Documentary Films about Interfaith Understanding and Reconciliation
Written by UPF - International
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Showing a documentary film followed by a guided discussion is an effective way to engage people in active learning and dialogue.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell ($24.95 for DVD from amazon.com; on netflix.com)
Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the 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. As the rebel noose tightened around the capital city of Monrovia, thousands of women – ordinary mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters, both Christian and Muslim – formed a thin but unshakable line between the opposing forces. Armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions, they faced down the killers who had turned Liberia into hell on earth. In one memorable scene, the women barricaded the site of stalled peace talks in Ghana and refused to move until a deal was done. Their demonstrations culminated in Taylor’s exile and the rise of Africa’s first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Inspiring and uplifting, Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a compelling example of how grassroots activism can alter the history of nations. Grassroots leader Leymah Gbowee and President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their work. (72 minutes)
This documentary depicts the reconciliation between two Nigerians who fought in opposing militias during religious conflict: Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye. It shows their change of heart and the peace-making initiatives which have flowed from it. The film, narrated by Rageh Omaar, shows that it is possible for the perpetrators of interreligious violence to become instigators of peace. It is both a story of forgiveness and a case study of grass-root initiatives to rebuild communities torn apart by conflict. (39 minutes)
More than one thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes, following disputed elections in Kenya at the end of 2007. Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye – former militia leaders turned peace-makers from Nigeria – were invited to mediate in the worst-affected district. This documentary depicts their dramatic bid to bring healing and reconciliation after death and destruction. The film depicts the dynamics of an effective, African approach to conflict resolution between rival ethnic groups. It demonstrates that durable, peaceful coexistence between communities formerly in conflict is feasible in Kenya and beyond. Above all, the film gives hope that grassroots communities can reject violence and rebuild peace and prosperity. (38 minutes)
In English, French, and German
To watch a 6-minute excerpt, click here.
A resource guide for practitioners is included with the DVD.
Hiding and Seeking ($29.95 for DVD from amazon.com; on netflix.com)
Filmmaker Menachem Daum is an Orthodox Jew from New York City with an atypical sense of humanism and a firm belief that all people--Jew and Gentile alike--are brothers and basically good at heart. His sons, ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, disagree, citing centuries of antisemitism and the Holocaust. Daum takes his sons to Poland to see if they can find the family which hid their grandfather for over two years and saved him and his brothers from the Holocaust. He seeks to teach his sons about the perils of putting up walls to keep those they deem dangerous outside. After he introduces them to the Polish family who helped their grandfather during the Holocaust, they discover the value in building bridges. (84 minutes)
For a discussion guide, click here.
Encounter Point ($24.99 for DVD from amazon.com; on netflix.com)
This documentary follows peace activists trying to work together across the Israeli-Palestinian divide. It prominently features Ali Abu Awwad and Robi Damelin, who have both overcome great loss to become activists for peace and non-violence in their own communities and in cross-cultural exchanges. (85 minutes)
Subtitles are available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, and Hebrew.
For a classroom guide, click here.
For free related 53-minute audio interview and transcript from American Public Media, click here.
Different Books, Common Word ($25 for DVD from ethicsdaily.com)
From Boston to the Bible Belt and from Beaumont to the beltway of Washington, DC, Baptists and Muslims are changing history with the way they change each other. Tired of being defined by extremists, some Baptists and Muslims in the United States have sought and found common ground: the common word in both traditions to love God and love neighbor. (60 minutes)
For a discussion guide click here.
From Atheism to Zoroastrianism, people draw on different belief systems to guide the ways they think and act. How can we respond to this important element of diversity in our communities? What are the risks involved? What do we stand to gain? Join families, faith communities, and others as they explore these important questions and learn together. You may realize that you have more to offer to this conversation than you think! This documentary adopts a child-centered approach to responding to diverse beliefs in community. It was made possible with funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia. (19 minutes)
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Kaduna, Nigeria—The UPF-Nigeria secretary general has commended the outgoing Kaduna State governor for supporting peace initiatives and for his conduct in accepting defeat in recent general elections.
Montreal, Canada—An evening of prayers and readings from the Bible and the Koran took place at the Église Sainte-Trinité in Vaudreuil-Dorion in Quebec on May 6.
Bern, Switzerland—Africa’s contributions to world peace were the focus of UPF-Switzerland’s commemoration of Africa Day.