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Youth film festival visits D.C. and Baltimore

Youth collaborate during a workshop about militarization Photo: Bryan Vana / AFSC
Humanize Not Militarize 2016 participants Photo: Bryan Vana / AFSC
Greenboro, NC's Peace & Economic Justice group Photo: Bryan Vana / AFSC
Youth organize an action on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bryan Vana / AFSC

Organized by AFSC’s Chicago and Indianapolis, IL staff, this year’s Humanize Not Militarize youth film festival in Washington, D.C. was a great success, drawing entries from all over the country and a wonderful group of young people who were able to meet each other in person and participate in workshops and leadership training sessions.

The young filmmakers gathered in both Baltimore and D.C. to strategize around what they thought society needs to become more humanized and less militarized, starting with pointed questions: What do you really need in your school, community, country or world to thrive? How does militarism meet these needs? How does it force people to migrate from one community or country to another, and how can that be changed?

Fernando Jimenez, an intern with AFSC’s NC Peace & Economic Justice program, wrote and edited his own film 10 for the festival—a thoughtful, focused piece that challenges the roots of militarism and encourages people to speak up and band together in opposition of its negative effects.

“So why not fund education, public services and implement more immigrant integration,” Jiminez rhymes, “and yes, this is the concept of humanization, because to humanize is to make something more humane or  civilized.”

After wrapping up a weekend of collaborative and productive sessions with Baltimore’s Peace by Piece program and a premiere of their films at D.C.’s famous Busboys & Poets, the group turned its attention to the National Mall, where on the third day of the event participants staged an action to draw attention to the negative impacts on militarism.

Using a movable display of boxes they had crafted between trainings, the youth created a pop-up wall symbolizing the interlocking systems of oppression and broke it down, then rebuilt it emphasizing the opposite sides of the boxes to show what a community looks like without militarization. The action was filmed and reflected upon in organizer Debbie Southorn’s piece “7 lessons from youth on militarism, grassroots resistance” on AFSC’s website.

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