DISCUSS

Changing How We See Violence

By Kristen Zelenka

At the end of October, Chicago had the honor of hosting Good Pitch, a forum for pitching and raising funds and resources to produce important social issue documentary films.
THE INTERRUPTERS got crucial funding and outreach support through participating in a Good Pitch event back in June 2010.

This was my first time attending Good Pitch, but it proved to be an incredibly inspiring event. I observed top filmmakers and leaders across industries discuss pressing issues in our society, such as domestic violence, youth homelessness, prostitution, discrimination, and climate change. However, what I found most resonating was the fact that that four out of the seven films presented dealt with issues of violence, each from a different angle:

THE HOMESTRETCH follows three resilient homeless teenagers as they navigate the landscape between Chicago Public Schools and homeless shelters under constant threat. Their stories connect with larger policy issues of juvenile justice, foster care, immigration, and LBGTQIA rights.

PRIVATE VIOLENCE unabashedly contests common misconceptions of domestic abuse through the eyes of a mother, her child, and her advocate. The film hopes to connect the relationship between both private domestic violence and the gun violence on the streets.

STRONG ISLAND examines the violent death of director’s brother over 20 years ago and how the collision of silence, race, fear and the judiciary allowed his killer to go free.

THE DREAMCATCHERS is a hopeful story about the journey of two former prostitutes who try to help young women on the streets of Chicago. The film exposes the intimate events that put young girls on the path to prostitution as well as the violence and brutality that is endemic to their everyday lives. .

All of these films share personal struggles and journeys as well as highlight triumphs of pure dedication and will to navigate out of the claustrophobic depths of violence. These films bring to light the human condition and tell powerful stories in a deeply personal way. Jess Search, the moderator of Good Pitch and the Chief Executive of BRITDOC, affirmed that we need more stories like these where people can watch, learn, and engage in solutions.

A common dialogue around the table of filmmakers and cause agents at Good Pitch was that documentary films are at the cutting edge in changing the conversation and perception of how violence is consumed through the media. They are the first to voice that violence is not sexy, hip, or cool. Violence is heartbreaking, all-consuming, and often paralyzing. The fact that Good Pitch showcased so many films addressing different attitudes and perspectives of violence underscores how caustic and dire the reality of violence is for so many in our society, community, and even our own homes. And it shows the movement that is rising up to combat it, with documentaries leading the way in making an impact on the problem.

Violence is pervasive, yet far too often goes unspoken. Documentary films have the power to open windows into other worlds. These films can help unite a growing number of voices working to inhibit the spread of violence.

I encourage everybody who cares about this issue to watch documentaries and to join the ongoing conversations they are part of, both online and within your own community. All of these films have websites where you can join the films efforts but also feel empowered to talk on your social media sites and with friends and family in your communities. If violence touches everyone, then we must be at least be able to talk about it before any real change can occur. This is why we launched www.interruptviolence.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristen is the founder of Qbox Studio, a firm that leverages design and media to promote the intersection of the arts, education, and meaningful community engagement.

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