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Windrider Film Forum aims at hearts and minds

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'The story unfolds like an episode of CSI: Brazil," says Daniel Junge, writer and director of the documentary They Killed Sister Dorothy, one of this year's features at the third annual Windrider Film Forum.

Sister Dorothy, part historical biography, part courtroom drama, documents the life and work of Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic nun from Dayton, Ohio, mysteriously killed in the Brazilian Amazon. It won the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival, and was an official selection at the 2008 Seattle International Film Festival.

Both Colorado College alumni Junge and creative partner Henry Ansbacher, founder of the production company Just Media, credit their CC years as influential in their desire to make movies promoting social justice through well-crafted story. I ask Junge if he thinks art influences social change or social change influences art, and he replies that he and Ansbacher wouldn't make movies if they didn't think they could motivate change.

"Social provocation through mass appeal," he says, "is what hooks people and makes them want to dive passionately into issues."

The formula must work. Their three collaborative films have attracted the attention of Congress (Iron Ladies of Liberia will play to the 110th next week) as well as a major broadcaster who acquired the rights to Sister Dorothy and plans to release the film in early 2009. Homeboys are doing all right.

In addition to raising our social consciousness, Sister Dorothy and the other Windrider selections seek to inspire dialogue between normally disparate points of view. The festival opens with American Teen at Kimball's, a Breakfast Club-like documentary for 2008 (see p. 31), and closes with a feature about the tough work of volunteerism in Sri Lanka after the 2005 tsunami, entitled The Third Wave. Each film offers the audience opportunity to converse with the filmmakers at a reception hosted by Windrider's sponsors: Colorado College, Fuller Theological Seminary, Kimball's Twin Peak Theater and Pikes Peak United Way, among others.

When I note the ideological differences between sponsors, Will Stoller-Lee, Windrider coordinator and director of Fuller's Colorado program, says, "Look, I'm a CC grad who works for Fuller. It's not helpful for us to assume we live in separate universes."

Stoller-Lee wearies of simplicity: "I became involved with Windrider in part to recover what's best about our community. I've lived here my whole life and I can tell you we've not always been polarized between conservative and liberal, religious and non-religious."

At the same time, Stoller-Lee suggests, "we cannot exclude religion from public conversation, particularly issues of religious faith that celebrate the passion and social activism that move people because of their faith."

Stoller-Lee hopes the film forum will remind Colorado Springs that various religious traditions believe in art, culture and dialogue between different points of view.

Deidre Schoolcraft


Windrider Film Forum feature films

American Teen
Kimball's Twin Peak Theater, 115 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Thursday, July 24, 7:45 p.m.

They Killed Sister Dorothy
CC's Armstrong Theater,
14 E. Cache la Poudre St.
Friday, July 25, 7 p.m.

The Third Wave
CC's Armstrong Theater,
14 E. Cache la Poudre St.
Saturday, July 26, 6 p.m.

Tickets: $5-$10 per film; call 385-0085 or visit windridercolorado.com for full film schedule and more.

  • Junge and Ansbacher wouldn't make movies if they couldn't motivate change.

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