Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
April Conway, Staff Writer
It seemed to be an all-day event. Careful preparation and communication kept everyone involved and on the same page. Students, faculty, and staff were all informed and invited, and sessions were successfully set up.
The time for the annual Reimert Lecture Series had arrived on March 14, and all that was needed was the keynote speaker. She was definitely worth the wait.
Abigail E. Disney, an American filmmaker and philanthropist, is known for her films and organizations focused on social issues. Her lecture was titled “Why Women Matter,” and she concentrated on how women can change lives.
Before the main event, Disney sat down with a group of students for an informal discussion where questions could be asked and insight given.
Several questions, focused around Disney’s 2008 documentary entitled “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” included how did she know what was going on, and what pushed her through those terrible days.
Disney met a group of women who had the goal of helping others. When there was an opportunity to go with this group to help out in Liberia, she took the chance.
She met women who had power, and heard the stories of their people through them. It upset her, because if she did not know about this, than what else had she missed? After her time spent in Liberia, she came back to the United States and decided to make a movie about what she experienced.
One story that she shared with the students was of her time spent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After meeting some women in leadership roles throughout the cities, Disney received a call one night from a friend who was down the hall from her in their hotel.
The friend was crying to her about how she witnessed a young girl—naked—being thrown out of the room of a man, who refused to pay her. The police beat her and threw her into the trunk of their car, and no one watching from their doorways, mostly men, made a move to help her.
When the movie premiered is his country, a man sent a letter to the creators containing photographs of women who gained strength from this film. And the discussions that women had after their viewings were revolutionary.
Most of the subject matter was hard to swallow, but there was always an experience that made the journey worth it. The emotions that were experienced during the good and bad times ranged from happiness to sadness, and frustration to anger.
“One of your jobs as a positive person the world is to take that anger and turn it into something,” said Disney. “That’s the fuel to keep working, talking, and doing.”
Another question asked was how do you channel all of these emotions that are experienced?
Disney likes to ask what is it that she can bring that no one else brings.
“You need to be on a marathon run, and not on a sprint. If you jump in with both feet, the problems are still going to be there tomorrow,” Disney said.
One of the final questions asked was if Disney had any advice for young women going into a field, such as film, that is dominated by men.
“Don’t be afraid,” said Disney. “If I’m not afraid than I am probably not doing enough.”
She also including another running metaphor: when you run and get sore muscles, it is just a feeling of progress. Move forward in spite of it.
The idea of women moving forward was also seen in her main lecture later that evening.
Disney spoke about how women are being written out of the stories of war. She said that women are not the only ones who promote peace, but women do life, and they do it as their job. If you want to care about the world and peace, you would have to care about women.
And Disney urges us—the men and women of Cedar Crest and of the world—to go out and make communities peaceful.
“It is some of the most fulfilling work you can have in your life,” Disney concluded.