Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hello, Denver!

Barbara Bridges and her extraordinary Women+Film Festival know how to celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day! I'm here in Denver for a screening of BEYOND BELIEF and a fundraiser for our 10th anniversary of 9/11 national outreach effort. (All the while eating what is most definitely too much movie popcorn and enjoying beautiful French films like POTICHE starring Catherine Deneuve and QUEEN-TO-PLAY, Kevin Klein's first French-speaking role).

I am struck today by David Brooks' NYT editorial about our over-confident nation. As Americans, we're collectively self-indulgent and the accolades we expect don't match our merits. As Gerald Chertavian, founder of Year Up, told me this week, "There is no free lunch. If you're not willing to work your ass off, then you can't expect access or opportunity." Yet, lots of people do. And they want compliments, to boot! Not surprising then that a recent study shows college students would prefer to have their egos puffed up than eat their favorite food or even - gasp - have sex.

Brooks' most interesting observation is the link between magnification of self and the decline of values around citizenship. "Citizenship, after all," he writes, "is built on an awareness that we are not all that special but are, instead, enmeshed in a common enterprise." He is focused on ideas of national citizenship, but I believe the same applies to global citizenship. It's important, then, to see ourselves as a small link in a larger generational chain - so that things that inflate our sense of self today don't mean abdicating responsibility for tomorrow.

The films programmed by the talented Tammy Brislin of the Denver Film Society are helping to inspire many thoughts about how not to succumb to our "all-me" culture. She had first envisioned a 2.5 day festival to honor International Women's Day - but after 2 martinis and 2 weeks of pressure from DFS director Tom Botelho, found herself in charge of a 6 day festival exploring and celebrating women's voices and the inclusive spirit that defines them.

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