News / USA

Silverdocs Film Festival Explores Challenges of Global 'Peacebuilding'

Now in its eighth year, the Silverdocs film festival presented 102 films representing 54 countries including a special 'Peace Building on Screen' program made up of six special films.
Now in its eighth year, the Silverdocs film festival presented 102 films representing 54 countries including a special 'Peace Building on Screen' program made up of six special films.

Multimedia

The Silverdocs film festival is widely regarded as one of the most important film festivals in the country. Each year, the festival offers independently-produced non-fiction films from around the world, attracting filmmakers and moviegoers alike. The festival is presented by the American Film Institute, and is sponsored by the Discovery Channel.

This year, the festival showcased 102 films, representing the work of artists from 54 countries. It also featured a special "Peacebuilding on Screen" program: a series of films selected in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace, a congressionally-funded, independent institution that promotes the non-violent resolution of conflicts around the world. The six films featured at Silverdocs all had non-violent struggle and peaceful resolution as their central theme.

Israel and the Palestinian Territories

“I hope this film can have the same effect on its viewers as the village’s efforts had on those who experienced it – inspiring more people to believe in, cover, support and join the unarmed struggles taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem today,
“I hope this film can have the same effect on its viewers as the village’s efforts had on those who experienced it – inspiring more people to believe in, cover, support and join the unarmed struggles taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem today,

In the film Budrus, award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha follows Ayed Morrar, a Palestinian villager turned community organizer, as he leads fellow residents of Budrus in peaceful protests to save their village from destruction by Israel's Separation Barrier.  The controversial network of fences and 8-meter-tall concrete walls is being built by the state of Israel to secure hundreds of kilometers of its border with the Palestinian West Bank.

The non-violent demonstrations against the Barrier gain traction as women villagers, local Fatah and Hamas members and Israeli peace activists join in the struggle.

"Combining tactics borrowed from the first intifada in the 1980s with the active participation of Israeli and international activists, this movement, though still fragile, carries great potential for the region," said filmmaker Julia Bacha in a statement on the film's website.

In My so-Called Enemy, filmmaker Lisa Gossels follows six girls from Israel and the Palestinian Territories during a week at a peacebuilding camp in the United States. The camera then follows the girls over the next six years, bearing witness to the long-term impact the camp experience has had on their lives at home.

Africa

War Don Don deals with the aftermath of the devastating civil war in Sierra Leone that erupted in 1991 and lasted eleven years. The film, who's title means "the war is over," follows the trial of Issa Sessay, a former rebel leader accused of crimes against humanity, as an international court seeks to bring him to justice.

In a statement on the film's website, award-winning director/producer Rebecca Richman Cohen said she was "fascinated by the range of roles that one man could assume amidst the intensity of such a brutal conflict."

In another film from Africa, Grace, Millie, Lucy...Child Soldiers filmmaker Raymonde Provencher tackles the plight of girl soldiers in Northern Uganda, as told through the voices of several survivors. Grace Akallo, a former child soldier and a central character in the story, explains that in Northern Uganda, children have for years been abducted, tortured and forced to come back to their own families, to kill.

"When people talk about child soldiers," she said at a post-screening discussion at Silverdocs, "they don't realize that 50 percent of these child soldiers are girls."

"They're forced to become child soldiers, and child wives," she said.

Central America and Southeast Asia

The peace building strand of films at Silverdocs also included a film from Guatemala called La Isla - Archives of a Tragedy.

This skillfully-crafted film deals with "the crimes against humanity, genocide and forced disappearances committed by national security forces against members of the opposition, as revealed in the secret police archives discovered accidently some years ago," said filmmaker Uli Stelzner.

And in the only short film in the series, called Found, filmmaker Paramita Nath chronicles a young woman's poetic response to the words and images she finds in a scrapbook that her father kept during his time in a refugee camp in Thailand during the 1970s.

Silverdocs and the United States Institute of Peace

“What was important about the partnership with USIP is that it’s not just about the films and their issues, it’s about the craft that the filmmaker is bringing to telling that story,” Sky Sitney, Artistic Director, AFI-Discovery-Silverdocs.
“What was important about the partnership with USIP is that it’s not just about the films and their issues, it’s about the craft that the filmmaker is bringing to telling that story,” Sky Sitney, Artistic Director, AFI-Discovery-Silverdocs.

Sky Sitney, artistic director of the Silverdocs festival, says partnering with the United States Institute of Peace is a unique way of bridging the theme of peacebuilding to the medium of film.

"Connecting with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) – which is on the ground dedicated to global peacebuilding – connecting their expertise in that arena to the power of documentaries to get audiences engaged through character-driven stories, has been a really meaningful partnership," Sitney said.

Tara Sonenshine, executive vice president of the United States Institute of Peace, says the USIP has for many years recognized the power of film and media to change minds, change attitudes and change behavior.

"So this collaboration," notes Sonenshine, "is an outgrowth of a long commitment the Institute has had to the importance of film and media, not only in peacebuilding itself, but in educating, informing, inspiring and engaging people in the subject of making peace."   

"The common theme of all of these films," added Sonenshine, "is that making peace is tough, and requires patience and understanding, but it is worth investing in."

Both Sitney and Sonenshine hope that their mutual interest in film and peacebuilding can lead to future collaborative efforts.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid