Every once in a while an Iranian does something great, not for themselves, or their people or community but for the world at large. To preface I would just like to thank Marjan Safinia for being one of those serving Iranians.
Monday night I was privileged to be at a screening of Marjan Safinia and Joseph Boyle's wonderful 2004 documentary film called "Seeds". [Watch trailer] The film was part of the Iranian Literary Arts festival, a week long event including films, contemporary poetry of Forough Farrokhzad and other greats, as well as the premiere of ICARUS/RISE a hot new modern Iranian theatrical show based on the poems of some of Iran's most celebrated [read as Dangerous and Sexy!] poets, in a wonderful culmination of celebrating Iranians and the arts in San Francisco.
We rarely get this kind of high intellectual immersion in our freedom fed advances in Culture and the Arts, and the conversations and discussions surround such wonderful contemplation, that it literally makes your head spin with a buzz. Or it could just be the wine mixed with perfume. Regardless, I make it a point to never miss one.
Seeds documents one season at a special summer camp, "Seeds of Peace" in Maine, dedicated to helping plant the seeds of peace in young people from war torn or conflict regions in the world, who are lucky enough to be selected to attend. During their stay, along with the usual camp fun stuff, they are involved in various conflict management techniques to help deal with and open up the issues they are affected by in their every day life. Youth from Israel, Palestine, Egypt, India, Pakestan, and Afghanestan share what it is like to be a young person in these countries, and bring a touching honesty to a new forefront of what we normally understand to be the usual issues we think we understand, affecting these countries.
While the film seems a bit long, you learn that there is a purpose, and regardless, you can't take your eyes off the screen, as it counts down day by day the progress and sometimes stalemate or even regress these young people make as they go through what must be a harrowing and stressful experience as you come to grips with the very real possibility that what you have been told and brought up thinking about the other side, may in fact be completely wrong, and worse that you might even stifle the urge to sympathize with your enemy's plight, out of loyalty to your own side. Even if it you know in your heart it is misplaced.
The film illustrates how complex and complicated these deep differences have become for the decades that they have been going on, and offers a moment of clarity as you realize that as often as you hear it, and as hopeful as you become each time the leaders seem to declare a possible peace plan, that in fact, peace is a transitional thing, it can start with a small step and can grow bigger, but it is not something that can be declared overnight, or even with [yet more] three-way handshakes at Camp David.
Through the eyes of these wonderful kids, we see the initial hopelessness confounding these problems, but by the end of the film you get a subtle glimpse of hope, that through this concept, namely one seed at a time, in fact hope can grow. And where there is hope, there is often the sunlight of chance, and by giving hope a chance, hope can possibly turn into a bountiful tree bearing the fruits of peace.
Possibly the most inspiring film I have seen in a long time, I highly encourage everyone to see this film. For one thing it will give you hope at a time I think we all need it, and also it will remind you what it was like to be 15 or 17 again, and how you felt like you could change the world. Who knows, maybe if you remember that feeling, you could regain it again and fulfill some of your own promises.
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