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KIPCOR film series meshes with goals of Bethel student activists

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College students’ interterm experiences have come together with the college’s connection to an Oklahoma film company to give campus and community a chance to look at Israel/Palestine through several different lenses – literally.

Last October, Bethel was one of the first 100 venues in the United States to screen the documentary Little Town of Bethlehem, sponsored by the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR) at Bethel College. Little Town of Bethlehem tells the stories of three men – a Palestinian Christian, a Palestinian Muslim and an Israeli Jew – using nonviolent methods to resolve conflict and work towards peace in their countries.

EthnoGraphic Media of Oklahoma City produced Little Town of Bethlehem. Jennifer Tipton, EGM’s San Francisco-based grassroots manager, found KIPCOR as she was looking at Bethel’s website for information on programs related to peace and social justice.

In January, 10 Bethel students participated in the biennial Jerusalem Seminar interterm course with Patty Shelly, professor of Bible and religion, and came home deeply affected by the stories they had heard from Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in West Bank and the Palestinian territories.

At the end of February, the students convened a group of interested community members to talk about their experiences and begin brainstorming ways the Bethel College community could actively respond. In the meantime, Tipton had queried KIPCOR staff about showing more films – an idea the students responded to with enthusiasm.

The KIPCOR 2010-11 film series continues Thursday, April 7, with Blood Relation. Checkpoint is scheduled for Tuesday, May 31, and Amreeka for Thursday, Sept. 15.

All screenings will be at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center and are free and open to the public, with freewill offerings taken.

Building on their experience with EGM, Tipton and her colleague Cary McQueen Morrow recently founded Art with Impact, with a mission “to connect people to global issues through art and media and provide them opportunities to share their voices and time in meaningful ways.”

In particular, Art with Impact strives to help students and community members join together and effect change, which meshes its purpose well with that of the Bethel students. Art with Impact works through three programs, one of which is the Underground Film Series.

Based upon its successful screening of Little Town of Bethlehem last fall, Art with Impact invited KIPCOR to participate in the new Underground Film Series. The inaugural series focuses on issues related to Israel/Palestine and features the three films to be shown at Bethel – Blood Relation and Checkpoint, both documentaries, and the feature film Amreeka.

The next Underground Film Series will be on mental health. For more about the series, see www.artwithimpact.org/underground-film-series.

Blood Relation follows the quest of its director, a young Israeli woman, to discover the truth about a great-aunt she never knew she had.

On a hot summer day in 1943, 14-year-old Pnina left her home in the Galilee province of Yavniel and disappeared. Twenty-four years later, she sent a letter revealing that she lived in the Askar al Jadid refugee camp near Nablus, married to a Muslim and the mother of eight.

Director Noa Ben Hagai, a granddaughter of Pnina’s sister, discovers the letter and, when she finds that Pnina’s children live in a refugee camp only a half-hour from her home in Tel Aviv, renews contact between the families.

This leads to a series of tough decisions and ultimately raises the question: If reconciliation within just one family is so complicated, what does that mean for reconciliation between the people of the Middle East?

Blood Relation will show Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium, with a time of discussion to follow. Peace Connections of Newton is co-sponsoring the film’s screening.

For more information about the showing of Blood Relation, contact KIPCOR at 316-284-5217.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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