For the third year, Comcast will offer a slate of programming from USC Shoah Foundation. The broadcast, called PastFORWARD, is available to all Comcast subscribers via its X1 smart TV app and OnDemand set-top box. It is presented in partnership with Independence Blue Cross.
The theme of this year’s broadcast is “The Will to Resist” and is live now through November 10, 2016.
Humanity shows tremendous ability to resist in the face of oppression, from extraordinary acts of heroism to a whispered prayer to a forbidden god. Stories of genocide around the world demonstrate that in the face of tyranny, to exist is the mightiest resistance of all. From a small-town mayor protecting lives in Rwanda to two young Europeans finding love through the ruthless machinery of concentration camps, these stories of defiance echo across time to resonate with audiences today, educating and inspiring them to tap into their own will to resist.
The feature film of the broadcast is Defiance (2008), starring Liev Schreiber and Daniel Craig. The film tells the true story of the Bielski brothers, who escaped the slaughter of Jews in Eastern Europe to live in the forest and began to turn their daily struggle for survival into a battle against the Nazis. As news of their exploits spread, others joined the fray, willing to risk their lives for even brief freedom.
The broadcast’s documentary feature is Watchers of the Sky (2014). Based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning book A Problem from Hell, Watchers of the Sky follows the journey of lawyer Raphael Lemkin and his efforts to coin the word “Genocide” and initiate the Genocide convention.
“We are most appreciative of our partnership with Comcast and Independence Blue Cross,” said Steve Cozen, Board Chair of USC Shoah Foundation. “Because of their ongoing support we are able to reach a broad range of viewers throughout the country who are able to learn lessons of tolerance and respect through the eyewitness accounts.”
PastFORWARD also includes several short videos produced by USC Shoah Foundation about people who exemplify the themes of resistance and defiance.
“The Mayor” tells the story of Jean-Marie Vianney Gisagara, who was only 27 years old when he became mayor of Nyanza, Rwanda. When Rwanda's president was killed and the new government issued a kill order on all those of Tutsi heritage, Gisagara actively resisted the command, making himself a target. Witnesses recall his story via a tour of the town he so courageously defended.
“Grace & Vanessa” is the remarkable story of Grace Uwamahoro. She was 10 years during the genocide in Rwanda, yet she made a life-changing decision to save an infant destined to become a victim of genocide. Told in Grace's own words 20 years later, this story is a testament to love in the face of deadly consequences.
A video called “Generation Peace” shares the efforts of USC Shoah Foundation and Aegis Trust to teach Rwandan students today about the consequences of genocide and the importance of peacebuilding through survivor testimony.
As part of PastFORWARD, Comcast subscribers will also be able to watch 11 full-length testimonies from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive: Cham Engel, Saartje Engel, Lillian Bielsky-Bell, Joseph Greenblatt, Anna Heilman, Paul Strassman, Benjamin Meed, Brian Bergman, Eugene Kanyandekwe, Jean Berchimas Mudederi and Lemyel Amirian. These survivors, from the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide and Rwandan Genocide, all demonstrated resistance in their fight for survival.
Finally, the broadcast includes “The Story of the USC Shoah Foundation,” a brief introduction to the history and mission of the Institute, and “The USC Shoah Foundation Anthem,” a thirty-second anthem that serves as a call to action for audiences to overcome the darkness in the world through the power of the human story.