Berkeley... Kent State... Amherst... It's no wonder that America's conservative right sees universities as breeding grounds for liberals. Their fear is understandable, since a typical university exposes young, idealistic minds to a cornucopia of cultures and ideas -- which can lead to free thinking. Terrifying!
This brings us to the fourth-annual Common Ground Film Festival, which is sponsored by Nova Southeastern University and begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Cinema Paradiso. While it hasn't quite substituted kosher vegan grub for popcorn, the fest does have a warm and fuzzy emphasis on "the common humanity shared by people in conflict." Promotional materials for the festival say that "the films selected are balanced in their portrayal of conflicts and issues; they avoid stereotyping by focusing on people as individuals rather than as representatives of groups... [and] they give audiences a broader context of the issues involved."
Tuesday's movie, Peace by Peace: Women on the Frontlines, is narrated by Jessica Lange and profiles women in Afghanistan, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, and the United States who are building the foundations for sustainable peace. Seeds (showing June 20) shows what happens when teenagers go to camp with people they'd always considered their enemies -- Israelis with Palestinians, and Indians with Pakistanis. Five more films spread over the next two weeks include a documentary about healing the wounds of the Vietnam War (The Friendship Village) and a comical cartoon about battling rainforest chameleons (Dinner for Two). It's enough to make you rip out the bongos, a hemp necklace, and some Birkenstocks and start singing "Kumbaya." We're even ready to share our soy milk with some Young Republicans.