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Spread Peace with ScreenPeace

Miko Malabute | Thursday, January 31, 2013


Starting Jan. 31, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, in association with the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC), will present the fifth annual ScreenPeace Film Festival, a series of critically acclaimed films revolving around the theme of nonviolent resistance.

Hal Cuberston, executive director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, said he believes in the influential power of film, especially for highlighting worldly problems.

“The purpose of the ScreenPeace Film Festival is to challenge students, faculty and members of the community to reflect more deeply on peace issues around the world,” Cubertson said. “Film is an excellent medium for provoking insights into other societies and cultures.”

Cubertson said that the films comprising the festival are specifically chosen to give a wide variety of views that all emphasize a common theme, this year’s being nonviolent resistance.

“We select the movies with DPAC,” Cubertson said. “We look for recent films that focus on significant peace issues in diverse locations and situations, giving particular attention to topics addressed in current peace studies classes.  We also look for high quality films in terms of content and production. This year one of the films, ‘5 Broken Cameras’, was nominated for an Oscar, and another, ‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’, was on the shortlist for the Oscar.”

Indeed, those two films certainly emphasize the diverse locations and situations Kroc and DPAC call for in articulating a universal message. “5 Broken Cameras” is centered on a first-hand account of non-violent resistance in the Palestinian town of Bil’in. It focuses on a Palestinian farmer and his family’s progression over five years of cultural tensions and aggression as Israelis threatened to forcibly settle and impose their will in Palestine.

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” meanwhile, is set in contemporary China, where the camera follows Ai Weiwei in what the film’s website describes as a film “against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system … Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio and held him in secret detention.”

On an interesting tangent, the background of the film’s website shows someone – presumably Weiwei – giving a lovely and heart-warming one-fingered salute to a candid scene of China.

These are certainly two very interesting and well-respected films, and they are only two of the five films set to be a part of the lineup for ScreenPeace. Following those two films are “How to Start a Revolution,” shown on Friday night after “Ai Weiwei”, then on Saturday night the film festival concludes with “The Loving Story” and “Normal!”. Cubertson says each film will be followed by a discussion with a faculty member with relevant expertise. These discussions will help link the films to the classroom and will provide viewers with a forum to share their reactions to the films.

Tickets are free for this event, in an attempt to promote activism and awareness about the theme.

“We hope people will deepen their engagement with current challenges facing the world,” Cubertson said.  

The ScreenPeace Film Festival continues until Feb. 2. Although free, tickets are required and will be available at DPAC.