Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Social action class seeks aid

'Women on the Frontlines' film part of international fundraiser

Express Staff Writer

Gussie Ochi, left, and Scarlet Caldwell, two Community School students, pose with Sharbat Gula, a photo portrait by Steve McCurry, that was on the cover of National Geographic in 1985. Ochi and Caldwell have organized a viewing of this image and another by McCurry of the Dalai Lama, as part of a fundraiser along with a showing of the film "Women on the Frontlines." Photo by David N. Seelig

Inspired at the premier viewing of the documentary film, "Women on the Frontlines," at the nexStage Theatre in September, students from Chris McAvoi's social and political action class at The Community School are bringing the film back for a second viewing.

The film is narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Jessica Lange and celebrates the unheralded work of women peace builders worldwide. Filmed in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Argentina and the United States, the documentary takes viewers into the lives of women working to build peace out of conflict and crisis.

The program will be at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4 at The Community School Theater in Sun Valley.

The event is part of the students' own political action to provide people with an opportunity to keep abreast of global politics and participate in charitable giving to people in need.

"It makes me more aware of what's going on in the world," said Gussie Ochi, who has helped organize the film showing for a second time since the sold-out showing at the nexStage Theatre. "It makes you think about what you want to do."

Co-organizer of Saturday's event, Scarlet Caldwell, said the original showing inspired her and wants people who may have missed the event in September get a chance to feel the power of the film.

International journalist Karen Day, a Hailey resident, hosted the Peace Day viewing and spoke about the importance of peace activism.

"When I heard about it I wanted to be a part of it right away," Caldwell said, explaining how she was moved to help carry the torch of peace. "Karen is so amazing, so talented."

Saturday's showing will accompany a silent auction of portraits by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry.

The auction and the film are both part of a fundraiser for two non-profits, Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to helping women in war-torn corners of the world, and the Tibetan Orphans Fund. In September ticket sales alone raised nearly $3,000.

"We need to do whatever we can to get the word out," Caldwell said. "It is interesting and important. People should at least see the movie."

McCurry's photographs of the Dalai Lama and the famous image of Sharbat Gula, the Afghani woman McCurry photographed as a girl 20 years ago, are on exhibit this week at the Ochi Gallery on Lewis Street in Ketchum. Both photographs will be auctioned off at the Community School and funds will go to the Women for Women International and the Tibetan Orphans Fund.

Caldwell said her favorite of the two is the photograph of Sharbat Gula.

"That one's so much more grasping," she said.

In addition to the showing and fundraiser, Ochi and Caldwell also hope to raise money to adopt a woman abroad who needs assistance. They plan to hold bake sales, a barbecue and raise other donations. They hope to make the aid program an annual Community School project.

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