Two Films, One Story, Part 1: Talking with Gini Reticker of 'Women, War & Peace'

12/17/2011 05:12 am ET

Gini Reticker directed "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" and "Peace Unveiled" for the PBS Series "Women, War & Peace" that's currently airing on Tuesday nights through November 8th. "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" tells the story of the Liberian women, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, who worked tirelessly to bring about peace after 14 years of war. "Peace Unveiled" highlights the daunting work of women in Afghanistan who are making sure their voices are heard in the process of finding lasting peace in their country.

The narrative of these two films weaves together with the other films in the series, not only spotlighting the ways women have been targeted in modern warfare, but accentuating their changing roles in the peace process. In "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," the Liberian women accomplished their goal of bringing about an end to the fighting that threatened to destroy the country. In "Peace Unveiled," fighting continues and the peace process is ongoing. Though they show different stages of the peace process, they are two films, one story.

As I think about these films, I can hear Leymah's voice ringing out that the women are tired of war, see her in new footage celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded and I think of the Afghan women sitting in a circle with Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, urging her to make sure they have a seat at the table during peace talks.

When I spoke with Gini Reticker, she shared her thoughts on the Nobel Peace Prize, cynicism in this country and the challenges in making these films. Her reaction to the announcement that Leymah was one of three women chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize this year was simple:

Utter joy. I feel that it's so clear that the intention was to really highlight the role of women. There's been a lot of talk about what they have achieved and what women can potentially achieve. I feel like it was really an incredible award for the idea of what women can do and I think Leymah is a terrific spokesperson for that. I think it's fabulous to recognize [Tawakkul Karman], an Islamic woman from Yemen. I'm just going through everything that we're saying in the series. I'm utterly over the moon. I was so overjoyed and overjoyed with the attention that it could hopefully bring to women in Afghanistan, to women fighting all over the world.

I had seen a tweet that someone put up about "Women, War & Peace" from a review in The Salt Lake Tribune -- "Individually, the films are powerful. Collectively, their narrative is heartbreaking and inspiring." I would add that the series opens up any conversation about war and peace in a new way to include women and the message from the Nobel Committee is the same. Gini pointed out:

In societies where women have greater equality, there's generally more democracy, there's less violence, there's less conflict and just greater democracy and greater economic development ... There's data proving that when women have equality, that the society does better across the board ... We had a breakfast a couple of weeks ago with the Norwegian Prime Minister. He was here for the UN General Assembly and he attributed the fact that there are less people dying in war today to the advancement of women. It makes sense, in spite of the fact that we all feel we live in such violent times. Clearly we do not want there to be war and we want there to be peace. But it's not like World War II where there were 75 million people killed in five years and there was an enormous amount of global massacre. He was really attributing that to the advancement of women.

Look for Part Two of my interview with Gini Reticker as we discuss more about her work on these compelling and important films.

"Pray the Devil Back to Hell" will air on Tuesday, October 18th on PBS as part of Women, War & Peace. "Peace Unveiled" shows later in the month on October 25th. For more details on the series, click here to visit the website with the full schedule and lots of extras.