From the horrors of the World War One trenches, to the Spanish Civil War, to 9/11, the day the world was confronted with a new form of warfare and global terror, there are a number of films exploring these issues, with styles ranging from classical retelling of well-known stories, to innovative narratives.
- Royal Irish Rifles Brigade in a trench during the Battle of the Somme, 1916. Taken by Royal Engineers No 1 Printing Company. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARoyal_Irish_Rifles_ration_party_Somme_July_1916.jpg
11’09’01 September 11 (2002) This film is a unique and extraordinary response to the catastrophic events in New York City that shook the world on September 11 2001. Brigand invited 11 renowned international directors to look towards their own cultures, their memories, their stories and language, to create a film lasting eleven minutes, nine seconds and one frame - 11'09'01. The result is a film covering a diverse range of sensibilities and viewpoints, which testifies to the resonance of September 11th throughout the world. (Produced by Alain Brigand.)
A Force More Powerful (1999) Six stories of nonviolence in action around the world. A Force More Powerful explores how popular movements battled challenged unjust regimes and military forces. These events and the ideas underlying nonviolent action are the focus of this three-hour documentary production. The film includes stories on Gandhi’s civil rights campaign; the Danish resistance to the Nazis; the rise of Solidarity in Poland; and the momentous victory for democracy in Chile. A Force More Powerful also introduces several extraordinary, but largely unknown individuals who drove these great events forward. (Directed by Steve York.)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) This is an English language film adapted from a novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque. The film follows a group of German schoolboys, talked into enlisting at the beginning of World War 1 by their jingoistic teacher. The story is told entirely through the experiences of the young German recruits and highlights the tragedy of war through the eyes of individuals. As the boys witness death and mutilation all around them, any preconceptions about "the enemy" and the "rights and wrongs" of the conflict disappear, leaving them angry and bewildered. (Directed by Lewis Milestone.)
Ararat (2002) Haunting drama about history, identity, and the validity of narrative. While a respected Canadian director begins production on a film about the Armenian genocide of 1915, he dispatches his young assistant Raffi (David Alpay) to Armenia to shoot some background footage. Raffi and his mother are employed as consultants on the film, and it is gradually revealed that Raffi's half-sister is convinced their mother is responsible for the death of her father after an assassination attempt in Turkey. (Directed by Atom Egoyan.)
Battle of Algiers (1962) This film is widely considered the best radical film ever made. It chronicles the Algerian war against French colonialism. The Battle of Algiers authentically recreates the life-and-death struggle that took place in Algiers from 1954 to 1957, when the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) began a guerrilla war against the French, using terrorism. The French sent paratroopers, which led to a regrettable catalogue of atrocities being committed by both sides. (Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo.)
Forgiveness (2011) This film explores the act of forgiveness through a range of stories, from personal to national, illuminating its power, its limitations and, in some cases, its dangers. In focusing on specific instances of affliction, e.g. a family torn apart by abandonment, the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation hearings in South Africa, or the memories of 60s radicals coping with their violent acts of protest, Forgiveness studies the psychological impetus and impacts of this crucial sentiment, illuminating its power, its limitations and, in some cases, its dangers. (Directed by Helen Whitney.)
The Imam and the Pastor (2005) A documentary about two former enemies, now unlikely allies. Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye were both deeply involved in the violent conflict between the Muslims and Christians of Northern Nigeria in the 1990s. Having both participated in, and suffered from the violence, the two men, as religious leaders within their communities were brought together and joined forces to promote interreligious peace in Nigeria. In this short film the Imam and the Pastor recall the hatred which fuelled the conflict, the challenges they experienced personally and within their communities in reconciling, and their ongoing work together for Kaduna's Interfaith Mediation Center promoting peace and dialogue. (Alan Channer.)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) Hemingway's tale of the Spanish Civil War. During the Spanish Civil War, an American allied with the Republicans finds romance during a desperate mission to blow up a strategically important bridge. (Directed by Sam Wood.)
Johnny Got His Gun (1971) Joe, a young American soldier, is hit by a mortar shell on the last day of World War I. He lies in a hospital bed suffering horrendous injuries, a quadruple amputee who has lost his arms, legs, eyes, ears, mouth and nose. Yet he remains conscious and able to think, reliving his life through strange dreams and memories. He remains frustrated by his situation, until one day when Joe discovers a unique way to communicate with his caregivers. (Directed by Dalton Trumbo.)
Land of Plenty (2004) Emotional drama which explores the anxiety and disillusionment of post 9/11 America. Michelle Williams stars as Lana, who returns to the United States to begin her studies after years of living abroad with her missionary father. Lana sets out to find her only other living relative: her uncle Paul (John Diehl), her deceased mother's brother. A Vietnam veteran, Paul is a reclusive vagabond with deep emotional war wounds. A tragic event witnessed by both of them opens their eyes to the wrongs of the world, and leads to a tentative yet meaningful family reconciliation. (Directed by Wim Wenders.)
Peace is the Way Films A series of projects by filmmakers Gregory Kennedy-Salemi and Stuart Jolley and their team, which combine comic-book animation and film, focusing on individuals and communities who work for positive change in their societies and more broadly. The latest projects are The Secret of the 5 Powers, about the lives of American anti-war activist Alfred Hassler, Vietnamese peace activist Sister Chan Khong and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and the documentary Planting Seeds: the Power of Mindfulness.
The Road to Peace (2012) follows the Dalai Lama as he travels around Great Britain, sharing his spiritual and humanitarian message with the West. This intimate documentary candidly reveals his nature and wisdom, and shows how he inspires millions of people of all nationalities and creeds to live more meaningful lives in harmony with each other and with the planet on which we live. (Directed by Leon Stuparich.)
Synopses and descriptions of Road to Peace; Johnny Got His Gun; For Whom the Bell Tolls; and All Quiet on the Western Front, are sourced and adapted from IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/). Descriptions of Land of Plenty; Forgiveness; The Battle of Algiers; Ararat; A Force More Powerful; and 11’09’01 September 11, sourced and adapted from Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/)