Festival spotlight on nonviolent action for social change

Published 17 May 2011

orange1The ability of nonviolence movements to bring about social and political change for the better will be on display and under discussion next week during the University of New England’s 2nd Annual Nonviolence Film Festival.

“We have recently witnessed another remarkable success for nonviolence, when an Egyptian uprising toppled the entrenched dictator Hosni Mubarak, who had held on to power for 30 years, propped up by US financial and military support,” said Dr Marty Branagan, a lecturer in Peace Studies at UNE and the organiser of the film festival. “At the core of this uprising was a subtle, long-term campaign by a group of dedicated activists who had studied and trained in nonviolence.”

Dr Branagan said that the week-long festival of free films presented by Peace Studies at UNE could help people to understand the potential of what he called “the world’s most powerful philosophy of social change”.

The films will be screened each day next week (Monday 23 – Friday 27 May) in the Di Watson Lecture Theatre near UNE’s Northern Carpark. Each session will begin at 1 pm.

The films on Monday will deal with the best-known examples of nonviolence: the liberation of India and the US civil rights movement. Dr Branagan said that these films highlighted the violent and repressive nature of the regimes that the nonviolence movements were opposing.

There will also be home-grown films about Australian activism: Embassy Days, on Tuesday, about the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, and, on Thursday, films about environmental actions such as the Franklin River blockade and more recent activism. Also on Thursday will be a film documenting resistance to Nazism by Jehovah’s Witnesses during World War II.

Wednesday’s film will be about the 2004 ‘Orange Revolution’ in the Ukraine, and the festival will conclude on Friday with The Day After Peace, about one man’s crusade for an annual day of global ceasefire and nonviolence.

Everyone is welcome to these free films, each of which will be followed by a discussion.

The film festival will be accompanied by a week-long exhibition in the UNE Bistro titled Transforming the Human Spirit. This free exhibition is to be presented by the international Buddhist peace organisation Soka Gakkai.

For more information, contact Dr Marty Branagan on (02) 6773 3951 (e-mail: marty.branagan@une.edu.au).