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On Screen & Stage @ La Biblioteca

Health care debate again, by Cliff DuRand

With the challenge to Obama’s health care plan coming before the U.S. Supreme Court this week, the Administration’s signature legislative accomplishment is once again in the news. And public attention to the issues is assured by the demonstrations in front of the Supreme Court building that it has encouraged.

Film, Center for Global Justice presents, Sicko by Michael Moore, Thu, Mar 29, 3pm, Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A, 60 pesos

Michael Moore’s 2007 award winning documentary Sicko reminds us of the failings of a health care system that is one of the most expensive in the world and yet has 50 million uninsured citizens, 18,000 of whom die each year because they are uninsured. However, the film focuses not on them, but on the inadequacies for the insured whose claims are denied or policies canceled so that private insurance companies can achieve higher profits and on those who are driven to bankruptcy by high medical bills—important issues addressed by the legislation Congress finally passed in 2009 after a bruising political battle.

But President Obama failed to confront the profit-driven healthcare system that is the source of the problems. The solution? Public opinion in the U.S. has overwhelmingly favored universal single-payer health coverage like Canada has. The U.S. is the only industrialized country without it, where it is tarred as “socialized medicine.” Elsewhere it is simply seen as social insurance. As a result, France, Britain, Canada, and even poor Cuba have better delivery systems than the U.S.  Moore gives France’s socialized medicine considerable attention. There, doctors lead comfortable lives, patients receive attentive care, and employers grant extended health-related leaves — all reasons the World Health Organization ranked France tops in its global 2000 survey of the best healthcare countries. The U.S. ranked 37th.

Cuba’s extensive system of free preventative health care for everyone also comes in for praise. Moore took three 9/11 Ground Zero volunteers to Cuba for free treatment they could not receive in their own country. Moore certainly knows how to tweak the establishment. That’s why his films, topical though they may be, are of continuing relevance. But now the focus must be on the Supreme Court as well as the insurance industry.

Women, War and Peace, by Cliff DuRand

The vast majority of today’s conflicts are not fought by nation states and their armies, but rather by informal entities: gangs and warlords using small arms and improvised weapons.

Film, Center for Global Justice presents, Women, War and Peace, Tue, Mar 27, 3pm, Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A, Donations 60 pesos

The post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualties. Yet they are simultaneously emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict.

As part of International Women’s Month, the Center for Global Justice will screen portions of last fall’s PBS series Women, War and Peace. This series spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframing our understanding of modern warfare.

Episode 1, “I Came to Testify”, is the moving story of how a group of 16 women who had been imprisoned and raped by Serb-led forces in the Bosnian town of Foca broke history’s great silence—and stepped forward to take the witness stand in an international court of law. Their remarkable courage resulted in a triumphant verdict that led to new international laws about sexual violence in war.

The capstone episode, “War Redefined,” challenges the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain through incisive interviews with leading thinkers, Secretaries of State and seasoned survivors of war and peace-making. Interviewees include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; Bosnian war crimes investigator Fadila Memisevic; and globalization expert Moisés Naím. This powerful film will move you with the courage of women putting their lives at risk protesting the injustice of war.

We were here, by Bill Weber

We Were Here is the first documentary to take a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. It explores how the city’s inhabitants were affected by, and how they responded to, that calamitous epidemic.

Film, We Were Here, Wed, Mar 28, 3pm, Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A, 60 pesos

Though a San Francisco-based story, We Were Here extends beyond San Francisco and beyond AIDS itself. It speaks to our capacity as individuals to rise to the occasion, and to the incredible power of a community coming together with love, compassion, and determination.

2011 marks 30 years since AIDS descended. Like an unrelenting hurricane, the epidemic roiled San Francisco for two decades and only began granting some reprieve with medical advancements in the late 90s. We Were Here utilizes San Francisco’s experience with AIDS to open up an overdue conversation both about the history of the epidemic, and the lessons to be learned from it.

We Were Here focuses on 5 individuals—all of whom lived in San Francisco prior to the epidemic. Their lives changed in unimaginable ways when their beloved city changed from a hotbed of sexual freedom and social experimentation into the epicenter of a terrible sexually transmitted plague. From their different vantage points as caregivers, activists, researchers, as friends and lovers of the afflicted, and as people with AIDS themselves, the interviewees share stories which are not only intensely personal, but which also illuminate the much larger themes of that era: the political and sexual complexities, the terrible emotional toll, the role of women —particularly lesbians—in caring for and fighting for their gay brothers.

Archival imagery conveys an unusually personal and elegiac sense of San Francisco in the pre-AIDS years, and a window into the compassionate and courageous community response to the suffering and loss that followed. And it also conveys in a very visceral sense the horrors of the disease itself.

The film was produced and directed by David Weissman. Editor and co-director Bill Weber will be present for this screening and will be in discussion with San Miguel artist Anado McLauchlin after the film.

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