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Fork Films and Film Sprout partnered together to create Pray the Devil Back to Hell’s Global Peace Tour, a nine-month grassroots screening tour that culminated on the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on September 21, 2009.
From March 1 to October 31, 2009, Outreach Producer Caitlin Boyle of Film Sprout planned, prepared, and implemented a semi-theatrical distribution strategy which included coordinating all requests for prospective exhibitors; devising and implementing a pro-active outreach campaign and negotiating speaking fees related to filmmaker appearances at screening events.
Over 350 groups hosted public and community screenings spanning countries and continents, using the film as an advocacy tool to shine a light on their cause and to demonstrate the potential of peaceful conflict resolution.
PRAY screened in art house theaters, United States embassies, museums, high schools, universities, vacation resorts, public libraries, social service agencies, neighborhood and community empowerment coalitions, film festivals, cruise ships, international development organizations, film societies, yoga studios, performing arts centers, and academic conferences.
While many groups who sponsored screenings can be loosely categorized as peace-and-diplomacy-oriented, the film was hosted by a number of groups far-flung in mission and membership as the Childrenʼs Defense Fund, the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, the International Rescue Committee, the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at the United Nations Development Programme, the California Protective Parents Association, and Peace Corps volunteers from The Republic of Cape Verde to Romania.
Among faith groups, the film was screened in churches of nearly every Christian denomination –Mennonite, Methodist, Unitarian, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Quaker, Presbyterian, Nazarene, Mormon–as well as by groups identifying as Muslim, transcendental Buddhist, inter-faith, and Jewish.
The film was exhibited at least 411 times during the tour, screening in 235 American cities, 45 states, and 31 foreign countries. It reached at least 31,200 individual viewers. In September alone, at the peak of the tour, at least 172 individual screenings took place with an average of almost six screenings held somewhere in the world on each day of the month. 62% of all the screenings were free. An additional 82 screenings were scheduled for 2010.
Nearly 500 people came to watch a free screening of PRAY at the School of Visual Arts Theatre in New York City and sit in on a riveting panel discussion moderated by the renowned broadcast journalist Lynn Sherr with President Obama’s ambassador at-large for women’s issues Melanne Verveer, Women for Women International founder and CEO Zainab Salbi, and E.D. of Afghan Institute of Learning Dr. Sakena Yacoobi.
From left: Zainab Salbi, Sakena Yacoobi, Melanne Verveer, Lynn Sherr, at the SVA Theatre in NYC
Photo credit: Wicked Delicate
They discussed how to apply lessons learned from the film towards current conflicts and whether the commitment of UN Resolution 1325 has been implemented, and argued that more resources need to be directed toward enabling women around the world to engage in peace-building and development. An op-ed video of this event was produced by Wicked Delicate and narrated by Gini Reticker, and was posted on The Huffington Post’s online video section.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell Discussion produced by Wicked Delicate Films on Vimeo.
Sponsors for the showcase event included Women for Women International, Connect, The Roosevelt House, Global Fund for Women, Social Work in Progress, UNIFEM, and Peace is Loud.
“[Pray the Devil Back to Hell] got them thinking about making a move toward grassroots activism and involvement–and in going beyond simple “slacktivism”: signing on-line petitions, emailing, etc.”, she wrote. “Well done with everything: your website, your marketing, your generosity in terms of lettings us raise funds for our own organization on the tails of your documentary.”
– Jennifer Graham, Girls Education International, in Boulder, CO
“[The Ridgewood Public Library screening] last night was literally life changing, inspirational, exceptional for the sold out audience. I cannot say enough about this film and Abigail [E. Disney]. I just can't.”
– Roberta Carswell, Ridgewood Public Library, Ridgewood, NJ
Our organization [Trócaire] screened [Pray the Devil Back to Hell] in-house for staff to mark the International Day of Peace. It was a huge success, and everyone responded really well to its very powerful message. We also had an exhibition of photographs and captions of Peace Women, and Women's Peace movements, which our organisation is or has worked with and supported. Leymahʼs was among them, so the two initiatives really tied in really well together and gave great profile to the issue of women, peace and security.
– Deirdre Ní Cheallaigh, HIV and Gender Policy Officer, Trócaire, Maynooth, Ireland
[Our screening at Mercyhurst College] was well attended and well received in Erie, PA. We invited refugees through the International Institute…and in the audience were about 10-15 men from Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, and two women from Liberia–one American who worked there before the war, and one native who lost her family in the war. (It was an extremely painful reliving for her, but her American friend who brought her said she wanted to see the film.) The conversation that followed the viewing was very moving, especially when the young men thanked Mercyhurst for showing the film, confirmed that the experiences reported on were true to their own experiences, spoke of their “venerable mothers,” and expressed their longing for a means of peace in their own countries.
– Sr. Lisa Mary McCartney, RSM, Ph.D., Vice President for Mission Integration, Mercyhurst College, Erie, PA
The response to the film [at Houston Community College] was incredible. The mood of the people watching was really–I actually don't have the right words to describe–totally engaged and inspired…One student came to see me the next day and told me, “I think this film has totally changed my life. It's just opened my eyes.” That comment alone made everything worthwhile.
– Cindy Belmar, Pandoraʼs Box Film Series, Houston Community College, Houston, TX
[This is] just to say, our International Day of Peace showing of Pray the Devil Back to Hell went really well. In a tiny village of North Northumberland, [England], we had 23 people (there are only 43 in the village, 10 of whom are children), [with] some people traveling 30 miles to get there. We sang, danced, and people went away provoked, inspired, challenged, motivated.
– Penni Blythe-Jones, Center for Creative Change, Northumberland, England
Girls Career Workshop was honored to share the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell with our community at our spring fundraiser. The film was eye opening and inspiring, and truly demonstrated the power of women to change their world for the better. As well, the opportunity to hear Leymah Gwobee speak to our audience after the screening was wonderful: she is an amazing hero to all.
– Leah Ramella, Girls Career Workshop, New York, NY
Our community screening of Pray The Devil Back to Hell created such excitement that people couldn't stop talking about the film afterward. The bravery and courage of the women [and their] discipline to continue to show up and follow through all brought comments of admiration infused with inspiration from audience members. Discussion lasted for over an hour, and left everyone in attendance knowing that all women can be powerful, effective agents for change no matter how intimidating the challenge–a very important message indeed. Many thanks for making this screening possible in our community!
– Reba Vanderpool, The Visionary Edge Film Series, Half Moon Bay, CA
Human Rights USA represents survivors of the grave human rights violations that took place during the Liberian civil war. While our work in the civil case against Charles Taylor, Jr., and as amicus (or "friend of the court") in his criminal prosecution has established good law, no legal text can reach people as effectively as film. Pray the Devil Back to Hell helped our supporters better understand the reality of the Liberian civil war, share the amazing story of Leymah and her group of strong women, and experience our passion for righting the wrongs that occurred in Liberia and around the world. The film didn't just educate our audience–it inspired them.
– Piper Hendricks, World Organization for Human Rights USA, Washington, DC
We had [our] showing at the judicial cultural house in Zalau, Romania [as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign]. Two fifth grade students presented their winning projects on violence in the family, and then Pray the Devil Back to Hell was put up on the big screen! We had about 200 people come, mostly young people in high school. Several of our 16 Days campaign volunteers said Pray the Devil Back to Hell was their absolute favorite part of the campaign. One 15-year-old approached me afterwards and said she was quite moved by the film; she said she had no idea stories like this actually existed in the world. It absolutely opened her eyes. An English teacher (also partner in our campaign) said this film was great for young Romanians to see, as it is a positive example of people using the democratic system to exact [sic] change. As you know, Romania's 20-year-old democracy is still riddled with corruption and many young people are apathetic with respect to their government…Thank you again so very much for all your help. Through your film and its story, you have touched the lives of young people in Transylvania!
– Elizabeth Turk, United States Peace Corps Volunteer, Transylvania, Romania, 2008-2010