This weekend’s Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College had little to do with plumbing, but its content left me drained and pumped both! Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari presented a thoughtful view of the peacemaking process on Friday evening, but his center-stage conversation with former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik was a tremendous dialogue between two giants from relatively small countries. There is room for everyone at the peace table!
Despite the presence of many excellent speakers and topics, however, the exhaustion that I experienced over the weekend stemmed from two movie screenings. These were films that educated, haunted and inspired the viewer, and I don’t know what else could be asked of a film. It’s not in my nature to recommend films to my friends since we all experience art in very different ways. But I cannot imagine any human being seeing these movies and not being moved.
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” is as intense a thriller as one can find. It is the true account of warring factions in Liberia in the early 2000’s who are confronted by an incredibly courageous group of peace-seeking women. The women’s resolve and risk will leave you breathless. (As an emotional punctuation to the Peace Prize Forum, the leader of this amazing group of women, Leymah Gbowee, was the final plenary speaker on Saturday afternoon.) Everyone should see this film!
“Ana’s Playground” is a short piece (20 minutes or so) which was filmed last November in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. It’s an allegorical film about the impact of war upon children and will take you for a roller coaster ride of emotions from start to end. Everyone should see this film!
Often we find it difficult to navigate the news and context of conflicts in the world because they are far-off, full of complexities and history which we cannot understand, and it’s just easier to not pay attention. (Such were attitudes in the early days of the rise of Adolph Hitler.) But in these two movies, we have the medium which modern societies seem to favor for their education, and two messages that will create indelible impressions about war and peace.
The Academy Awards event just happened to be scheduled during the same weekend in which I saw two movies that were truly worthy of global recognition….