Film inspires students, helps producer’s cause

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The Campus Program Board event  “Short Film for Peace” was held on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 9 p.m. in Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. This documentary, produced by John Viscount. The documentary told the story of a Palestinian man and an Israeli couple who arrive in a white room with an elderly clerk in it. There are two doors on a wall, one marked heaven and one marked hell.

They ask what is going on, and the clerk tells them that they were all in a café, when there was an explosion from a suicide bomber. The Palestinian man was that same bomber. The couple is furious and immediately blame the man for taking them away from their children. It was only when the man tells how the Israeli people had murdered his own children, that the wife forgives him.

She apologizes to the man for what her government has done to him and even feels that they have a common bond: the loss of their children. The wife begs her husband to forgive the man as she enters the door to heaven. After a long internal debate, the husband places his hand over his heart, silently forgives the man and also walks through the door to heaven.


After the short film, students then had a discussion with Jeremiah Gibbs and John Viscount. Photo by Emily Darr

After the short film, students then had a discussion with Jeremiah Gibbs and John Viscount. Photo by Emily Darr

The Palestinian man stands before the doors,  fully expecting to go to hell. Instead, the door opens to heaven. “The ones who find it hardest to love, need love the most,” the clerk says. The man thanks him and walks through the door.

CPB Social Issues and Community Service Chair Gabriella Ratliffe said the theme of this film is forgiveness and choices.

“It was [about] wanting to promote world peace and choosing forgiveness over violence and retaliation,” she said. “He [Viscount] really wanted to promote discussion and moving forward.”

Ratliffe hopes the film makes students think about the themes of the film.

“I hope [students] get the bigger picture of forgiveness and love and not always lead to retaliation or revenge,” Ratliffe said. “[They should] take what they learn and apply it to their life.”

Putting this event together caused some stress for the members of CPB according to Ratliffe, but for her it was worth it.

“[I was] a little overwhelmed at first,” Ratliffe said. “But overall, [I felt] good, because I know it’s promoting social awareness about something that’s important.”

Viscount and Chaplain Jeremiah Gibbs led the discussion after the film ended. Students were allowed to ask questions during this portion of the event.  There was also a Twitter feed to post their questions if students did not feel comfortable asking them aloud.

Senior Heather Schwartz enjoyed the discussion and described it as being very eye opening.

“That analogy really got to me that when you forgive, you go into a heavenly state,” Schwartz said.

Sunday, Sept. 21 marked the 30th  anniversary of the International Day of Peace. This was one of the motivations for Ratliffe and other CPB members to put on the film for students. The International Day of Peace is celebrated around the world as a day to promote strengthening peace with other nations.

Viscount said he is trying to collect a billion signatures to create a peace department in the United Nations, and if anyone wishes to sign it, they can do so at

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