Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate
2-DVD set explores the human capacity to forgive through a compelling range of stories, from personal betrayal to global reconciliation after genocide.
Directed by Helen Whitney
Written by Helen Whitney
Edited by Ted Winterburn
Director of Photography: Paul G. Sanderson III
Narrator: Kathryn Walker
Executive Producers: Paul Dietrich and Ian Watson
WETA Executive Producers: Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson
A Production of Helen Whitney Productions, Clear View Productions Foundation and WETA Washington D.C.
This layered film by acclaimed filmmaker Helen Whitney addresses the act of forgiveness, which is a theological principle central to all major religions, but is more and more frequently leaving the church, synagogue and mosque and hitting the fractious streets. Inevitably its new role in the world raises serious and complex questions: why is forgiveness in the air today; what is its power, and what are its limitations and in some instances its dangers; has it been cheapened or deepened...or both? Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate seeks to shed insight into the light and darkness - the presence and absence - of forgiveness.
"Enter[s] into a deep conversation as to how we can all accomplish this world-changing--world-affirming task." Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The film covers a wide range of stories from personal betrayal to genocide. Among them: the spontaneous demonstration of forgiveness following the 2006 shooting of Amish children in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania; a savage and senseless attack on two young female campers; the struggle of a '60s radical to cope with the consequences of a violent act of protest that turned deadly; the shattering of a family after the mother abandons her husband and children; the penitential journey of modern Germany, coming to terms with the Holocaust; and stories of survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
This two DVD set contains two 84-minute films, plus 95 minutes of extras. You can either play the films straight through or you can access individually the 6 case studies featured in the films, plus two extra case studies not in the finished programs.
Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2011
Copyright Date: 2011
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-999-2
"This documentary, more than any that exist today, treats forgiveness as the complex phenomenon it is. It is strongest in examining the difficulties yet benefits of societal forgiveness--especially the limits of societal forgiveness where people have been grievously harmed. Forgiveness is costly, and in this movie forgiveness is always seen in context of responsibility and justice. If you are looking for a simple, feel-good, surface look at forgiving, this isn't it. If you want a thoughtful understanding, this movie will challenge you to grow."
Dr. Everett Worthington, Professor, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Author, Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Theory and Application
"Forgiveness: A Time to Love and A Time to Hate raises in both personal and global contexts central questions that are inescapable for everyone who has been made to suffer--even to suffer unspeakably--and for everyone who has caused this suffering for others...Drawing on deeply moving, engaging, and frequently graphic case studies of persons, families, communities, countries, and international relations, the film successfully plumbs some of the deepest dimensions of human experience and successfully calls forth equally deep reflection. It does this by working within and respecting plural points of view, by refusing to preach or to indoctrinate, and by calling on individuals to take ultimate responsibility for the choices they make and for the choices they refrain from making. In short, it is excellent. As you can tell, I was impressed (beyond expectations) by the film. Thorough congratulations to those who created it."
John Stuhr, Professor, Philosophy and
American Studies, Emory University, Author, Beyond Forgiveness
"This engrossing, provocative film raises significant questions about whether forgiveness is possible, who is entitled to forgive and who is entitled to forgiveness. In portraying stories from the most intimate to the most global, we are asked to grapple with our own assumptions and even prejudices - is a mother who leaves her family more in need of forgiveness than a father who does so? Can a religious community hold fast to its values only because secular law enforcement will keep the peace? Can there be a statute of limitations on repentance? This courageous and comprehensive examination of humanity's capacity for elevation and degradation provides great value for communities in both educational and religious settings to engage in reflection and soul-searching, robust and complex discussion, and authentic spiritual struggle."
Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann and Reverend Joanne Sanders, Deans for Religious Life, Stanford University
"This is a very even-handed presentation of the challenge of individual, social and political responses to serious, intentional harm, from the emotional damage inflicted by individuals upon one another all the way to the radical evil of murder and wide-spread violence. Through a thoughtful choice of commentators and a gripping set of stories, the film explores forgiveness and related processes, showing how complex they are, and that they are often impossible to achieve, and why. Forgiveness is a very good tool for the university classroom that will also be of interest to the general public."
Dr. Elizabeth A. Cole, Senior Program Officer, The United States Institute of Peace
"Forgiveness is not just some nebulous, vague idea that one can easily dismiss. Without forgiveness there is no future. To forgive is the only way to change the world permanently. This film...enter[s] into a deep conversation as to how we can all accomplish this world-changing--world-affirming task."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
"Forgiveness is difficult and complex. It can involve issues of justice and reparations and of course deep seated anger and the wish for revenge. Forgiveness is not a question of forgetting the wrong done; if you've forgotten what was done, there is nothing to forgive. Forgiveness involves refusing to allow yourself to give in to anger and the desire for revenge. This is why forgiveness ultimately brings peace...a powerful exploration of this most important subject."
His Holiness The Dalai Lama
"A useful set of case studies that are provocative and should stimulate interesting discussion. The cinematography is beautiful, providing not only a stimulating, but also very pleasing aesthetic, experience."
Frank Fincham, Eminent Scholar and Director, Family Institute, Florida State University
"Several real life studies offer road maps for those seeking to atone or offer forgiveness...In Forgiveness, Whitney travels the globe interviewing penitents and forgivers, People dealing with the aftermath of random acts of violence or war are offered as meditative examples of moving on, regardless of whether forgiveness is desired or possible."
Brittany Shoot, Sojourners Magazine
"A profoundly stirring work...The word 'powerful' does not begin to give adequate praise to this work. This is a grand enterprise treating the ethics of a series of fundamental human emotions and consequent behaviors. It skillfully balances the grim with the sanguine. With such a delicate topic, the filmmakers never once appear preachy or sensationalist. This brilliant work is strongly recommended to all who wish to stimulate discussion or even privately reflect on the place of forgiveness in the world."
Michael Coffta, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Educational Media Reviews Online
"A fair-minded, thought-provoking documentary about a complex and elusive concept. Recommended."
The Midwest Book Review
"Outstanding...Highly recommended as a teaching resource in psychology and philosophy and their various subfields."
"Helen Whitney calls 'the spiritual landscape' her filmmaking beat, and that's on stark display in Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate....Forgiveness is a complex, elusive subject and Whitney...does not shy away from difficult aspects of the topic."
"Offer[s] a rare chance to shine a clear light on the question of forgiveness in all its complexities, horror and hope...Forgiveness will not be an exercise in easy answers or cheap grace...Leaves the viewer both daunted and emboldened. The need for forgiveness is far more complex, and yet even more central to the human existence than we may have thought."
"A thought-provoking examination of both the promise and the limits of interpersonal reconciliation."
Catholic News Service
"There's really no easy generalizations about forgiveness, according to Whitney, and there is no one meaning--it is different for each person based on their own needs. For some people, it's conditional. For others, it's the height of therapy. And still, for others, it's a gift. I definitely recommend Whitney's film as one that will make you search deep inside and help you discover your own meaning of forgiveness and even think about what, if anything, is 'unforgiveable.'"
DVDs include public performance rights.
2-DVD set, each with an 84-minute program plus a combined 95 minutes of extras. Each of the six case studies in the film plus 2 extra case studies can be accessed individually. They are:
The Amish School Shooting, Nickel Mines, PA [15:32]
Savage Attack on Two Female Campers, Cline Falls, OR [23:19]
Kathy Power, 60s Radical, Wanted for Murder [31:12]
Mother Walks Out on Husband and Children [17:43]
Germany Examines Its Past [29:34]
Rwanda - Confronting Genocide [22:12]
The Lost Years - Unjustly Fired [12:19]
The Therapy Hour - Dealing with AIDS [13:00]
There are other excellent teaching resources in the bonus features including mini-case studies on the Armenian genocide, Japanese internment, Liberia and Native Americans. There are also additional interviews with, amongst others, Thane Rosenbaum, Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, Albie Sachs, Paul van Zyl and Jeff Jacoby.
Also contains SDH captions for the hard-of-hearing and scene selection.
Awards and Festivals
National Broadcast on PBS
Western Psychological Association Film Festival
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From The Ground Up
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Should General Butt Naked (née Joshua Blahyi) - now a Christian pastor - be forgiven for his role in Liberia's horrific civil war?
In The Wake of War
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Where Truth Lies
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The Dilemma Of The White Ant
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Forgive Us Our Debts
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The Dhamma Brothers
An overcrowded maximum-security prison is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient meditation program.
God Among the Children
Community organization works with at-risk youth in Boston.
... more Reviews
"There is a fascinating abundance of introspection and eloquence in Forgiveness, but no easy or cheap answers...Captivating, devoid of all the cheap nonsense we have grown accustomed to."
"Mesmeric...An intelligent, stimulating treatment of a social change that affects everyone, either on a personal level or as a citizen of Planet Earth."
"I thought it was going to be one of those boring religious treatises...It isn't that at all, but it is. It's that and much more, raising questions rather than providing answers, driving to the core of human morality in the area of personal and national failures, and calling on us to decide whether atonement is a valid response to horror."
Al Martinez, Daily News Los Angeles
"Forgiveness explores a virtue fraught with hope and danger...The stunning genius of this rich and poignant documentary is its careful probing, through narratives, of the limits, possibilities and reality of forgiveness...I will watch and re-watch this thoughtful and deep documentary, which raises new questions about a primordial human ache."
America, The National Catholic Weekly
"Deeply emotional in that it inevitably connects with anyone and everyone on some kind of level...Will no doubt leave you a little shaken...A Highly Recommended documentary as you really won't see anything else quite like it."
The World's Finest DVD Report