by Melanie Takefman
Something had to be done about the situation on campus, Leduc
said. She felt the need to look at the conflict in the Middle East on
a more human level.
With the support of the Graduate Students Association, Leduc organized
a festival of Middle Eastern films and poetry that will span 10 weeks.
Her goal is to provide a forum where people feel safe and can open
The festivals first installation was a screening in several parts
of Children of Jerusalem, a documentary about the lives of Israeli
and Palestinian children during the peace talks of 1990-5. Leduc said
that the response to the film was very positive. About two dozen people
of various ethnicities attended and they all left with a smile,
she said. When you see the kids [in the movie], you become totally
disarmed. Film and art are the best therapy.
Similarly, the discussion following the film was cultural in nature,
not political. Children of Jerusalem director Beverly Shaffer attended
one of the screenings. Many people asked her how the children she filmed
are affected by the current conflict.
Leduc said that the debate is based on freedom of speech and the respect
of others. People think before they speak, and there is a gentleness
that comes out.
The National Film Board donated all of the films for the festival. Future
presentations include Beyond Borders by Jennifer Kawaja, who followed
Arab women activists on a tour of the U.S. and Four Women of Egypt
by Tahani Rached, a documentary of divergent cultural and religious experiences
in Egypt. All of the presentations will be videotaped.
The GSA Middle East festival takes place every Wednesday night until mid-May from 7-9 p.m. at 2030 Mackay.