the words of her poem. The twelve posters quickly sold out, leading to her Co-Founding the iconic Blue Mountain Arts , a leader in the social expression industry, and a highly recognized Top Five greeting card brand.

Blue Mountain Arts Card, Photo: Courtesy of Susan Polis Schutz

SPLASH Magazines Worldwide had the great opportunity to talk with Susan Polis Schutz and learn more about her incredible life and film:

SPLASH: You helped create the hugely successful greeting card company Blue Mountain Arts. Can you tell us about what it was like starting your own company and what you were trying to achieve with it?

SPS: I have always wanted to help people gain a better understanding of themselves, others and of the world. This has been a driving force of the work I do.

Besides being a filmmaker, I’m a poet and my husband Stephen Schutz is an artist. As a hobby, Stephen hand lettered poems that I wrote about friendship, family, love and peace. We made silkscreen posters combining our work and we soon started to sell them to stores. That was the beginning of Blue Mountain Arts.

Through our company, I was able to continue my mission of spreading positivity and empathy to as many people as possible with my poems having been published in over 450 million greeting cards, books and calendars.

Jerusalem Youth Chorus 10 Year Anniversary Concert, Photo: IronZeal Films

SPLASH: You are a woman of many talents: an entrepreneur, a poet, an author and a filmmaker. Your latest documentary, BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats, profiles six organizations that are working to forge peace and understanding between groups that have traditionally been at odds. Can you tell us a little about the film and what made you decide to make a film focused on the topic of people working to promote peace?

SPS: I look at filmmaking as a natural extension of my writing and poetry. With all nine of my documentaries, I have tried to bring messages of understanding to as many viewers as possible. I was inspired to make BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats after seeing an article about one of the organizations highlighted in the film, Fandango Fronterizo. Amidst all the negative news I was seeing about divisiveness, hatred and meanness, this group was promoting unity between Americans and Mexicans through performances on both sides of a wall that separates the U.S. and Mexico.

I decided to look for other groups that are also focused on creating peace and unity and that was the genesis of BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats. I sought to spotlight the people who are working to bring about positive change in their parts of the world and bring people together despite differences and historic rifts. Other groups profiled in the film include the Jerusalem Youth Chorus comprised of young singers from both Palestinian and Israeli backgrounds; the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a group of Jewish and Muslim women uniting in friendship and dialogue in cities around the world; Uniting Voices of Chicago, a choir to help students from diverse backgrounds across the city to form bonds; PeacePlayers – Northern Ireland, a basketball league with 2,500 participants, to bring Catholic and Protestant youth together; and Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative, an interfaith campus with a church, synagogue and mosque serving as an example of how different faiths can coexist.

All these groups are inspirational as they prove that our common humanity is more important than what divides us.

During this divisive time, BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeatsshows what human beings are truly capable of when we put aside our differences and meet one another with an eagerness to engage. It reminds us that no matter where we are from, what we look like and what we believe, we are all the same.

It’s my hope that this film will inspire audiences to remain hopeful and know that everyone can make a difference.

Chicago Children Choir members celebrat their love of music, Photo: IronZeal Films

SPLASH: Having spotlighted these six amazing groups making a difference, what advice do you have for people looking to help create change in their own communities?

SPS: As individuals we simply need to be kind, honest, respectful and have empathy for others. Be curious about other cultures, talk to and get to know people living in different situations than yours. Find places and ways to come together in dialog and shared activities such as music, art, dance, gardening, cooking, sports, or anything else you are interested in. Not only do these types of projects enrich you, but they are positive ways of bringing people from across the divides together. Look for similarities with diverse people and concentrate on the humanity of those you connect with. This could be a catalyst for new friendships and help foster greater understanding and respect. We are all one regardless of any differences we might have.

SPLASH: Do you have a favorite filmmaker or one who influenced your work?

SPS: I like filmmakers who make films that are easy to follow, honest and that do not have a lot of special effects. I like films that depict humanity in a real way. Ken Burns is a great documentarian.

SPLASH: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?

Figure out what your vision is. What do you want people to see and learn. Keep things clear and not complicated. Stick 100 percent to your vision.

SPLASH: Do you know what your next film will focus on? How can readers keep up with your work and what you have coming next?

SPS: I just finished making BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats,two years of 24/7 work. I am taking a break. I do have an idea, but it is too soon to think about it.

Keep up with Susan Polis Schutz via her website: or Facebook:

BRIDGING DIVIDES: Sharing Heartbeats is available to stream on and the PBS App. Watch the trailer HERE.


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