Introductory Remarks at the Landmark E Street Showing
May 19, 2011 Posted in: Blog/News 0

The post screening discussion at the Landmark E Street Premiere on May 10th was moderated by Nadia Diuk of the National Endowment for Democracy. Before opening the floor to questions, she shared with us and with the audience her thoughts on the film, the complex history of Galicia and the takeaway lessons for anyone involved in supporting democracy.

This is the first time I have watched this version of the film and must say that it has gotten stronger each time I’ve seen it. I prefer this current title “Three Stories Of Galicia,” to the original “Land of Dilemmas” because the telling of stories plays an important role in the way we build up our knowledge of the past and learn about our place in society and the world. The telling of stories in many countries and cultures is the way each generation learns values and the way they are passed from generation to generation.

But coming up with the definitive version of what happened in the past is often problematic. As anyone who has studied history knows, it is usually the “winners” who get to write the history. In this part of the world, in the Galicia that we can no longer find on a map, unfortunately, there were no “winners” after the Second World War. The true histories of Ukraine and Poland have only started to be written in the past twenty years—since democracy came to Poland and Ukraine became an independent state. This film is a valuable contribution to filling out those “blank pages” that have existed in the history of this period up until now.

For anyone involved in supporting democracy there is also another valuable lesson contained in this film. In any situation where ethnic, religious or national groups are in conflict, even though reconciliation may seem unlikely and impossible, and the experts claim that “centuries of hatred” prevent dialogue, the first step almost always comes on the basic level of simple humanity. There will always be people who choose to follow their conscience and go against the tide to do the right thing, to connect to positive, human values, as opposed to what is expected or what is easy.

We are already one or two generations away from the three stories told in this film about people who lived through one of most devastating periods of history. But these stories are not unique to either time or place. We have seen similar situations more recently in former Yugoslavia, Africa, and the Middle East. By presenting these stories, the filmmakers remind us that there is always the light of hope in every desperate situation, and that faith in the basic courage and decency of ordinary people will always prevail in the end.

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