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Film festival promotes peace

| Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The eighth annual ScreenPeace Film Festival will show five critically acclaimed films in the Browning Cinema this weekend from Thursday to Saturday.

The screenings are presented by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Ted Barron, senior associate director of DPAC, said the festival features a broad selection of films that reflect a range of global interests. He said this year’s films examine social issues and political events in Cambodia, Syria, Nigeria, Vietnam and the former Soviet Union.

“The ScreenPeace Film Festival is designed to highlight films which draw attention to peace building efforts both in the United States and around the world,” Barron said.

Hal Culbertson, executive director of the Kroc Institute, said the festival provides attendees a unique opportunity to see films otherwise unavailable in national theaters.

“ScreenPeace is an attempt to bring a number of new documentary films to campus,” he said. “We try to bring films that we think both students and faculty will be interested in that also address peace and conflict issues from around the world.”

This year’s ScreenPeace Festival features five documentaries that utilize a variety of filmmaking styles to convey themes of peace and nonviolence. Faculty members will lead discussions immediately following each film.

“Our opening film, ‘The Missing Picture,’ mixes together file footage of the Cambodian genocide, of which there is very little, with clay figurines to capture the filmmakers’ memories,” Culbertson said. “It was up for an Academy Award last year and provides an interesting look at the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.”

Both Culbertson and Barron said they are also excited to show “The Man Who Saved the World,” a hybrid documentary that recounts the story of a Soviet official credited with helping avert a third world war.

“’The Man Who Saved the World’ is a documentary, but it uses a lot of narrative reenactments of the original event to create an interesting effect,” Culbertson said. “We’re very pleased to be hosting the producers of the film, Mark Romeo and Christian Bruun, who will introduce their piece.”

“The Missing Picture” will be shown Thursday night at 7 p.m. The festival continues Friday at 6:30 p.m. with “Return to Homs,” the story of a teenager’s fight to protect the captive inhabitants of the besieged city of Homs, Syria. Then, at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, ScreenPeace will show “The Supreme Price,” a political thriller detailing the story of the family of Nigeria’s 1993 president, M.K.O. Abiola.

Saturday’s screenings begin with “The Man Who Saved the World” at 6:30 p.m. followed by “The Last Day in Vietnam,” a film chronicling the final days of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, at 9:30 p.m.

The film festival augments students’ classroom experiences by providing additional perspectives on historical and modern events related to peace studies, Culbertson said. Oftentimes, professors with the Kroc Institute integrate the documentaries into their curriculums.

“I think the main purpose [of the film festival] is to enhance classroom learning with films that bring realities from around the world to our students and faculty,” Culbertson said. “It’s an enhancement to learning from books. Films have the ability to transcend the classroom and provide a window to the rest of the world.”

Although tickets to ScreenPeace are free, Culbertson said students should reserve seats ahead of time to ensure admittance. Last year, for the first time in the festival’s history, every seat for every film was reserved beforehand.

“We have received overwhelmingly positive reactions to the festival,” Barron said. “Students are hungry to learn about ways that they can make a difference in the world. The films we present provide an avenue for them to better understand the world at large.”

Tickets can be reserved over the phone, at the box office or online at performingarts.nd.edu.

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, the Observer's current Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's a former Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

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