Sunday, April 18, 2010

Film as Truth to Power

Today I saw a film at the Atlanta Film Festival which reminded me why I love the medium of film so much.  Film allows you to see and experience the world in a way you may not in any other medium.  The movie was a documentary called The Last Survivor which chronicles four individuals who survived genocide-an octogenarian who survived the Holocaust; a young Congolese Tutsi who fled the genocide in his country at age 14; a Rwandan woman who lost her whole family at the age of nine; and a young man from the Sudan who is living as a refugee in Israel.  I remember clearly what I was doing in the spring of 1994--I was graduating from college and looking forward to law school.  While I was making plans, a million people were dying in Rwanda at the hands of their neighbors.  And the world did nothing.  I don't remember anything in the news cycle about Rwanda at that time, but I distinctly remember watching O.J. Simpson being chased down an LA freeway.  Watching these survivors as they pick up the pieces of their lives is hopeful, but I can't imagine what it is like to survive such modern atrocities.  And these filmmakers, to their credit, did not  paint a completely rosy, Kumbayah picture.  They juxtaposed the subjects' stories with pictures of the dead.  They showed the truth.  Genocide is murder and it's an ugly, grisly business.   Sometimes the mainstream media only tells us part of the truth or packages the truth in such a way to make it benign and easily palatable, leaving us stymied and ineffective.  This film was powerful and incited questions and motivation to act.  That is the real power of film.  Bravo.

Contact 1-800-GENOCIDE to make your voice heard to stop genocide.

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