Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Human Rights Watch Film Festival Spotlight: A Once and Future Peace

A Once and Future Peace
Directed by Eric Daniel Metzgar
Screening Information

There are multiple functions of the prison system, and the primary aim is to keep those deemed dangerous or likely to commit crimes away from society. Yet the time spent behind bars can have long-lasting implications on a person’s psyche and behavior, and simply removing them from normal life may not actually create a more well-rounded and better-prepared person to reenter civilization upon release, if such a fate is even a possibility. Ensuring that steps are taken to teach those serving time about the values they should emphasize in order to enrich their lives and acknowledge the consequences of their actions are rarely the priority of prison programs, but this film highlights how a Seattle-based community utilizes the framework of Indigenous peace-making circles to do just that.

This documentary makes use of creative cinematic techniques to showcase its topic, including animation to shield its characters’ identities and imagine moments of conversation that may not have happened exactly as they do onscreen for audiences to better unpack them. It offers a compelling portrait of a teenager, given the name Andy, who is facing both felony changes and doubts from his family about his desire for any sort of rehabilitation, and a former gang leader, Saroeum, actively working to keep others from following his path and instead confront their own instincts and futures. It serves as a productive and affecting case study for the power of conversation and the weight of treating everyone as if they have untapped potential if given the right attention and proper approach.


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