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Search for Common Ground at the Zimbabwe Film Festival

2011 September 28

“Finding Common Ground” is this year’s theme of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF), which runs from Friday, September 30 to October 7. SFCG has been working with ZIFF to support this platform for dialogue through entertainment.

Besides showing films in numerous locations, ZIFF is also putting on workshops to train young filmmakers. In these workshops ZIFF will use extracts from The Team and SFCG’s country director Eunice Njovana has been invited to speak on the work of Search during one of the training sessions. In addition, ZIFF is showing the trailer of The Team at their  screening locations including those outside of Harare.

The focus of the film festival is Finding Common Ground within the African continent and 60 films featured tell many stories through fiction and documentary.

The stories portray individuals and communities on journeys toward reconciliation and depict how forgiveness has changed not only their daily relationships but in some cases (like South Africa) a whole country.

As We Forgive, from Rwanda follows two Rwandan women who come face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families in the 1994 genocide. Can survivors truly forgive the killers who destroyed their families? Director Laura Waters Hinson and narrator Mia Farrow explore these topics through the lives of four neighbors and their extraordinary journey to forgiveness.

Invictus, the famous Clint Eastwood-directed South African story shows how Nelson Mandela achieved reconciliation and national unity via the universal language of sport — specifically rugby. Long Night’s Journey Into Day, also focuses on South Africa, examines the nature of truth and forgiveness in its appraisal of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which brought together victims and perpetrators to find the truth, seeking justice that is restorative rather than retributive.

Similarly, the American and Irish film, The Power of Forgiveness, explores stories about Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland, victims of 9/11, and group and individual responses to murder and violence.

The Kenyan film Taking Root, portrays the story of Wangari Maathai, who sadly just passed away earlier this week. She was the first African woman Nobel Peace Prize winner who took her first steps toward social justice by planting trees for fuel, shade, and food. This rural Kenyan woman became instrumental in reclaiming her country’s land from 100 years of deforestation, providing new sources of food and income to rural communities, and ultimately empowering women to play a role in the politics of their country.

Another approach takes the Japanese film Love and Honor, by examining the relationship between a young blind samurai and his wife, who makes a personal sacrifice to defend her husband’s honor.

A list of venues in Harare has been published by the The Zimbabwe Standard.

All films speak of the liberating power of healing and forgiving and the transformative process of finding common ground with those from whom you are divided. The organizers of the festival express their hope that the films will inspire the viewers to think more deeply about peaceful reconciliation in their own lives.

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