Working for peace

By Julian Wise - November 1, 2007

Marsha Winsryg's new documentary, "Waging Peace in Zambia," is a neatly bundled cinematic feat. The 12-minute chronicle of her journey to Zambia to purchase African art for a buying cooperative manages to be insightful without the preachyness that characterizes many third-world documentaries. By allowing the subjects to speak for themselves, the film achieves greater resonance and power.

This past May Ms. Winsryg and her daughter Nora Karasik traveled to Zambia to conduct business with the African Artists Community Development Program, an initiative that gains African artists access to Western customers. Along the way she visited orphanages and schools for disabled children who benefit from the trade. Ms. Karasik chronicled the trip on a camcorder borrowed from a Vineyard community television station. While the film is a first for Ms. Winsryg, she shows an intuitive touch with editing that moves the film along at a brisk, sharp pace.

What emerges from the travelogue is the phenomenal resilience and optimism of people living amidst material hardship. The women in the craft cooperative display quick wits and a strong desire for opportunities to advance their lives. In a remarkable scene, Ms. Winsryg puts on a puppet show with disabled children whose joy and energy lights up the screen. "Waging Peace" is a telling document of the indomitable nature of the human spirit and the marvels that occur when people have a chance to express their spirit and vitality.

"Waging Peace in Zambia," Saturday, Nov. 3, 6:30 pm, at the M.V. Hebrew Center, Center St., Vineyard Haven. Part of a benefit for the African Artists' Community Development Project.

Julian Wise is a contributing writer to The Times.