Peace studies course material and film study will converge at the fifth annual ScreenPeace Film Festival, where attendees will share in the experiences of five nonviolent resistors from around the world. The festival, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday, is co-sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Hal Culbertson, executive director of the Kroc Institute, said this year’s festival theme of nonviolent resistance developed in response to the Arab Spring, a series of civil resistance movements in the Arab world that began in late 2010. “We thought there would be significant interest in the Arab Spring and its impact around the world,” Culbertson said. “We decided to make the theme of nonviolent resistance the centerpiece because we knew of several films that related to this.” The five films that will be shown over the course of the festival portray the stories of a varied cast of people: a Palestinian farmer, a Chinese artist and activist, a scholar of nonviolent resistance, an interracial American couple and an aspiring Algerian filmmaker. Alison Rice, associate professor of French and Francophone literatures, will introduce the last film of the weekend, “Normal!,” about a young Algerian filmmaker living and working when the Arab Spring protests begin in his country in the last days of 2010. “With these protests taking place, it’s like a documentary, but it’s not labeled a documentary,” Rice said. “It’s like a film within a film.” The film follows the struggles of the filmmaker as he tries to discern how to act appropriately in the midst of the protests, Rice said. “[It is] really about the dilemma of how to act when you’re in a societal system in a country where you do not agree with the way things are going,” she said. “How do you react, how do you respond effectively?” The film sends a message of solidarity, Rice said, and the feeling of “everyone participating in something together.” Rice was chosen to introduce “Normal!” for the ScreenPeace Festival because of her close connections with Algerian culture as a professor of French and Francophone literature, she said. “I also love the work the Kroc Institute does, and I am firmly behind the idea of peace studies, and I love film as well,” Rice said. “It was a perfect opportunity for me to respond to.” Culbertson said the Kroc Institute chooses films for the festival that will relate to the material the Peace Studies department is teaching in the classroom. “We designate films with our chief educational goals in mind and we try to complement our class discussions of peace with films that are particularly situated where conflict and peace issues are prominent,” he said. “It can address issues on a more local level and more in context than we often can in the classroom.” The festival also provides food for thought for others who may not know a great deal about peace issues around the world. “The real goal is to stimulate thought and reflection of peace issues around the world,” he said. “I think film as a medium is a wonderful way for people to learn about other cultures and contexts. It’s a different way of seeing peace issues played out.” The festival is free to attend, but tickets are required. For a full schedule of films and to obtain tickets, visit performingarts.nd.edu.
You won’t find them at the starting line at next Sunday’s 22nd Los Angeles Marathon. Or even out on the course running just one mile of the 26.2-mile race. But that doesn’t matter. They’ll still get the biggest applause of the day after walking only a few hundred feet of the course – slowly, unsteadily, painfully. People love to cheer for a longshot, and there are no longer shots in the L.A. Marathon next week than the 11 men and women who meet every week in a workout room behind Gold’s Gym in Northridge. They are paraplegics, quadriplegics and serious stroke victims who were not supposed to be able to walk on their own again – let alone cross the finish line of their city’s marathon on their feet and have a medal placed around their necks. They’ve poured buckets of sweat, screamed in pain, and pushed their bodies as hard as any runner in the grueling race to earn that medal. “It’s all about crossing the finish line. And whether it’s 26 miles for a runner or 26 feet for a person with a serious disability, it doesn’t matter,” says L.A. Marathon race director Steve Honikman. “Taylor’s people are champions. That’s why the crowds love them and always cheer the hardest for them. They’ve accomplished something incredible and people can see that.” Taylor is Taylor Isaacs, a clinical exercise physiologist. At least that’s what his license says. To his clients – people like Marc Richards, Tony Scott and Andy Davis, who worked with Isaacs on a recent Friday – the former professor of kinesiology at California State University, Northridge, is nothing short of a miracle worker. “He works you hard and makes you believe in yourself – that anything is possible. And it is,” said Richards, a 47-year-old paraplegic. The Castaic man learned that firsthand at the 2005 L.A. Marathon. He was Isaacs’ first test case – the guy he would point to with dozens of future clients and say, “Hey, he did it. Why can’t you?” Richards and Isaacs went to the marathon’s finish line a few days before the race and counted the steps backward to where Richards should get out of his wheelchair and start walking with the use of his forearm crutches. They figured it would take about 30 minutes to cover a few hundred feet. Then came the day of the race. “There were a bunch of people, including some U.S. Marines, at the finish line that year shouting Marc’s name and yelling, `Go, Marc, Go.”‘ Isaacs said. “It was an incredible sight, everybody cheering him on. It didn’t take him 30 minutes to cover that few hundred feet; it took him 17 minutes. “He was flying on air,” Isaacs said, laughing. At the 2006 L.A. Marathon, six more people joined Richards, including Leon Hoyer, a South African man who was paralyzed in an accident three years earlier. He had heard about the work Isaacs was doing and flew to the United States for treatment. He’s back in South Africa now visiting his family. Hoyer’s entire 2006 marathon was one step. One big step. “You should have seen the look on his face when he got out of his chair and managed to take that one step across the finish line,” Isaacs said. “Everybody was yelling encouragement and cheering him. He told me it was the best moment of his life, and I could see why. It’s been the best moment in a lot of our lives.” This year, there will be 11 clients of Isaacs crossing that finish line – from 14-year-old Kirsten Jacobsen, who has cerebral palsy, to 77-year-old Degania Golove, a quadriplegic who will walk with the use of a front-wheel walker. Those steps are important, Isaacs said, but so are the looks on the faces of the people cheering them on. “We want to change people’s perceptions,” he said. “We don’t want them thinking of Marc, Tony or Andy here as disabled men. “We want them thinking of them as men, as husbands and fathers.” Because crossing that finish line is the only thing that matters. Whether it’s 26 miles or 26 feet. Dennis McCarthy’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3749 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!