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KIPCOR series begins with film on refugees' unusual journey across Europe

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College opens its 2015'16 Film Series with a look at issues as current as the headlines.

On the Bride’s Side will screen in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center Sept. 18 at 3 p.m.

Jennifer Doran-Pena, executive director of the International Rescue Committee, Wichita, will lead the post-film talk-back portion of the event.

Not quite a documentary or a feature film, On the Bride’s Side crosses genres to give a glimpse into the issues that refugees from Syria face when they try to escape their war-ravaged country for Europe.

The film complements the exhibit currently in Bethel’s Regier Art Gallery, also in Luyken Fine Arts Center. Building Bridges consists of 29 paintings by artists from Iraq and Palestine who were refugees themselves and now live in North America and Europe. The gallery will be open in the hour before the film starts.

When a Palestinian poet and an Italian journalist meet five Palestinians and Syrians in Milan who entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa after fleeing the war in Syria, they decide to help these five reach their destination of Sweden.

They plan to do it by faking a wedding (with the five refugees as the groom and his family), though they risk getting themselves arrested as human traffickers in the process.

A Palestinian woman friend agrees to pose as the bride. Eventually, there are 23 people, including Italian and Syrian friends who’ve volunteered to be the “wedding guests,” a filmmaker friend and his crew. Nov. 14, 2013, this group, dressed as if for a wedding, begins a journey across Europe over four days and 3,000 kilometers.

Besides bringing out the stories, hopes and dreams of the five refugees and their “traffickers,” On the Bride’s Side also reveals a mostly unknown side of Europe – transnational, supportive and irreverent when it comes to the laws and restrictions of “Fortress Europe.”

On the Bride’s Side was written and directed by Antonio Augugliaro, Gabriele del Grande (the journalist) and Khaled Soliman al Nassiry (the poet). It was funded, according to the production notes, by “the biggest crowdfunding campaign … in the history of Italian cinema.”

The film won the Human Rights Nights Award at the Venice Film Festival, along with the Fedic Award from the Italian Federation of Cineclubs, the Best Documentary Award at the Terra di Cinema Film Festival, France, and the Grand Prize of Geneva at the FIFDH Film Festival in Switzerland.

The Bethel screening of On the Bride’s Side is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support the film series and the work of the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR).

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2016'17 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.