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  2. Douglas Roche

    Douglas Roche

The Strength of Peace

The Strength of Peace

The best films last far beyond their initial showing and, in capturing enduring values, acquire a timeless quality. The NFB Playlist on War and Peace that I have chosen contains films produced over the past few decades, but all of them speak to the issues underneath today’s headlines. Whether a graphic depiction of the horrors of nuclear war, a journey around the world to find “the other way,” or a heartfelt examination of the reasons to oppose war, these films are graceful and lucid in their depiction of what a culture of peace is all about.

It is a great paradox that, while most people now reject war as a means to resolve conflict, they are reluctant, perhaps even afraid, to embrace wholeheartedly the means to peace. Every year, the public pays tribute to fallen warriors of past conflicts. From time to time, some march against the idea of a new war. But we do not inculcate into our daily lives the very essence of peace so that it is constantly reflected in all the pageantry and policies of society. Although we honour the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, we shun the idea of making peace education compulsory for all children.

Advocates of a culture of peace hope to change this so that the operational norms of modern life become a respect for all life, rejection of violence, sharing with others, preservation of the planet, and acceptance of the common ground we all live on. The best, if not the only, way to bring this about is through education. Films are, of course, a blend of entertainment and education, and the films here vibrantly project the culture of peace.

You will meet many fascinating individuals who have faced up to the demands of peace: Helen Caldicott, the indefatigable physician who campaigns against the horrors of nuclear war; Velcrow Ripper, armed with only a camera, who peers into the heart and soul of cultures around the world; Ted and John Friesen, two Mennonite brothers from Winkler, Manitoba, who agonize over conscientious objection to participating in war. The towering figure of Jo Rotblat, the Polish nuclear scientist who turned his back on nuclear weapons, founded the Pugwash movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize, looms over this collection. The new NFB film on his life, The Strangest Dream, graphically captures his joyful strength and essential message: If you want peace, prepare for peace. With a probing boldness and artistic flair, that is exactly what these films do.

Douglas Roche

The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., is an author, parliamentarian and diplomat who has specialized throughout his 35-year public career in peace and human security issues. He lectures widely on peace and nuclear disarmament themes. Mr. Roche was a Senator, Member of Parliament, Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta. He was elected Chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Committee at the 43rd General Assembly in 1988. The author of 19 books, his latest is his memoirs, Creative Dissent: A Politician’s Struggle for Peace, published by Novalis in 2008. Mr. Roche holds seven honourary doctorates from Canadian and American universities and has received numerous awards for his work for peace and non-violence, including the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation for World Peace award.

  • The Strangest Dream
    2008|1 h 29 min

    This is a documentary on the life of Jo Rotblat, who mobilized the world’s leading scientists to save the world from nuclear annihilation and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his life-long dedication. Rotblat and the Pugwash movement have inspired thoughtful people everywhere.

  • If You Love This Planet
    1982|25 min

    “It’s appropriate to be passionate” about ridding the world of nuclear weapons. That’s what world-renowned nuclear disarmament activist Helen Caldicott says in this film. It’s interesting that U.S. President Ronald Reagan said the same thing. But Helen means it.

  • Scared Sacred
    2004|1 h 44 min

    Award-winning filmmaker Velcrow Ripper searches in a multitude of ground zeros around the world for hope in the darkest places. Whether in Kabul, Palestine, Hiroshima or New York, he finds hope for peace when a decision has been made to choose “the other way” from violence. An appropriate title for a beautiful film.

  • The Pacifist Who Went to War
    2002|51 min

    The Mennonites who came to Canada in the 19th century had a guarantee from the government of Canada they would not be conscripted to fight wars, but those who came in later years did not. When World War II started, opinions in the Mennonite community in southern Manitoba diverged about whether to fight. John Friesen went to war; his brother Ted did not. The community had to discover what true peace-making is.

  • Return to Dresden
    1986|27 min

    The carpet bombing of Dresden, Germany in 1945 was a prelude to the massive destruction wrought by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Forty years later, the city celebrated its renaissance with the opening of a new opera house. One of the guests was a Canadian navigator of one of the bomber planes. Now an ardent peace activist, he discovers the humanity that rose from the rubble.

  • Uranium
    1990|47 min

    Buffy Sainte-Marie and Rosalie Bertell in the same film? The Native American singer and the scientist nun expose the risks of mining uranium in the Canadian heartland. The nuclear power defenders get their say, but it’s clear that the cost of mining uranium is too high: it’s the same material that is used to produce nuclear weapons. And the nuclear waste is immensely dangerous.