Emmy and Peabody award-winning film producer, director and writer Helen Whitney, who has been selected as the University of Findlay’s spring semester Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, will offer a free, public presentation on her film “Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate” on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Memorial Union.
Since 1971, Whitney has been a prolific creator of documentaries and feature films. Her compelling subject matter has included topics such as youth gangs, presidential candidates, the McCarthy era, mental illness, Pope John Paul II, Great Britain’s class structure, homosexuality and photographer Richard Avedon.
Throughout her career, she has maintained a deep interest in spiritual journeys, which she first explored with her film “The Monastery,” a 90-minute documentary about the oldest Trappist community in the Americas. Whitney followed this film with a three-hour Frontline documentary, “John Paul II: The Millennial Pope,” and in 2007 she produced “The Mormons,” a four-hour PBS series that explored the richness, complexities and controversies surrounding the Mormon faith. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, she produced “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero,” a two-hour documentary that examined how the religious beliefs of Americans were challenged and altered by the spiritual aftershocks of 9/11. The film has been repeated numerous times since it first aired in 2002, and it was a PBS featured presentation on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
One of Whitney’s recent films examines the power, limitations, and in rare cases, the dangers of forgiveness through emblematic stories ranging from personal betrayal to international truth and reconciliation commissions. The three-hour series, “Forgiveness: A time to Love and a Time to Hate,” aired on PBS in 2011 and it also inspired Whitney to write a book of the same title, with a forward written by the Dalai Lama.
Whitney just completed a two-hour feature documentary, “Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death.” It explores the various ways we think about death – not death in general but our own in particular. The documentary features a range of unexpected voices from various walks of life, old and young, believers and unbelievers, the dying and healthy, well-known and obscure. Each has been shocked into an awareness of their mortality. For them, death is no longer an abstraction. Each must answer the question, “How do we live with death in our eye?”
The filmmaker has also received an Academy Award nomination, the Humanitas Prize and two DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards for her work.
The national program is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges in Washington, D.C. It brings prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders and other professionals to campuses across the United States for a week-long residential program of classes, seminars, workshops, lectures and informal discussions. For more information, visit the CIC’s website at www.cic.edu/visitingfellows.
Whitney will be the University of Findlay’s seventh Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. For additional information about UF’s program, contact Marie Louden-Hanes, Ph.D., professor of art history, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-434-4504.