A FORCE MORE POWERFUL
A CENTURY OF NONVIOLENT CONFLICT
Two-Part Documentary Explores
The Triumph of Nonviolent Power
Throughout the World in the 20th Century
Ben Kingsley Narrates Series
A FORCE MORE POWERFUL: A CENTURY OF NONVIOLENT CONFLICT, a riveting three-hour documentary tells one of humanity’s most important and least understood stories – how, during a century of extreme violence, millions chose to battle brutality and oppression with nonviolent weapons – and won.
A FORCE MORE POWERFUL is written, produced and directed by Steve York of York Zimmerman Inc.. Peter Ackerman, noted authority on nonviolent strategy and the co-author of Strategic Nonviolent Conflict (1994), is series editor and principal content advisor. Distinguished actor Ben Kingsley, who won an Academy Award for his film portrayal of Mohandas Gandhi, narrates the documentary.
A FORCE MORE POWERFUL expands significantly on the producing team’s award-winning, critically acclaimed feature-length documentary film, A Force More Powerful, which was released to select theaters in New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles in 1999. Hailed as “outstanding” by the Los Angeles Times, it has been shown at film festivals in London, Houston, Seattle and other cities.
The series is the centerpiece of a global media and educational project intended to elevate the world’s understanding of how nonviolent action can succeed in overturning dictators and securing democracy and human rights. St. Martin’s Press published a companion book of the same name by Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall. The book has been described by Sen. John McCain as “well-written, moving... I recommend it to anyone who believes that power only flows from the barrel of a gun.”
A FORCE MORE POWERFUL uses stunning archival footage to present six stories of successful nonviolent movements around the world. Each includes interviews with witnesses, survivors and unsung heroes who contributed to these century-changing events. The stories include:
The 1960 Nashville, Tennessee campaign to desegregate the city’s downtown business district, which was emblematic of the American civil rights movement. It profiles the Rev. James Lawson Jr., who studied Gandhi’s techniques in Nagpur, India and later joined forces with Martin Luther King Jr. to become a principal architect of the African-American struggle. His intensive training workshops for college students on the techniques of nonviolent resistance drove the success of the Nashville sit-ins and boycott, and became what King called “the model of the movement.”
Mohandas Gandhi’s famous Salt March of 1930, during which he enjoined Indians to protest the British salt monopoly – a turning point in the movement that paved the way for India’s independence from Britain. Gandhi, the most influential figure in the history of nonviolent resistance, steered a shrewdly strategic, ever-escalating course of “noncooperation” that included mass demonstrations, strikes, and the boycott of British goods.
The consumer boycott campaign against apartheid in the black townships of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa in the mid 1980s, led by the young activist Mkhuseli Jack. Radicalized at the age of 18 by laws that kept him from enrolling in school, Jack founded the influential Port Elizabeth Youth Congress and became a key leader of strikes, boycotts, and other grassroots efforts, which reverberated throughout the country and were instrumental in defeating apartheid and freeing Nelson Mandela.
The courage and endurance of Denmark’s citizens during the five-year Nazi occupation of World War II. Their noncooperation undermined the Germans’ attempt to exploit Denmark for food and war materiel. In addition to committing sabotage and staging general strikes, the Danes’ underground resistance rescued all but a few hundred of Denmark’s seven thousand Jews from the Holocaust.
The 1980 Gdansk Shipyard strike that won Poles the right to have free trade unions, launched the Solidarity movement and catapulted Lech Walesa, a shipyard electrician, on a path of leadership that eventually gave him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 – and led to the fall of communism in Poland and the election of Walesa to the presidency of the country.
The national protest days led by Chilean copper miners in 1983, which overcame a decade of paralyzing fear, showed that public opposition to the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet was possible, and signaled the start of a nonviolent democratic opposition. Brutally repressed, opposition forces persisted and eventually removed Pinochet’s military government in a 1988 referendum..
“Although it is indebted to the many leaders of these movements, history shows that strategy and discipline determine a campaign’s success,” says filmmaker Steve York. “The stories that comprise A FORCE MORE POWERFUL demonstrate how nonviolent conflict is enacted through well-planned campaigns.”
“The greatest misconception about conflict in our century is that violence is always the ultimate form of power,” says Peter Ackerman, the series editor and principal content advisor. “But Indians, Danes, Poles, South Africans, Chileans, African-Americans, and many others have proven that to be wrong.”
“The ability to produce enormous change without violence shouldn’t come as a surprise,” observes York. “We see nonviolent change occurring every day – through political diplomacy, popular culture, and advertising. What makes strategic nonviolent action so compelling, and so important, is that it cannot only induce change; it can do so in the face of violent opposition. It’s happened many times before. It can happen again.”
A FORCE MORE POWERFUL was written, produced and directed by Steve York. The supervising film editor is Joseph Wiedenmayer. Managing producer is Miriam Zimmerman. Series editor and principal content advisor is Peter Ackerman. Jack DuVall is executive producer. Initial research funding was provided by the United States Institute of Peace. Major funding was provided by Susan and Perry Lerner. Additional funding was provided by The Albert Einstein Institution, Elizabeth and John H. van Merkensteijn, III, Abby and Alan Levy, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.