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Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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Film: "Long Night's Journey Into Day"

Here is an idea for fundraising events for UER.

Susan Freundlich, a Co-Counseling leader in Oakland, California, USA has made available to us copies of an excellent film called "Long Night's Journey Into Day" through her friends, California filmmakers Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman, who directed the film. They have generously offered us the possibility of using the film at a very reasonable cost to raise funds for UER.

"Long Night's Journey Into Day" is an emotionally powerful film about racism and South Africa's work to heal from the effects of apartheid. It documents the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by telling the stories of 5 different families and follows them through their appearance and testimony to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was awarded the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary and was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Documentary (these are very prestigious awards in the USA film industry). A number of us have previewed it and recommend it for showing as a centerpiece for fundraising/going public events.

The idea would be to use the showing of the film as an opportunity to give people some information about RC and what we are doing in RC about racism, and to give people some experience of that work. Hopefully, gatherings set up this way would accomplish this goal as well as raise funds for UER.

There are currently screenings being scheduled by the filmmakers in the US. It would be useful for any of you who are considering using the film to attend a screening to see the audience response and have a number of sessions on it yourself. You can also rent the video in many video stores.

Our fundraisers can't conflict with the filmmakers' screenings and so obtaining copies for use for our fundraisers will have to be carefully coordinated through me well in advance. If your Community wants to obtain a copy (either video or film format), please contact me immediately with a date or dates that you'd like to show it so I can check with the filmmakers to be sure there's no conflict with their bookings and that there is time for the copies to arrive at the right place at the right time, and so I can arrange for shipping, payment, etc.

PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE FILMMAKERS DIRECTLY. We need to have the requests from RC come to them in an organized fashion, only through me. It's important that we don't bombard them with questions and communications from lots of different people. Please email me at to begin the process of planning.

In terms of events for showing the film I suggest 3 kinds of settings:

  • small gatherings in people's homes for 10-15 people
  • a gathering in a home, church, community center, etc., for between 15 and 150 people
  • an event in a small movie theater that could hold 250-500 people (a film print would work best in this kind of situation, though most theaters are equipped to show a video version)

If you want to get more of a sense of the background of the film, the filmmakers, Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman, and their perspective in making this film so you can think about how to shape your presentation, you can visit Iris Film's website at, and specifically the area called "Filmmakers Q & A." The web site will also contain updated information about screenings they are planning for their own purposes.

Information about obtaining and showing the film.

  • It is 95 minutes running time

  • It is available in the form of 35mm film copies for a movie theater or video copies for smaller venues
  • There is no charge if you show the video in your home for a gathering of fewer than fifteen people
  • The cost for showing a video copy in a gathering of fifteen or more people in a place ohter than a theater is U.S. $150-200
  • The cost for showing a film print in a movie theater is a minimum of U.S. $250.
  • You will need to charge enough per person to cover costs for the film as well as for UER fundraising. (If you have a big event that brings in a lot of money you could send the filmmakers more than the minimum since they have incurred huge expenses in the making of the film and are allowing us to have it for so little money.)

I would suggest that at least two of you from each community that wants to show the film preview it and have lots of mini sessions as you watch it. You can then decide how you want to relate it to the larger picture of ending racism and how to set up the event so that people in the wide world have a chance to work on feelings as they watch it. UER also has some resources we will send you to help you think about using the film.

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you about getting a copy of the film and also your report on how you used it in a UER going public event.

With love, Ellie

Ellie Putnam

Download sample flyer advertising film showing (PDF File)

Using the film "Long Nights' Journey Into Day"
to Fundraise for United to End Racism

Please make sure you have looked at all of the film well before the time you are going to show it, so that you have a chance to both understand what the film portrays and to work on the restimulations that will come up, both because of the subject of the film and because of the cases chosen for use in the film. The most restimulating part of the film for most viewers is that the film starts out with the case of young black men accused of murdering a white U.S. woman (Amy Biehl). Knowing of the horrors of decades of apartheid, many viewers are upset that the movie doesn't begin by highlighting the crimes of white people.

The black men accused of the murder were three years into serving a sentence of 18 years of hard labor for the killing, and were among the first to apply for amnesty. Amy Biehl's killing was given international press at the time and their application for amnesty also received a tremendous amount of press coverage in South Africa. That her parents didn't oppose amnesty was unusual, and the filmmakers focused on the developing relationship between the parents of Amy Biehl and the black men's mothers. Despite the many crimes of apartheid, the fact is that the vast majority of people in prison and accused of crimes in South Africa were black, not white, and so it is black people who overwhelmingly applied for amnesty.

You need to be ready to help other people with their restimulations and discharging on yours is a key part of that. Please plan on there being restimulations and think about ways to allow and encourage people to discharge on them. Perhaps scheduling mini-sessions before, after, and maybe stopping the film once or twice during. Your watching the film will help you figure out how to plan that.

It would be useful for people to have a copy of the review of the film from The Boston Globe. You can get copies from Ellie Putnam. You should have a stack of these at the showing and can use them ahead of time in publicizing the showing.

You will need to explain to people, both in publicizing the showing and at the showing, that (1) this film is not an RC film, but a good to look at South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Process (see description on the reverse) by two independent filmmakers, and (2) that the Truth and Reconciliation process is also not RC, but a very good, honest attempt by a government to face the difficulties caused by distresses and the ongoing damage they cause. If there are non-Co-Counselors watching the film, you should give a three minute introduction to RC to help them make this distinction. This should include a description of mini-sessions and how you will use these during the evening. The following may help you think about how to present RC and this film.

In RC, we see oppressive and destructive behavior as not inherent to human beings, but rather the result of the damage the humans carry due to having been hurt and oppressed in their lives. This damage, which we call distress recordings, pushes people to act not on the basis of their best thinking, but on the basis of their fears and angers. Especially in oppressive circumstances, people can act very destructively and inhumanly toward each other because of these distress recordings. Much of this, of course, happened in a very oppressive situation under apartheid in South Africa. As in every oppressive society, everyone gets hurt. Those who are targeted by oppression and those who are conditioned to be the agents of the oppression, and the resulting distress recordings get acted out by both groups: acted out as part of the oppressive policies by those trained to be agents of oppression, acted out in collusion with the oppressive system by those not targeted, and acted out in reactive mistakes by those struggling for liberation. We know that people can recover fully from distress recordings and become free from any pull to act inhumanly or destructively.

Please also be sure to talk fully about United to End Racism, its goals, and its sending a delegation to the UN Conference. This is an excellent opportunity to communicate this information to people. It will make sense to have the UER printed information there, and to also have the UER pins available. Thank you for making this happen.

Tim Jackins

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

In 1995 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established to investigate crimes committed during the apartheid era in South Africa. It investigated human rights abuses that took place between1960 and 1994, based on statements made to the TRC. More than 20,000 statements were taken.

One committee of the TRC set up a process which worked to restore the victims' dignity and also made recommendations on the rehabilitation and healing of survivors, family members, and their communities.

Another committee considered whether or not to grant amnesty "to those who made full disclosure of all relevant facts relating to acts associated with a political objective committed in the course of the conflicts of the past." This applied to those who committed atrocities on both sides, and more than 7,000 applications were received from police, black militants, right-wing activists, and others. The majority (80%) of people seeking amnesty were black Africans.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was chosen by President Nelson Mandela to chair the TRC. Archbishop Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for his unrelenting quest for a non-violent end to apartheid, was the driving force behind the TRC. On his appointment as Chairperson he said:

    I hope that the work of the Commission, by opening wounds to cleanse them, will hereby stop them from festering. We cannot be facile and say bygones will be bygones, because they will not be bygones and will return to haunt us. True reconciliation is never cheap, for it is based on forgiveness which is costly. Forgiveness in turn depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not knowä

    I hope very much that people, especially those who have not previously had the opportunity of doing so, will come to the Commission to tell their stories. I would appeal to churches and NGOs to make available their resources to provide counselling to such people before, during and after they appear before the Commission.

When the TRC finished its work he said that although he was "appalled at the evil we have uncovered", it was a privilege to be part of a process of "trying to heal traumatised and wounded people."

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00