Abigail E. Disney is one of three Executive Producers of the groundbreaking PBS mini-series Women, War & Peace, the most comprehensive global media initiative ever mounted on the role of women in peace and conflict. Tuesday, War Redefined – the capstone, finale episode – featuring all three female Secretaries of State airs on PBS on November 8. Check Local Listings.
War Redefined: Women, War & Peace
For the last two months, I’ve had the privilege of talking about war with every kind of American you can imagine… and some you can’t! At the University of Arkansas I talked with students who were hungry to learn more about nonviolent women’s movements for peace. In Nashville I met the most extraordinary woman, who has drawn upon her traumatic experience of being wounded in the 2008 attack on Mumbai to form an extraordinary youth movement for peace among American children. In Denver I listened to Anna Sophia Robb, the gorgeous young actress from Soul Surfer, speak with such passion about her yearnings for her country I almost cried. At Spellman College in Atlanta I sat awestruck as I listened to an Algerian professor speak publicly for the first time about her own childhood memories of war and terror. And in Washington DC, on Capitol Hill, congressional staffers sat for an hour after our screening to talk through the issues it had raised for them – I found myself fantasizing about the influence they might exert upon their superiors by bringing this new found point-of-view to bear on deliberations about Afghanistan.
From DC to Dallas, San Francisco to West Point, two things have struck me: the insatiable appetite of Americans to engage with the issues raised by Women, War & Peace and the stunningly consistent recognition that we have spent too many centuries tolerating a limited and limiting narrative of war and combat. I have been amazed to discover that this desire for a new dialogue on war and peace is not limited by one’s personal politics – peace doesn’t have a side, or a color or a race. And nothing has thrilled me more than watching young women AND young men express their desire for more media that presents the world “as if” women mattered.
Tuesday night is both an end and a beginning. It is the finale episode of the five-part series, War Redefined. For me the last five years have been personally redefining. This wild ride began five years ago when I first traveled to Liberia and heard the story that Gini Reticker and I would eventually turn into the film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Believe me, five years ago I could never have guessed I’d be planning a trip to Oslo, to watch my now dear friend, Leymah Gbowee, be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize! Along the way, there has been a lot of work and thinking and learning and sleepless, sleepless nights. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat because these have been the best five years of my life.
The last night of broadcast is also the beginning of new and greater ways to get these five films out and to let them flourish into their full potential. Through targeted, high impact screenings for policymakers and influencers, through school-based and community screenings across the US, and through screenings for women much like those in our films, who are experiencing or have experienced conflict and are thinking about ways to organize their communities for peace, we will see the true impact of the series.
War Redefined is our capstone episode, pulling together all the strands and themes that have been raised by the four other films and binding them into a coherent argument about the modern definition of war. My co-creators and I feel it does its job quite well, with interviews with three secretaries of state, current Nobel Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, and experts on arms trafficking, child soldiers, displacement, globalization and military strategy. What emerges is a clear and powerful sense that not only has war indeed changed in the last few decades, but that peace is in some ways closer than it’s ever been.
Of course, to “redefine” something is to give it new meaning: to take what we know and expand on it. In this way, War Redefined aims to challenge conventional understandings of war. We hope that after watching all five episodes you are left with a profound new comprehension of war, its true reach and implications, and of the critical role women play not only in its conduct, but in its resolution.
Watch the trailer for War Redefined here:http://video.pbs.org/video/2149699997/
Join us on Twitter @WomenWarPeace and follow live at #WWPLive.