This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," at the Champaign Public Library, September 06, 2011. Henry Radcliffe from Illinois Public Media moderated the discussion. Susan Ogwal, case manager at the Champaign Consortium and Irene Aninye, PhD candidate at the University of Illinois were on the discussion panel. There were about 70 people in the audience. Pray the Devil Back to Hell is the extraordinary story of a small band of Liberian women who came together in the midst of a bloody civil war, took on the violent warlords and corrupt Charles Taylor regime, and won a long-awaited peace for their shattered country in 2003. The women of Liberia are living proof that moral courage and non-violent resistance can succeed, even where the best efforts of traditional diplomacy have failed. Their demonstrations culminated in the exile of Charles Taylor and the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female head of state, and marked the vanguard of a new wave of women taking control of their political destiny around the world. This remarkable chapter of world history was on its way to being lost forever. The Liberian war and peace movement were largely ignored as the international press focused on Iraq. Moreover, the women's own modesty helped obscure this great accomplishment. Pray the Devil Back to Hell reconstructs the moment through interviews, archival footage and striking images of contemporary Liberia. It is compelling testimony to the potential of women worldwide to alter the history of nations.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Two Spirits," at the Art Theater, June 11, 2011.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Two Spirits," at the Art Theater, June 11, 2011. Illinois Public Media partnered with the Up Center of Champaign County, to present this screening. Peggy Weyer, Lee Boyer and Sid Germaine were the panel members for this discussion, moderated by Kevin Johnson, director of the Up Center of Champaign County. There were about 90 people in the audience.
Two Spirits, is the story of Fred Martinez, a Navajo boy who felt that he was also a girl. In traditional Navajo culture, a person with a male body who has a female nature is known as nadleehi and holds a revered position in the community. In the mainstream American culture of Cortez, Colorado, however, Fred's dual nature led to bullying at school, harassment by adults, and, ultimately, to his brutal murder. In Two Spirits, Fred's mother, friends, and experts in two-spirit culture describe Fred and the reality that many people express gender across a spectrum from masculine to feminine, both historically and in contemporary society.
In many Native American cultures, being two-spirit is considered a special gift. Traditionally, two-spirit people were healers, negotiators, matchmakers, and caretakers of orphaned children. When the Europeans came in contact with Native Americans who did not conform to rigidly enforced gender roles, two-spirit people were treated harshly, and many were killed, which set the precedent for two-spirit culture going underground throughout North America.
As white European Christian influence spread among Native Americans, the two-spirit tradition all but disappeared from many Native cultures. The forced assimilation through education in Indian boarding schools and increased interaction with white society further eroded the status of two-spirit people and changed Native American perceptions of gender and sexuality.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Welcome To Shelbyville," at the Champaign Public Library, May 12, 2011.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Welcome To Shelbyville," at the Champaign Public Library, May 12, 2011. Jack Brighton from Illinois Public Media moderated the discussion. There were about 25 people in the audience.
Welcome to Shelbyville, is a glimpse of America at a crossroads. In this one small town in the heart of America's Bible Belt, a community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Just a stone's throw away from Pulaski, Tennessee (the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan), longtime African American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a growing Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Muslim Somali refugees.
Set on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, the film captures the interaction between these residents as they navigate new waters against the backdrop of a tumultuous year. As the newcomers - mostly of Muslim faith - attempt to make new lives for themselves and their children, leaders in this deeply religious community attempt to guide their congregations through this period of unprecedented change. Through the vibrant and colorful characters of Shelbyville, the film explores immigrant integration and the interplay between race, religion, and identity in this dynamic dialogue. The story is an intimate portrayal of a community's struggle to understand what it means to be American.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Bhutto," at the Champaign Public Library, April 28, 2011.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Bhutto," at the Champaign Public Library, April 28, 2011. Jack Brighton from Illinois Public Media moderated the discussion. There were about 20 people in the audience.
Two of the audience members one from Pakistan and the other from India helped the rest of the audience understand some of the issues facing these two countries. Bhutto chronicles the life of one of the most complex and fascinating characters of our time. It's the story of the first woman in history to lead a Muslim nation: Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto was born into a wealthy landowning family that became Pakistan's dominant political dynasty. Often referred to as the "Kennedys of Pakistan," the Bhuttos share a painful history of triumph and tragedy, played out on an international stage.
Educated at Harvard and Oxford, and with an eye on a foreign service career, Benazir's life changed forever when her father, Pakistan's first democratically elected president, chose Benazir to carry his political mantle over the family's eldest son. Her two terms in power saw acts of courage and controversy as she eradicated polio and stood up for women, while fighting the male-dominated political elite, and a nervous military leadership, while battling accusations of corruption and scandal. With her assassination she transcended politics, but left a legacy of simmering controversy and undeniable courage that will be debated for years.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Pushing the Elephant," at the Champaign Public Library, March 17, 2011.
This is the discussion following the screening of the film, "Pushing the Elephant," at the Champaign Public Library, March 17, 2011. Professor Eyamba Bokamba of the Lingustics Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led the discussion. Jack Brighton of Illinois Public media moderated the discussion. There were about 25 people in the audience.
In the late 1990s, Rose Mapendo was imprisoned with her family during violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo. Her harrowing experience included the nighttime arrest of her entire family by government agents, the execution of her husband, the birth of their twin sons in prison, and grim negotiations with prison guards to save the lives of her children. She emerged from the harrowing experience advocating forgiveness and reconciliation.
When war came to Rose's village, she was separated from her daughter, Nangabire, who was 4 years old at the time. Rose managed to escape with nine of her 10 children and was eventually resettled in Phoenix, Arizona. More than a decade later, Rose and Nangabire are reunited in Phoenix where they must face the past and build a new future. Rose struggles to find balance in her life as a mother of 10 and a full-time advocate for refugees, women, and peace in her country.