Community Cinema Series brings global issues to Steamboat |

Community Cinema Series brings global issues to Steamboat

Nicole Inglis

Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, is the subject of "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," the film that will kick off the third Community Cinema Series. The screening takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

— In the bubble that can be Steamboat Springs, it's easy to think of world issues as happening in other places — across oceans, language barriers and cultures.

But through a partnership between Bud Werner Memorial Library's Community Cinema Series and local nonprofit Integrated Community last spring, a group of 12 Steamboat residents — refugees from a violent civil war in Mauritania — were introduced to the community.

"When you have one person in a community that has had that experience and is now rooted in the community … it becomes a local issue," said Tatiana Achcar, Integrated Community's executive director. "They're our neighbors, employees and friends."

That particular Community Cinema event back in March paired the Q-and-A session with the Mauritanian men and the screening of "Pushing the Elephant," a documentary about a Congolese refugee.

"I think there are a lot of people in the community who wouldn't otherwise know there are parallels between a small, remote, rural community and what seem to be very worldly issues," Achcar said.

The third season of Community Cinema kicks off Thursday night with "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," the story of a Liberian woman who took on a violent dictatorship. The film screens at 6:30 p.m. in Library Hall and is free to the public.

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The monthly, nine-film series is designed as an exercise in community and civic engagement using one-hour documentaries provided by PBS's award-winning Independent Lens series.

Library adult programs coordinator Jennie Lay said the Community Cinema series prides itself on finding ways to localize the issues.

"The topics are often global and incredibly touching, but it adds a lot of heart and a lot of context to put a local lens on the issues that these documentaries grapple with," Lay said.

In addition to Integrated Community, the library has partnered with organizations such as Transition Steamboat, Horizons Specialized Services and Yampatika.

The library still is looking for organizations interested in co-sponsoring this year's series.

Among the weighty and worldly issues the series addresses this season is the story of a lost native American culture struggling to revive itself on Martha's Vineyard, a film about an American Sign Language poet, environmental issues and the emotional struggles of an Afghan War veteran.

Lay said that the library is responsible for coordination, logistics and publicity, and that a partner organization would create a compelling complementary education program.

In the past, there have been art shows, hands-on activities, lectures and panels. At one screening, the audience was blindfolded to experience a film as a blind person would.

Achcar said the film series and community engagement activities provide an important platform to find local parallels to larger issues.

"Image and visuals have a great impact on most people," Achcar said. "It's an easy, appealing way to remind people of the differences but then also the commonalities, what makes us human.

"It builds understanding and collaboration, which we need on all levels in our community."

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

Series schedule

Thursday: “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”

Oct. 12: “Deaf Jam”

Nov. 21: “We Still Live Here”

Dec. 8: “Taking Root”

Jan. 16: “Daisy Bates”

Feb. 6: “More Than a Month”

March 19: “Revenge of the Electric Car”

April 4: “Hell and Back Again”

May 14: “Strong!”

All film screenings are free and start at 6:30 p.m. in Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

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