What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home – injured physically and psychologically – and build a life anew? Danfung Dennis’ Hell and Back Again is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers these questions with a power and intimacy no previous film about the conflict in Afghanistan has been able to achieve. Working Films, with the presenting partners of Danfung Dennis and his team, The Fledgling Fund and Impact Partners, is developing an audience and community engagement campaign to take the film out of the sometimes-rarified realm of independent documentaries and embed this moving story directly in crucial new efforts to support veterans and to educate the general public about vets’ extraordinary service and their needs on returning home. Robert West, co-founder and executive director of Working Films, and Mallory Rusch, communications director for Mission Continues, one of the campaign partners, presented background on our efforts on a webinar for PBS stations hosted by the National Center for Media Engagement. Listen to the archived webinar here.
Hell and Back Again will premiere on PBS’ five-time Emmy Award-winning series Independent Lens on May 24 at 10 PM, providing an excellent opportunity to reach millions of general audience viewers around the Memorial Day weekend.
On Tuesday, October 11th, Women, War & Peace, a 5-part PBS series, will premiere at 10pm (in New York City, but please check your local listings.) The series continues every Tuesday night ending on November 8th with a final overview hour written and produced by Peter Bull (of Dirty Business), titled War Redefined. Watch the clip below:
In the second week, October 18th, the series will spotlight Pray the Devil Back to Hell which features Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leyman Gbowee who won the award jointly with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman. The three women won this years Nobel Peace Prize award “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Working Films led Pray the Devil Back to Hell’s community engagement efforts in select cities during their theatrical release.
Here is the full schedule of the series with descriptions on each week’s feature:
Tues 10/11: Bosnia:I Came to Testify is the moving story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned and raped by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke silence and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law. Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war.
Tues 10/18: Liberia:Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the astonishing story of the Liberian women who took on the warlords and regime of dictator Charles Taylor in the midst of a brutal civil war, and won a once unimaginable peace for their shattered country in 2003.
Tues 10/25: Afghanistan: When the U.S. troop surge was announced in late 2009, women in Afghanistan knew that the ground was being laid for peace talks with the Taliban. Peace Unveiled follows three women in Afghanistan who are risking their lives to make sure that women’s rights don’t get traded away in the deal.
Tues 11/1: Colombia:The War We Are Living travels to Cauca, a mountainous region in Colombia’s Pacific southwest, where two extraordinary Afro-Colombian women are braving a violent struggle over their gold-rich lands. They are standing up for a generation of Colombians who have been terrorized and forcibly displaced as a deliberate strategy of war.
Tues 11/8: Overview:War Redefined, the capstone of Women, War & Peace, challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are mens’ domain through incisive interviews with leading thinkers, Secretaries of State and seasoned survivors of war and peace-making. Interviewees include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Liberian peace activist (and just-awarded Nobel laureate) Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; and globalization expert Moisés Naím.
Earlier this month I attended the Community Strategic Training Initiative (CSTI) hosted by the Western States Center in Portland, OR. This three-day seminar featured day-long workshops on everything from dismantling racism to introductions to community organizing. During my time there I met lots of great folks doing amazing work, one of which was Lauren Raheja who works with the Center for Intercultural Organizing in Portland. Lauren clued me in to a documentary that it seems like I should have already known about but had somehow missed: Divided We Fall.The film tells the story of hate violence in the aftermath of 9/11 and explores the question: who counts as American? I haven’t had a chance to watch the entire film yet, but the trailer and clips on the website are powerful and there are many opportunities for creating positive change.