Тhe transformative power of art in peacebuilding: How movies and other forms of expression promote healing and reconciliation

Author: Anja Jovanovikj

Art has the ability to inspire, provoke, and transform others, which is why peacebuilding is such a common theme in art, with the goal to open people's eyes, talk about problems and how to solve them.

Art holds a sufficient amount of power and many concepts can be expressed through different kinds of art, such as music, theater, visual arts, dance and literature. All of these forms of art are profound in their own way, as it takes a lot to truly understand what the artist is trying to portray, and even then, each piece of art has many different perceptions as every individual perceives things in a unique way. 

Art has the ability to inspire, provoke, and transform others, which is why peacebuilding is such a common theme in art, with the goal to open people's eyes, talk about problems and how to solve them. 

Movies are a way to portray a common experience to a larger audience, something that most people can relate to and even if not, when represented well, they will still get to feel what others felt and understand what they’ve been through. There are many movies that promote peacebuilding, as well as many film festivals which showcase these movies, one of which is Giffoni. I have been part of Giffoni Macedonia for 6 years now, and each year I am astonished by the films that we get to watch there. Each edition of the Festival has a theme, and the movies in competition often follow that theme. The last edition of Giffoni Macedonia (2022) had the theme of “Invisible Power”, and this year's movies were some of the best that I have seen and they had a big impact on me. One of the movies was an Italian movie by the name “The Shift”, directed by Alessandro Tonda, which brought light to how even paramedics could be put in danger and how they are also heroes, as not a lot of attention is brought to them in comparison to police officers or firefighters. The movie was about a school bombing/ shooting committed by two teenage boys that attended the high school. Their reasonings were due to an influence by an older person who used to be their football coach, who recruited them to what I perceived as a cult, as he had convinced them that people who didn’t believe in Allah should not be alive, as well as if they died that they would have a peaceful afterlife due to being such faithful followers of Allah. Although this movie isn’t directly connected to the topic of peace, it showed how easily younger generations can be influenced and how even so, they can still be saved from this kind of influence, which in the long run would bring peace to these victims and the people around them. 

Movies are a powerful tool, especially when it comes to younger generations. Even though the internet is rich with interesting content covering topics about peace in our world, such as speeches, Ted talks, articles, blogs, and more, unfortunately, not many young people have the patience to read or listen to all of the above. That is exactly why movies are the perfect way to showcase peacebuilding and inspire the younger generations. Movies can feature peace topics in creative ways with different plot lines, concepts and ideas, to the point where there are countless peacebuilding movies, yet they are all different and worth watching. 

There are many movies representing peace that many don’t even realize, such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, or Avatar. Although they do not cover our own Earth’s peace, they represent what it’s like to try and keep a form of peace amongst their own worlds, trying to come together, and in Star Wars’ case, resolving conflicts that lasted a whole trilogy. And many kids grew up and will continue to grow up with these movies, meaning they are shown a good influence from a young age, all through a creative movie that is interesting to watch yet it also has a meaningful message behind it. 

Besides this, movies are also straightforward, being created just to get the point across that in this modern time, after fighting for countless years, we still do not have the peace we deserve, and one of those movies is “The Hate U Give” directed by George Tillman Jr. This movie was based on a novel released in 2017, which was also based on a true story about how police officers shot an unarmed African-American man Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. I strongly recommend this movie as it is extremely well-made and presents its message in a very powerful way.

In conclusion, movies are a lot more than just entertainment. They portray many of our world’s issues in such a way that inspires you to make a change. Even the most melancholy movies which showcase terrifying views of our world, are still considered beautiful and are well-liked by the population as it is showing the truth, it is bringing attention to the problems we face every day, and it is done in the form of art.

About the author:

Anja Jovanovikj

Age: 17

Country: North Macedonia

City: Skopje

School: Nova International School

Juror in Giffoni Macedonia: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019

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