The Center for Peace and Global Citizenship’s first film series, which began in September with the mass-incarceration exposé Pull of Gravity, will end this week with the spy thriller 1971. It’s been a successful run, even if weather conditions did force Program Manager for Ethical Global Learning Stephanie Keene, who masterminded the series, to delay the showing of planned third installment Let the Fire Burn indefinitely. But Keene is optimistic that her primary goal for the project—exposing viewers to “new ideas and information both about the topic and about types of learning and engagement”— was met. “There’s certainly value in engaging with one another on issues that affect us and those around us, and there’s also value in coming together to learn from each other and from the lived experiences of the guests who come in to discuss the films with us,” she says.
In keeping with the CPGC’s mission, Keene designed the series around social justice issues. Each film focuses on a different a different aspect: Pull of Gravity takes on the prison-industrial complex that has consigned millions of American citizens to state or federal penitentiaries since the early ’80s; Food Chains tackles the abysmal working conditions experienced by Publix-employed farmers in Immokalee, Fla.; Let the Fire Burn explores the ways in which inflammatory rhetoric can become physically actualized as violence; and 1971 covers the Vietnam War-era robbery of the FBI’s Media, Pa., office by eight antiwar activists—one of whom was the late Haverford Professor Bill Davidon, who taught physics and mathematics from 1961 to 1991.
“All of the films, with the exception of Food Chains, have direct connections to the Philadelphia area, with 1971 also having a direct Haverford connection,” Keene says. “The idea was to have all of the films this semester have a domestic focus, and for the films for the spring semester to have an international focus, recognizing the idea that ‘global’ encompasses all of that. We’re hoping that the films and the planned conversations that follow each film will expand learning opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and other members of the community, as well as create pathways for action and activism for those who are interested.”
Screenings took place on September 26, October 25, and December 13 in the VCAM Screening Room and have been consistently well-attended. Though her favorite of the selections is Pull of Gravity, which she has a personal connection to—she calls it “the film that led me to decarceration work”—Keene believes that all four have something to teach the Haverford community about not just their respective topics, but also different types of learning and engagement.
“We’re hoping to continue to integrate curricular and co-curricular endeavors to enhance the overall Haverford experience for everyone,” she says.
Photo by Soha Saghir ’21.