Monday, June 14, 2010

Pushing the Elephant

"Pushing the Elephant" is the title of a wonderful film we saw last night which is part of the Human Rights Watch Festival at Lincoln Center, but it is also a phrase shared by the film's chief protagonist - Rose Mapendo, a heroic refugee from the killings in the Congo - who has said that many hard working people working closely and collaboratively together are needed to "push the elephant." Thus, pushing the elephant is another way of saying that many action-oriented people are needed to make positive and sustainable change and that we should not underestimate the efforts of any one of those pushers in making good things happen.

This film about Rose Mapendo is not only a fine and touching portrait of a committed activist, however; it is also a movie about a mother of 10 children who showers her love on her offspring, even as she works tirelessly to bring peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation to the Congo. In fact, it is the best film portrait I can recall about a strong woman who maintains an incredibly successful and important public life while also giving time and close attention to her large family that has successfully resettled from the ravages of Central Africa to the serenity of a suburb in Phoenix, Arizona. Kudos to the filmmakers Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel for making such a remarkable film and for bringing much needed attention to such terrible violence and the amazing resilience that people can demonstrate in the face of such atrocities.

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