Friday Dec 8th, 7:00pm
Women Should Rule The World
Ambassadors Of Peace, Women Change Makers Of Pozo Indonesia Are Empowered To Unite A Country In Conflict. 500 Christian & Muslim Women At Odds Are Brought Together For One Cause By An Injured Woman With A BIG IDEA.
Lian Gogali and her 500 female students are a force to be reckoned with the conflict torn area of Poso, Indonesia. They are part of a powerful and successful movement for peace and justice in an area that has been racked by inter-religious violence for over a decade.
But five years ago, Lian was just a single mother living in rural Poso with a broken leg and a big dream to educate marginalised women. The Peace Agency follows her remarkable journey from her village to New York City to create The Women’s School, an institution that transforms its all-female class into agents of peace and non-violence grassroots activism that has altered the course of the conflict in Poso, and possibly the future of Indonesia.
Sue Useem is an American documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur residing in Asia.
Since graduating from Gettysburg College in 2005, Sue Useem has worked in the media industry as a director, producer, and broadcaster. Her debut documentary “Which Way to the War” (2009) won her Best Female Filmmaker at Action on Film Festival in 2009 in Pasadena, California and screened in festivals worldwide. Her work has been seen in many productions, including on Animal Planet, Geographic Expeditions, National Geographic, and Wharton Business School. She was also a producer and broadcaster at the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, D.C. for five years. “The Peace Agency” is her second documentary film.
When I came to Lian’s house in Poso in 2010 to pay a visit after finishing my first documentary about the Poso conflict, I had no plans on making a new documentary there. Since I had seen her last, she had become a single mother and was trying to recover from her accident, all while fighting Tuberculosis. When she told me she was holding classes for women on her front porch I considered the idea of making a short documentary about it in order to help her promote the idea. I had no idea what journey both of us were about to embark on. The result is “The Peace Agency.”
For the last six years I have been traveling to Poso back and forth to capture what she worked so hard for, which gave me intimate access to her life and story. At first, I thought it was her personal story that would be the main topic of the film. I was frightened she would die of her injuries and illnesses, and it captured my attention for the first two years. When she was able to get the life and leg saving surgeries she needed, I was elated to see her take her school and movement to new heights I could have never imagined. With two legs, what more could she do? Turns out, a lot!
Along the way, as we both grew along with the expansion of the school and interfaith movement, I began to realize that this was simply too big of a story about the school and the fantastic women involved in it to not make that the center of this film. But it was never clear at the time that this film was going to have a happy ending. Would they get the funding they needed? Could Lian take groups of impoverished and traumatized women from across a huge area of remote Indonesia, and turn them not only into peacemakers, but agents of change for a better Indonesia? Or would Poso collapse back into violence?
When we got notice that she would be flying to New York with the chance of winning the Coexist Prize, I knew the redeeming moment for both of us had come. I could never have imagined how well it all would turn out. Since then, it has been nothing but good news. I struggled to decide where to end this film because so many new events kept on happening. In truth, there is no end to this social movement, and I can only hope to capture a few years of it and show what I can of it with the budget I had.
I am so grateful for Lian giving me the access to her life and story and for all of the people of Poso who have been so kind and welcoming to me over the years. It has truly been a transformational and humbling experience for everyone involved.