Rutgers is huge. There are three campuses, and our film showed at the New Brunswick Campus. Because the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies hosted us we were able to talk about nonviolence in the larger context of the world. They told me several nonviolence stories from Latin America. One of the best things about being a filmmaker is meeting interesting and passionate people, and I always enjoy hearing incredible stories that the public just doesn’t have access to.
What information the public does and doesn’t receive kind of became a central thread in the discussion after the film. Once again, the audience confirmed that Little Town of Bethlehem shared things they simply hadn’t heard before. Powerful things. Whenever people discover there is more to the story it is a natural response for them to ask why they didn’t know.
There were African-American students who wanted to talk about the equality issue, and the Latino students wanted to talk about the similarities of the cycle of violence to gangs. And for the second screening in a row the audience wanted to talk about the Arab spring and the current Occupy Wall Street movement. Yet, all of the questions kept feeding back to what the media reports and why.
One of the things that I always share about Little Town of Bethlehem is that I may not have a lot of hope in politics, but I have great hope in a civil society. Finally I told them if the selective media coverage troubled them we can all do something. For my part, I was fortunate to make a film. For Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s part, they sponsored the On Screen/In Person program that allowed the film to be shared at Rutgers. Every one of us can do something, big or small. A common connection of the three protagonist in Little Town of Bethlehem is that they all believe Gandhi’s words, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Post by Jim Hanon, OSIP touring filmmaker