As with other films in the series, Peace in the Valley started with an assignment from the FOV producers. According to West Coast-based directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, it didn’t take much convincing to get them on a plane to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. “They said — so there’s this town, there’s this vote, and there’s this big Jesus on a hill,” Palmieri said. “And we said OK.” While something of a departure from the duo’s previous films — October Country is a textured, lived-in portrait of a working class family, and Off Label is an expansive tour through our country’s addiction to prescription drugs — this new project offered them yet another vantage point on the complexities of American life. In this conversation, conducted the day before Peace in the Valley’s premiere at the New York Film Festival, they talked about the complex culture of Eureka Springs, which was thrown into flux by a recent gay rights ordinance, and how the politics and sensibilities of their subjects were refracted by their own.

Tourist at the base of Christ of the Ozarks statue, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Photo: Donal Mosher

Was there any particular angle that the Field of Vision team wanted you to pursue for this film?

Michael Palmieri: They just knew there was an ordinance, there was a vote, and they wanted us to go down and cover that. But whatever we wanted to do with that, we were encouraged to explore.

In such a short span of time, you present so many complicated facets to the situation and to the town.

Palmieri: But it’s just so evident. I guess it’s also how we look at this stuff. You don’t want to look at it through the standard boilerplate. There were other journalists down there, and we’d read stuff that was all just straightforward, and we were like, “How do you do this so it’s not just that?”

Donal Mosher: Compared to American ideas of what the South is, that place is an absurd carnival. Even if you don’t have an idea, it’s an absurd carnival. And people there know it, and treasure it. And that’s something I hope comes across. The way people feel about the place they live in.

The fact that you have one of the first major voices saying something to the effect of, well, I don’t have any problem with gay people, but economically this ordinance is a problem for us. That already goes beyond the standard expectations of the culture wars.

Palmieri: It’s evangelicals and bikers and the LGBT community essentially existing in basic harmony. You know — I’ll leave you alone if you leave me alone. But then something comes to a head like this, and all of a sudden everybody’s got an opinion. And they were vocalizing and having an open conversation.

Mosher: And of course he does have a problem with it. The one regret I have about working in such a short condensed form is you can’t get that much nuance. There’s a quality to this man that I don’t know can come across that fast.

Palmieri: He has the performative qualities that exist in the entire piece. He’s constantly on and performing — but you get little cracks where you can see when he’s not. But so is everyone else. People are performing a Passion Play. People are performing their roles in their political alignment. It’s all this giant play, is what it seemed like. Everyone’s in a performative mode all the time, though not always as pitched.

Mosher: Not everyone’s introducing Christ or spinning in drag.

I was fascinated by the young Christian man who works in the shop, who supports the ordinance.

Jayme Brandt, owner and designer of Twice Born, an apparel store in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Photo: Donal Mosher

Palmieri: Jayme’s critical. He’s really illustrating the greater conversation going on in the larger Christian community between the evangelical side that is afraid that their rights are being taken away — more conservative — and the much more liberal side that Jayme represents.

Mosher: But he also strongly identifies with the side of Christ who took on the money lenders. He gets a fanatical light in his eye when he talks about the rebel Christ. He’s the most interesting character to me, because he is progressive, or what we consider progressive, and yet he is deeply religious. Christ is a role model for everyone, and he really applies it to his life. In a way that we don’t get to see in American media that often. At the same time he has another nuance that I wish we could catch. By putting himself in that position and supporting the traditional enemies of the conservative church, he also has gaps in his own faith, and has to wrestle with things. The whole town is kind of struggling with a rapidly changing ideology. They have to. Most of them just roll with it in a sweet southern way.

You’re not used to seeing such a variety of conviction around these issues in this country.

Palmieri: We felt like we’d come across something much larger, and we’re really interested in exploring these voices. There is obviously a way that you can look at Christians if you’re coming safe from the left, but it’s actually more complicated. And the conversations are more complicated. And the respect is more complicated to gain. And to their credit, the evangelicals let us in to have these conversations with them. So we really respect that, and want to continue working with them. Plus the passion plays are so awesome.

Portraits of a popular Jesus actor from the Great Passion Play, an outdoor drama that presents the last days of Christ, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Photo: Donal Mosher

There’s potential for comedy — there are comedic moments, there are notes that can be handled as laugh lines — but you don’t press on that too hard. How do you negotiate taking everyone seriously but also letting humor come through?

Palmieri: You want to find both. I think viewers are smart enough to see Christopher Guest moments and then also smart enough to see much more subtle things that are there. It’s not all just one thing.

Mosher: You have to sort of trust as well. I’m hoping that this is a sensitive audience. A lot of what we find comedic about the characters, they themselves are not going to find funny. If we’re on our game, they’re not going to read it as condescending either — and I don’t want them to. But I can’t also deny the fact that to me this is a form of camp — equivalent to a drag show. And so it’s tricky. Hopefully you can get a little moment like when the actor who plays Christ says, “It’s physically and spiritually demanding,” and he’s just got a little look on his face. You hope that by including a moment like that, it bounces off of all the other comedic moments. But all he’s doing is laying the business bare. To us it’s really funny, but to him it’s the practicalities of doing his job.

Palmieri: I don’t think he would interpret it the same way that I’m interpreting it, and it wouldn’t be interpreted as negative. Because it’s just the way that he believes and the way that he presents himself. But it’s OK for another person to interpret it in a different way. And that’s what’s fun, because you get to have both, which is always the thing you’re looking for.

Mosher: Although I don’t know how they’re going to feel about the juxtaposition between a drag show and the Passion Play. That may cross a line. But that’s my line. We’re gay men, I grew up in the South, and that’s the point where I want to actually be like, I’m sorry if this insults you, but this is the statement I need to play with.

Palmieri: But at the same time, they’re also trying to orchestrate conversations with the evangelicals about bringing transgender people in, for reconciliation. So that’s all we’re attempting to show in the film. Like, how unalike really are you? There’s plenty that is different, but there’s plenty that’s similar. And that seems like something to work towards.

They might find it disrespectful, but for you camp isn’t disrespectful at all.

Mosher: No, not at all. And in the South, especially, that is a mode of survival for a lot of people. I really do think of the Passion Play, which is lip-synced to a soundtrack, as exactly the same thing [as a drag show]. But each one is celebrating their own — whatever thing you want to define as faith or spirituality — that supports their lives. There are even little things that didn’t make it into the film, like Kent, the Christ actor, says, “I like to play Christ, but I also like to play Judas, you know? It depends on what dress I’m wearing that day.” And there’s a Bible that they have in their Bible museum, where they have a misprinting in what they call the “He Bible.” Because it has a passage about Ruth entering the city but it says “he” where it should say “she.” And Randall Christie is very proud of this rare Bible. Then all of a sudden it clicks what he’s actually talking about.

Contestant for Miss Eureka Springs during Diversity Weekend, which brings in LGBT tourists from across the state.

Photo: Donal Mosher

Palmieri: And more importantly how we might use it contextually. And that’s where you get those cracks.

Mosher: But it’s just funny how the whole environment is saturated back and forth between the language of one party and the language of the other.

Donal, did your being from the South help at all in terms of relating and earning trust?

Mosher: Some, but I’m only half from the South. And it’s been a long time. And if you grew up in North Carolina, Arkansas is like the Midwest.

Did they engage with you in terms of how you felt about these things, about the ordinance, about your politics or faith? Palmieri: Oh sure. But at the same time I think people just waited to see where we were going. We’re really good about being honest about what we’re doing. There’s never any surreptitious mode of operation, because I always think that doesn’t result in anything useful or helpful. The only instance where we actually had people being concerned, and rightly so, were some of the democratic operatives from Little Rock who were there to help organize the human rights campaign. Once they saw the camera, they stopped us and said, “Wait, where are you from?” They were making sure that it wasn’t some smear campaign against the people who were fighting for tolerance.

Mosher: Because there had been a lot of videos that came out about how gay, lesbian and transgender people are coming to your town and taking over. I mean, talk about camp. But I was a little taken aback that somebody who I would consider as being on my own team was grilling me with more suspicion than other people were. But it also made me realize what the stakes are, and who held more power. Because for the Christian Right, they understand that they’ll be smeared by the left anyway, and they’re confident enough in their power that they can let that happen. But for the left there, they don’t have that liberty.

How would you even anticipate that element of the political dynamic? It’s hard to go in knowing that.

Mosher: But immediately I felt that if I hadn’t lived away from the South for so long, of course I would have felt that way. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all. But I’ve lived in San Francisco and Portland and these little bubble areas. This project was really important to me; I felt like I was going back to when I was a kid, getting the shit beat out of me. Engaging that material, and dealing with something other than, oh no the rents are going up. Those are serious struggles, but they’re different struggles. And I think for anyone who’s gay, especially of a certain generation, it’s a serious thing. It’s not easy for a lot of younger people who are outside of the South, or other very rural areas, to understand what it takes to struggle that way.

Young opponent of the Eureka Springs anti-discrimination ordinance.

Photo: Donal Mosher

Was it uncomfortable to be there for you? Mosher: No, I loved it.

Palmieri: It’s beautiful there. But it’s also such an enclave. Once you go outside of Eureka Springs, you’re in a different place, it’s not as tolerant. All the loose marbles are in Eureka Springs. Or as they like to say, they’re the hole in the buckle of the Bible belt.

Mosher: I could drink whiskey and quote the Bible — I don’t get to do that in Portland very often.

That liberal Christian voice, which is so important for the conversation, gets drowned out of the conversation. But it’s there, it’s within congregations, it’s within churches.

Mosher: The whole town, from church to church, you can get various shades. There’s a preacher who didn’t make it into the cut, who is squarely in the middle. He’s not against the principle of the ordinance, but he was against the particular mode of how it was set up and what it was doing to the community. He was the most Christian, gentle kind of shepherd. He talked to us about how he had come to appreciate his homosexual neighbors because of the way they went to church, and how they showed the church love. That’s something you don’t hear about — everyone gets divided. The thing that interests me the most is when he says, “And I saw Christ in them.” That constant framework of Christ — everybody down there is either looking through or having to look around it. Everyone thinks of it as a viewfinder, but it’s really a kaleidoscope. And that’s what’s really interesting about that area. Especially for a leftist, intellectual or atheistic audience, very few of us look through this lens of the role model of Christ, and bending language around Christ. One of the comic moments is Randall Christie comparing his bad day to whippings and bleedings, which seems ridiculous — although we’ve all made such ridiculous claims ourselves — but he’s sincere.

It’s their language.

Palmieri: It’s the language of their lives. It’s the language of the burden of Christ. So it makes sense that evangelicals would feel that they’re under some burdensome pressure. Because that’s their main story, the story they derive their beliefs from. So it’s important for people to be tolerant of the fact that that’s their operating space.

Mosher: But it’s also a political trick by savvy people who understand how to manipulate their kind. And this is why it’s really interesting.

Photography: Donal Mosher

IF/Then Shorts, in partnership with Hulu Documentary Films calls short-documentary filmmakers based in North America to take part in the Inaugural IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab. This lab will channel Hulu and IF/Then’s shared vision of creating a new pipeline of diverse talent and incubating strong voices who will be the next class of non-fiction storytellers.

Program Details:

Four filmmaking teams will be chosen to participate in a one-year lab focused on short-documentary production and career training. For the first six months, filmmakers will be individually mentored through production by IF/Then staff and take part in monthly virtual cohort trainings, consisting of keynotes from industry heavy-hitters and edit consultations. Upon rough cut of their projects, filmmakers will be invited to debut their works-in-progress to an invitation-only audience and receive feedback. For the remainder of the program, filmmakers will finalize their cuts and receive high-level festival and distribution strategy consultations, along with guidance creating their publicity materials, and pro-bono legal support. Hulu will have the right to review the projects for potential acquisition or further development.

Each team will receive a $25,000 grant to use for the production of their film.

This opportunity will be open to individuals living in/from North America, with an emphasis on Black and/or Indigenous filmmakers, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, recent immigrants, and individuals who identify as having a disability. We will welcome any and all stories from underrepresented voices, with a strong preference around subjects related to gender, the LGTBQ community or issues unique to the BIPOC community.

Project Eligibility:

  • In addition to the identity eligibility of the maker and the theme, eligible IF/Then Shorts projects must meet the following criteria:
  • Be an original short documentary with a final duration of 10-20 minutes
  • Be completed within six to nine months of receiving the IF/Then Shorts grant
  • Be factually accurate, follow best practices in documentary ethics, and be designed for a U.S. audience
  • Be driven by (a) compelling character(s), with access to the character(s) secured
  • Be presented in English or subtitled in English
  • Have no prior distribution attached and be able to participate in the IF/Then Shorts distribution initiative
  • All stories and storytellers coming from countries and territories in North America. This includes the United States and its territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa,) Canada, Greenland, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela, and countries in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Saba, St. Andres and Providencia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.


The application portal will open on January 15, 2021 and close at 11:59pm EST on Feb 15th.

  • January 15, 2021: Open call for IF/Then x Hulu Short Documentary Lab
  • March 31, 2021: Finalists announced
  • April 5, 2021: Virtual Program Kickoff


Submissions are now closed.

Please direct any questions regarding this application to

Starting July 22, IF/Then Shorts has a new home at Field of Vision. Joining Field of Vision will be IF/Then Shorts Program Director Chloe Gbai and Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke. Founded in 2017 with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, IF/Then Shorts is a fund and mentorship program that supports storytellers in breaking barriers to access, exposure, and sustainability in the media landscape. IF/Then works with creators who experience inequity based on factors such as race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, ethnicity, age, citizenship, and/or geography.

IF/Then Shorts taps into the need for broader geographical representation in the stories that get told through its regional pitch events. It holistically supports short documentary storytellers in their creation of compelling, character-led, community-inspired stories that embody the breadth and diversity of the people and places they represent.

The program addresses the imbalance of representation, perspective, power, compensation, and career longevity among independent filmmakers and media artists. IF/Then Shorts leverages access, expertise, network, and brand to address these challenges. Through grants, mentorship, industry connections, and professional development, IF/Then Shorts helps to ensure that storytellers from a multitude of backgrounds have access to the resources and tools they need to tell their stories, connect with audiences, and thrive in their careers. IF/Then Shorts was previously part of the Tribeca Film Institute, which is planning to pause operations indefinitely in September. "IF/Then Shorts is an incredible program, and one that’s vital to the field," said Charlotte Cook, Field of Vision's Co-Founder and Executive Producer. "We’re so glad that they can find their new home with Field of Vision. The program’s values align perfectly with Field of Vision, and further our overall commitment to shorts and advocating for filmmakers. Chloe and Caitlin are phenomenal, and I feel so lucky that they’ll be joining our team."

IF/Then Program Director Chloe Gbai said of the move: "We’re so excited that thanks to the MacArthur Foundation and Field of Vision we can keep this funding and development pipeline open to diverse, creative nonfiction talent past TFI’s pause this September. This program will have a new life and is ready to uplift the voices that we need to champion during these interesting times."

Supervising Producer Caitlin Mae Burke added: "As a former Field of Vision filmmaker myself, I know how beneficial it is to work with these trailblazers in the short documentary space. I'm overjoyed that all of our active projects and future supported filmmakers will benefit so immensely from this move, and we look forward to the tremendous growth potential for IF/Then possible under the Field of Vision umbrella." IF/Then is currently holding an open call for the North Shorts Grant and Fellowship, in partnership with Points North Institute, The Screening Room, Jigsaw Productions, and the LEF Foundation, for regional filmmakers in the American Northeast. About Chloe Gbai Chloe Gbai is the Director of IF/Then Shorts. Previously, as the POV Shorts and Streaming Producer, she launched POV Shorts, which earned POV its third documentary short Oscar® nomination, two News & Doc Emmy nominations and an IDA Awards nomination for Best Short Form Series.  She has previously worked at Teen Vogue and Viacom, as well as served on review panels and juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, Sheffield Doc/Fest, ITVS, IDA Awards, Black Public Media, Creative Capital, and various other film organizations. She is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and a member-in-residence of the Meerkat Media Collective.

About Caitlin Mae Burke Caitlin Mae Burke is an Emmy-winning producer. Her films have screened and won awards at top tier festivals including Sundance, Berlinale, and Tribeca Film Festival and have been broadcast across the US and around the world. Her work has screened at MoMA, The Museum of the Moving Image, and in movie theaters internationally. She is an inaugural inductee to DOC NYC's "40 Under 40" and alumna of Berlinale Talents. IF/Then currently has funding opportunities available for filmmakers. Please find more information here.

Field of Vision has partnered with Doc Society and Sundance Institute to launch Independent Documentary: Filming in the Time of Corona, a new Risk Assessment Guide for independent documentary filmmakers who are considering starting or resuming production during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

Many filmmakers are asking themselves — and others in the documentary field — the big question: Should I be filming at all?

As our field discusses and debates this particular question — and its ethical and and public health implications — Field of Vision, Doc Society, Sundance Institute, and our co-signatories are offering a “living document” that provides guidelines, a checklist, and questions for independent documentary film teams to ask themselves, each other and their partners. It is our hope that this guide will help filmmakers make informed decisions and help keep everyone safe.

We’d like to acknowledge our gratitude to all of the the co-signatories of the Risk Assessment Guide, who helped consult on, and improve the guide: Asian American Documentary Network (ADoc), Asociación de Documentalistas de Puerto Rico (ADocPR), ACOS (A Culture Of Safety) Alliance, Ambulante, American Documentary/POV, Black Public Media, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Chicken & Egg, DOCUBOX, Impact Partners, Indian Documentary Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, National Association of Latino Producers (NALIP), Pacific Islanders in Communications, Perspective Fund, Scottish Documentary Institute, Topic, Vision Maker Media: Native Stories for Public Broadcasting, and others.

This is a rapidly changing situation as well as a long-term reality. Those of us in the documentary field will need to be mindful, flexible, and diligent as our risk assessment continues to evolve in order to keep not only our community safe but also the communities we collaborate with in the stories we tell. This new normal is unprecedented, but our documentary community is nothing if not committed to responding to this profoundly unique situation.

The guide will be updated as the situation develops and as we receive additional feedback from filmmakers and support organizations.

The final round of funding is now closed.

For this final round of funding, we will continue prioritizing providing support to filmmakers of color and filmmakers from other marginalized communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Field of Vision and Topic Studios have created a $250,000 fund to provide grants for freelancers working in the Documentary field. The fund will distribute unrestricted grants of up to $2000 to support personal financial needs during the COVID19 pandemic to freelancers who have experienced hardship from loss of income or opportunity as a result of the pandemic

Dates and Deadlines


The fund will be open for applications from Wed April 8th from 9am ET until Friday April 10th at 6pm ET or until we reach 1,000 applications. You can find the link to the application at the bottom of this page.


The fund will be open for applications from May 6th from 9am ET until May 8th at 6pm ET or until we reach 750 applications.

Notification of grant approval will be within 20 days of the fund closing, and payments will be processed within 30 days of notification of a grant. June The fund will be open for a final round of applications from June 10th from 9am ET until June 12th at 6pm ET or until we reach 500 applications.


Be able to demonstrate work as a freelancer within the documentary field in roles such as:

- Directors - Producers (This includes Associate Producers) - DPs - Editors - Sound Recordists/Designers - Researchers - Assistants - Critics & Writers who have covered documentaries - Publicists

Other freelance roles will be accepted if they meet the rest of the criteria

Provide a link (examples - IMDB page, Film Review, Direct link to project) that shows professional work in the field.

The fund is eligible for artists internationally, however you must be able to receive funding electronically (we are not able to issue checks), and priority will be given to countries and regions of which there isn’t government freelance assistance that you are eligible for. If you have not been eligible for government assistance, please state that in your application.

Students who are currently enrolled are not eligible.

People who are currently in employment are not eligible.

Please note: We have made every effort to reduce the amount of information, paperwork and requirements for funding and have tried to make the fund as open and accessible as possible. We are largely operating on a trust-based system and really urge you to work with us on being able to maintain this. It’s extremely important to us to be able to get funding to the freelancers that need it the most. Please answer all questions thoroughly and accurately so that we can ensure the funds are allocated to help as many people in need as possible.

Information Needed:

- Demonstrated professional work within the field - Usual income source - Description of situation - Maximum amount requested - Minimum amount requested - What the funding would be used for - Location

Please note: It’s important to include a maximum and minimum amount requested. Also, please note that grants may be taxable as income under the law that applies to you. We will issue Form 1099s for grants of more than $600.

The Process

As always, it is important to us that filmmakers lead how we operate and respond, and so the process will begin with a blind review of applications by a panel of filmmakers and producers, with a simultaneous review by the Field of Vision and Topic Studios teams. Those recommendations will then provide the recommended list for funding, which will then be reviewed once more before contacting the fund recipients.

We will only be contacting those who have been allocated funding.

On receipt of the grant acceptance please expect up to 30 days to receive payment. In order to issue the grants we will need a W-9 or W8-BEN tax form and an invoice which includes wire transfer details.

UPDATE: Our first 200 meeting slots have been booked. However, you can still sign up for the waitlist at the links below as we work to add additional appointment times. Coming this spring, the Field of Vision team will again offer a virtual "office hours" service for the documentary community. As we’re in a moment of uncertainty, we want to make ourselves available to filmmakers in any way we can. We understand that the industry is experiencing a lot of upheaval, and that this is a particularly difficult time for freelancers and people working independently.

We will be allocating time every weekday to have video meetings and calls. We’ll be prioritizing filmmakers who’ve been affected by festival postponements and production changes, but will also be available to offer a range of mentorship and consultation around a variety of areas.

At Field of Vision we like filmmakers to lead and improve how we work. We were inspired by Jeanie Finlay, who has opened her time to mentoring after an upcoming film shoot had to be cancelled. Jeanie is working on a new film that we’re extremely honoured to be supporting. 

We are a small team and will try our best to make ourselves available to as many filmmakers and producers as possible. If any other members of our community would also like to donate their time, we are happy to facilitate this as well, so please feel free to reach out to us.

The areas which we would like to offer consultation on are below: 

  • General mentorship
  • Feedback on proposals and grant applications
  • Project Development
  • Online Distribution
  • Digital Engagement
  • Partnerships
  • Pitch Training
  • Editing
  • Technology & Digital Security
  • Distribution
  • Editorial Feedback
  • Festival Strategy
  • Career Guidance

This is not just open to filmmakers wanting to submit work for us to review, or filmmakers we have worked with before. If you feel you would benefit from time with our team on any project you’re working on please feel free to reach out. There are more details on how to take part below.



If you would like to have a virtual meeting about any of the above, please follow this link to book a time:

(We will also be adapting to demand, and will create a waitlist, and/or increase availability if needed.)

Submissions & Pitches

While we are still managing and prioritizing our regular submissions system, we would also like to make time for project and pitch meetings.

To sign up for a pitch meeting with us, please make sure you have submitted through our system prior to the meeting, using the link below:

Once you have submitted through our submissions form, please sign up for a meeting slot here. NB: We won’t be able to take any meetings around potential projects until you’ve submitted through the system. If you’re not ready to discuss a specific project, or are looking for more general advice, please use the first form.

Please bear with us as we begin rolling out our virtual office hours service. This initiative came together very quickly, so there may be hiccups. We just wanted to offer something to start. 

As we navigate these uncertain times, what is certain is that we are a strong community of creatives and storytellers. We have shown time and again how resourceful we are, how dedicated we are to our craft, art form and field, and how supportive we can be of each other. 

Please stay safe everyone, The Field of Vision Team


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