The Long Reach of Short Stories: Telling Stories of Peace in Mindanao

In celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month, the School of Arts and Sciences with the Institute for Heritage, Culture, and the Arts of the Philippine Women’s University, in collaboration with forum ZFD (Ziviler Friedensdienst), is holding a film screening and discussion on “The Long Reach of Short Films: Telling Stories of Peace in Mindanao,” which will be held on September 23, 2016 from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm at the Audio Visual room of this university.

Our view of the conflicts in Mindanao is shaped by the stories we read, watch, and hear through the mainstream media. These stories are often centered on violence - killings, kidnappings, bombings, and other atrocities. After all, “bad news is good news”. Sadly, these stories shape our perception of the constraints of building a peaceful alternative for Mindanao.

Of course, the realities of armed clashes, kidnappings, violence, and war crimes cannot be ignored. But at the same time, there are stories of hope and peace. Warring clans have been reconciled. Local mediators have transformed strained relations and ended violent escalations. Communities have resisted calls for all-out war, and empowered themselves to overcome marginalization. Such stories of peace abound, but often escape the attention of mainstream media.

The film project “The Long Reach of Short Films: Telling Stories of Peace in Mindanao” challenges preconceptions of Mindanao and contributes to a bigger picture of what is Mindanao today. Supported by forumZFD - Civil Peace Service, eight filmmakers from Mindanao have told stories of peace and conflict transformation in different parts of Mindanao. The resulting narrative and documentary short films represent a collective effort to spark dialogue, overcome stereotypes, and work towards different narratives of Mindanao.

After the screening, a discussion will take place headed by forumZFD project manager Manuel Domes who will discuss the processes involved in the production of the 4 films; the challenges and successes. After which, the guest reaction speaker Prof. Jowel Canuday, an anthropologist and journalist affiliated with MindaNews and the Ateneo de Manila University will present reactions and observations to the films screened.

Prof. Canuday is an anthropologist and one of the journalists who set up Mindanews, an independent news agency focusing on wholistic reportage on Mindanao. He finished his MA in Anthropology at the Xavier University. He holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford. He is the author of “Bakwit: The Power of the Displaced,” which won the National Book Award in the social science category of the 29th National Book Awards in 2010.

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