CAMDEN, Maine — At last fall’s Pop!Tech symposium in Camden, Laura Waters Hinson captivated the crowd with her description of reconciliation in the genocide-wracked African nation of Rwanda.
“Her talk was one of the most embraced,” said Kerry Hadley, manager of the Camden Opera House.
Hinson made a documentary about her experiences, “As We Forgive.” It has won film festival awards and garnered acclaim from actress-activist Mia Farrow.
But it never has been shown in New England.
That will change Saturday at Camden’s 2009 International Film Festival of the Spirit.
“It’s a miraculous film,” said festival founder and director Steve Donoso. “She found herself in a country that was in the middle of going through the process of reconciliation. They let 60,000 genocide perpetrators out of jail … and they had nowhere to go but back to the villages they helped destroy. It’s a miraculous film, which takes a very dark subject — you can’t get much darker — that has some good come out of it.”
The film, and the others that will be shown during the day, fit Donoso’s master plan for the festival. When he began it in 2003, the Rockland librarian was hoping to show movies in midcoast Maine that might not be seen otherwise. And he believes those movies might have an impact that lasts longer than the daylong festival.
“I hope that people are inspired, that they’re moved,” he said.
The festival marks the first time the Opera House will use its new high-definition projector.
Donoso said he always enjoys choosing the films for the festival — this year, there are three documentaries, a feature film and four short films from the Global Oneness Project — but this year, the global economic crisis caused him some moments of doubt.
“This year, we have no financial sponsors,” Donoso said. “We have wonderful promotional sponsors, but there just wasn’t money. We had to take a look and say, ‘Do we want to do this anyway?’ And partly due to what was going on this year, we said yes.”
Another film he’s looking forward to seeing is called “Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action,” by a Toronto filmmaker with the unlikely name of Velcrow Ripper. Ripper won the Special Jury Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004 for a previous film, “Scared Sacred,” and he will come to Camden to present his new movie and to answer questions afterward.
His film features such luminaries and celebrities as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker and tree sitter Julia “Butterfly” Hill, who share their stories of resistance and transformation.
These stories, and others, are important ones to hear, Donoso said.
“I hope that it leaves people asking a question about what they could do right where they’re living,” he said. “What small things can we do to connect with our communities?”
For information or tickets, visit the Web site www.camdenoperahouse.com or call 470-7066