From domestic gang violence to international war zones, countries everywhere seem overcome with unforgiving conflicts. But do groundbreaking peacemaking efforts have the power to change the ways we view conflict in a violence stricken world?
Many people, and particularly a few international celebrities, have come to believe in, and witness firsthand, the power of these peace-making initiatives.
On this week’s episode, Full Frame shifts its focus to a handful of influential peacemakers, who have become advocates for the international non-violence movement and seek to change the way people view and approach conflict around the world.
Tune into Full Frame on CCTV America at 6:00 p.m. ET on Feb. 28. Or watch the live stream of the program here.
Forest Whitaker: An Ambassador of Peace
Celebrated for his intensely powerful portrayals on the big screen, Forest Whitaker has earned honors that range from an Oscar to an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA award. The legendary film star has captivated audiences for decades through his leading roles in box-office hits like The Last King of Scotland and The Butler, and he’s also worked behind the camera as a producer and director.
But Whitaker’s international influence is not limited to Hollywood. He’s also working to make a lasting impact on the humanitarian landscape.
Whitaker works fervently to promote peace in places that are overcome by armed conflict and violence and he places a firm emphasis on empowering young people through his efforts.
As a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, Whitaker works to prevent young people from becoming part of devastating cycles of violence.
He also co-founded the International Institute for Peace at Rutgers University, which works with urban communities to address cutting-edge issues and implement peace-building efforts.
In 2012, the humanist also launched his own organization: the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative.
The Initiative helps transform societies affected by destructive conflicts into safer and flourishing communities and aims to inspire people, particularly youth, around the globe to engage in peace initiatives and conflict resolution.
Whitaker is now implementing programs in South Sudan, Uganda and Mexico.
On this episode of Full Frame, Whitaker tells Mike Walter about his childhood experiences that inspired him to get involved in these efforts and the important, and powerful, lessons he’s learned in his efforts to promote peace and prevent conflict.
Follow Whitaker on Twitter to learn more about his work: @ForestWhitaker
Zak Ebrahim: Not his Father’s Son
The old adage “like father, like son” does not apply to Zak Ebrahim.
Ebrahim’s father is El Sayyid Nosair, the Egyptian-born American who shot and killed Jewish Defense League founder Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1990 and was later convicted of being a co-mastermind behind the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, while he was in prison.
Traces of his father’s terrorism haunted Ebrahim’s life and forced him to hide is identity for almost two decades.
But recently, Ebrahim decided to share his story and embolden people to promote peace and tolerance in their daily lives. He has taken a courageous stand against the fanatical views of hatred and intolerance that his father aimed to disseminate.
In his new book, The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice, Ebrahim chronicles his journey to relinquish his father’s hatred and replace it with his own hope.
Ebrahim joins host Mike Walter to recount his painful experiences as the son of a terrorist, the factors that may have led his father to deviate away from his life as a loving Muslim, and the importance of countering fundamentalism and prejudice with love and acceptance.
Follow Ebrahim on Twitter: @ZakEbrahim
Julia Bacha: Visions of Peace
To the outside world, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems like a severe reality of incessant violence and turmoil.
But Brazilian filmmaker, Julia Bacha, is dissatisfied with the media’s general, and seemingly limited, portrayal of the conflict. She aims to show the world a different reality, the efforts that both Israeli and Palestinian civilians are making to find solutions through non-violent forms of resistance.
Bacha’s documentary “Budrus” and documentary-short “My Neighborhood” depict the significant presence of non-violence in areas of hard Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The films have not only helped to show the world an important, and largely unseen, aspect of the conflict-driven zones, but they have also distinguished Bacha as an internationally celebrated filmmaker and Peabody Award recipient.
But Bacha’s work is not limited to the big-screen.
She is also the Creative Director of the non-profit organization Just Vision, which, much like her films, aims to change the Israeli-Palestinian narrative by raising awareness about non-violent resistance movements.
Julia Bacha joins Full Frame to talk about her inspiration and efforts to tackle a reality missing in the mainstream media and why she believes it is imperative to change the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Follow Julia Bacha on Twitter: @JuliaBacha
Pedro Reyes: Instruments of Peace
Lastly, Full Frame heads to Mexico to meet Pedro Reyes, an artist who is taking weapons off the streets and into places you’d never expect, concert music halls.
Reyes’ journey began years ago when he gathered more than 1,500 guns that had been confiscated by Mexican authorizes throughout the country. The metal collected was sent to a foundry and melted into 1,500 shovels each used to plant a tree in the area.
Reyes’ efforts literally turned agents of death, high power military weapons, into agents of life.
Following the success of his first endeavor, Reyes wanted to further incorporate his passion for the arts into his efforts.
A sculptor for nearly 10 years, Reyes decided to take the transformative power of art to a new and innovative level, turning weapons into musical instruments.
The artist’s unique venture is turning into an astounding success, and, today, his seemingly grotesque creations are the source of a striking style of music heard throughout many Mexican communities.
Reyes invites Full Frame on his quest to see the remarkable impact of his artistic transformations and to talk about his hopes to inspire artists to engage in similar initiatives to relinquish the destructive power of weapons across Mexico and around the world.
Follow Pedro Reyes on Twitter: @_pedroreyes
Tune into Full Frame on CCTV America at 6:00 pm EDT on November 15, 2014. Or watch the live stream of the program here.