An inspiring look at Serbia and its youth after war
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
If you’re looking for a thought provoking film to watch during the Bermuda International Film Festival for Kids on this weekend from October 13 – 15 at Liberty Theatre, then the documentary Hope for the Future is it.
World Peace – everyone from beauty queens to politicians claim they want it gift wrapped, but how many people are actually out there actively working for it? Last year a group of Canadian teenagers did exactly that when they travelled to the Balkans in search of that elusive goal, to make the world a more peaceful place.
The students were inspired by a film called Teaching Peace In The Time of War about the work of Hetty Van Gurp the founder of Peaceful Schools for Change International. In this documentary film, students, mostly from Nova Scotia, got together video cameras and headed off to Serbia on a trip that culminated in a Youth to Youth peace conference.
One Canadian said it took a lot of fundraising, because students came from a low income demographic.
This reviewer wonders if the same student would describe his area as low income after seeing the poverty that some of the Serbians live under. One of the nice things about the project was the wide cross section of students involved.
Some of them had earrings in places other than their ears, others were clean cut and wanted to be broadcasters, one kid was allergic to birds, one girl had muscular dystrophy and was in an electric wheelchair and one of the chaperones was missing a leg.
In Serbia the students wandered about talking to passersby and chatting with each other. They visited several schools and talked to Serbian students. They also went home with a host family for a short time. Disappointingly, there really wasn’t that much footage from their host families. One Canadian student explained that at first his host mother declined because talking about the problems in Serbia brought back so many bad memories. Their plan for world peace seemed almost too simple to work talk to people, make friends, film. Yet, it did seem to have positive reverberations. The Serbians, suffering from low community esteem after three civil wars since the 1990s, seemed amazed that anyone would bother to visit them in the first place. Everyone, young to old, told the Canadians, "we just want the world to know we’re not as bad as we are made out to be".
One Serbian adult expressed wonder that Canadian parents who even let their children come to Serbia considering the bad rap the people had. One of the pivotal moments happened when a Serbian teenage boy told the Canadians that he didn’t believe in voting anymore. "We did that before and nothing happened," he said. "I’m not going to bother." A Canadian student responded by pointing out that his actions, and that of other Serbs must have had some effect, otherwise the Canadians wouldn’t be there. This simple idea threw the Serb boy for a loop. He stood back, stunned, wheels obviously turning in his head. This was the moment in the film where viewers saw how one group of kids visiting another, really could have an impact. Later, when the group said goodbye, a Canadian student hugged the Serbian boy and told him firmly: "Remember, if you have one chance in a million, take it."
And the trip had an obvious impact on the Canadian students also. At the very end of the film, one Canadian girl back at home, told the camera: "I never want to be a do nothing person again."
Hope for The Future was an uplifting and moving film, that will perhaps inspire yet more peace projects.
It is somewhat like last year’s BIFF documentary Seeds about a summer camp for peace in Maine.
Hope for The Future was a Sea to Sea Production made in association with Students for Teaching Peace.
It was directed by Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason. For more information go to www.peacefulschoolsinternational.org.
Hope For The Future will be playing at the Liberty Theatre on October 14 at 4.14 p.m. For more information visit http://filmguide.bermudafilmfest.com .
By Jessie Moniz