SPRINGFIELD – The University of Illinois at Springfield series Political Art and the Public Sphere will present a screening of the film The Forest for the Trees at 6 p.m. Monday, October 15, in Brookens Auditorium, lower level of Brookens Library on the UIS campus. Both the film and the discussion session that follows are free and open to the public.
Hailed as a "powerful and elegant documentary, beautifully done," The Forest for the Trees is an intimate look at a group of young activists and old civil rights workers who come together to battle the U.S. government in an effort to clear the name of Earth First! activist Judi Bari.
Bari was the principal organizer of campaigns against logging in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California, as well as efforts to bring timber workers and environmentalists together in common cause. In 1990, she was severely injured when a pipe bomb exploded under her car as she and fellow Earth First! member Darryl Cherney were on an organizing tour for a campaign of nonviolent protests. Within hours of the bombing, Bari and Cherney were arrested as terrorists. They subsequently filed a federal civil rights suit claiming that the FBI attempted to frame them in a ploy to discredit Earth First!
Bari died of breast cancer in 1997; however five years later a jury exonerated her and Cherney and ordered four FBI agents and three Oakland police officers to pay a total of $4.4 million to Cherney and to Bari's estate. PAPS series facilitator Richard Gilman-Opalsky, UIS assistant professor of Political Philosophy notes, "This is a piece of U.S. history that grows increasingly resonant as the line between dissent and terrorism is blurred."
Each month, Political Art and the Public Sphere features a showing or performance of some kind of "political art."
"The basic idea is to consider how 'art' raises provocative social and political questions," Gilman-Opalsky said. "Programs are selected in order to generate discussion about enduring questions in political philosophy.
"Public spheres are the places where people come together to communicate, to evaluate, and to circulate ideas and arguments," he added. "In the public sphere, people form a collective political opinion and will. Ultimately and ideally, the public sphere brings the interests and demands of the public to bear on those who hold power."
For more information about this program or the PAPS series, contact Gilman-Opalsky by phone at 206-8328 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.