Can there ever be peace without justice?

The Peacebuilding Through Media Arts project is sponsoring three screenings at this year’s Scotland African Film Festival, and after attending last night, I have to say we can be proud of having anything at all to do with such vital and moving works of ‘media art’. The showings of the first 2 documentaries were attended by a lively, engaged crowd (you could tell their political sensitivity from the way the noisy chattering through all the adverts abruptly ceased – no dissenting voices – as a picture of the occupied West Bank came up at the beginning of a trailer). And it was pretty much a full house.

The first short film, Peace Wanted Alive: Kenya at the Crossroads was about a grassroots peacebuilding initiative in Kenya said to be responsible for averting much bloodshed during during election violence of 2008. Powerful and punchy, it demonstrates a model of civic society peace building.

It was followed by Dear Mandela, an award-winning feature-length documentary following the progress of a movement fighting for the rights of those living in the euphemistically termed ‘informal settlements’ outside Durban. Eighteen years after the end of apartheid South Africa is still experiencing a divide of similar injustice and tragedy: that between rich and poor, symbolised here by the summary evictions and forced transportation of many so-called slum dwellers. The story had so many twists and turns it felt scripted, and so many fluent and engaging characters you might think they were actors; so many live dramatic scenes were shot you wondered how the director and crew knew where to be and when to shoot. But this was a real movement of ordinary people making a stand against both local opposition and a set of eviction laws they believed were unconstitutional. If I told you how it turned out, I’d have to put a spoiler alert at the top of the blog- let’s just say I was deeply moved, and that if you have a chance to see it, DO! And it seems only right to link to the ‘Take Action’ tab on the film’s website: <http://www.dearmandela.com/?q=node/71>

The third film we are sponsoring, Cry of Love, has its UK premiere in the Festival on Nov 1st at 8.15, the Filmhouse, Edinburgh. See you there?

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