“WOMEN, WAR & PEACE”

Documentarian Abigail Disney discusses the groundbreaking new edition of the PBS series, “Women, War & Peace II.”

For more information, click here. 

Aired on March 25, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS YEAR HAS BEEN DEEMED THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN, AND IT'S SHAPING UP TO BE JUST THAT.

WE HAVE SEEN WOMEN MOBILIZED, MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD IN THEIR COMMUNITIES, ON CAPITOL HILL, AROUND THE WORLD.

THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED DOCUSERIES, 'WOMEN, WAR AND PEACE' RETURNS FOR A SECOND INSTALLMENT ON PBS TO TELL FOUR STORIES OF WOMEN WHO HAVE RISKED THEIR LIVES FOR PEACE.

TAKE A LOOK.

WHAT I WANT NOW IS FREEDOM.

WE'VE BEEN FIGHTING FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS SPECIFICALLY.

A BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES.

WE'RE IMPROVING BACK HOME.

WE CAN SERVE PUBLIC.

WE WANT THE LIBERTY.

JOINING ME NOW, ONE OF THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS OF THE DOCUSERIES, 'WOMEN, WAR AND PEACE 2' ALONG WITH BEING A FAVORITE 'METROFOCUS' GUEST AND ONE OF MY GOOD FRIENDS, ABIGAIL DISNEY, ABBIE.

GOOD TO BE HERE.

LET ME LOOK BACK AT THE FIRST VERSION, IF WE CAN.

WHAT HAS THE DIFFERENCE BEEN IN TERMS OF GETTING IT DONE AND HOW IT'S BEEN RECEIVED?

YEAH.

FIRST ONE, SECOND ONE?

IT'S HEADWIND, TAILWIND.

THAT'S REALLY THE DIFFERENCE IS NIGHT AND DAY, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THE FIRST TIME AROUND, WE HAD TROUBLE FINDING FOOTAGE OF PEOPLE BECAUSE WHEN THE WAR CORRESPONDENTS WILL GO OUT THERE, THEY JUST DIDN'T EVEN SEE THE WOMEN, UNLESS THEY WERE SORT OF IN THE CROSSFIRE OR VICTIMIZED SOMEHOW.

BUT IF THEY WERE ACTUALLY STANDING UP SAYING IT'S TIME TO END THE WAR, TRYING TO GET INVOLVED WITH PEACE TALKS, NOBODY CARED.

WE'RE INVISIBLE.

SO THAT'S A DIFFERENCE.

THE U.N. HAS GOTTEN ON BOARD.

THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT HAS GOTTEN ON BOARD WITH THE IDEA THAT THEY CAN'T BUILD PEACE WITHOUT WOMEN.

THEY JUST CAN'T.

AND SO THAT'S BEEN A PROFOUND DIFFERENCE.

AND THEN GETTING IT MADE, THE NUMBER OF FILMMAKERS WE COULD DRAW UPON HAS PROLIFERATED, JUST IN THE EIGHT YEARS, THE NUMBER OF WOMEN WHO ARE INTERESTED IN MAKING THIS KIND OF FILM HAS EXPANDED.

AND ARE BEING ALLOWED TO MAKE FILMS.

EXACTLY.

SAYING I'LL FUND YOU.

EXACTLY, EXACTLY.

AND REALLY, AND GETTING IT ON THE AIR, IT'S SO MUCH ENTHUSIASM BEHIND IT THIS TIME.

I'M A LITTLE IN SHOCK, PERSONALLY.

AND THAT'S GOOD SHOCK.

YEAH.

TO HAVE.

HAPPY SHOCK.

SO LET'S TALK ABOUT THE THEMES OF THESE STORIES.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THEM?

YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU LOOK FROM 30,000 FEET, IT'S ASTOUNDING WHAT THE PARALLELS ARE FROM PLACE TO PLACE.

I MEAN, WHAT YOU SEE IN EVERY CASE IS WOMEN WHO CHOOSE TO STEP INTO A SCENE, A POLITICAL SCENE OR A WAR SCENE THAT ISN'T SEEN AS THEIRS.

AND SO WHAT IS THE FIRST THING THEY HAVE TO DO GET TAKEN SERIOUSLY, AND THEN THEY NEED TO STAY IN AGAINST ALL ODDS.

SO THAT HAPPENS IN EVERY FILM ACROSS ALL NINE FILMS.

EACH OF THEM HAVE THEIR OWN NUANCES, BECAUSE ONCE YOU GET DOWN TO 5,000 FEET YOU START TO SEE THAT CAIRO, THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL ASSAULT ISSUE WAS DEBILITATING TO THE WOMEN, AND THAT THEIR OWN ALLIES IN THE MOVEMENT DIDN'T STAND UP FOR THEM I THINK WAS REALLY THE END OF THE MOVEMENT.

THERE IS A TERRIBLE RESULTS IN TAHIR SQUARE I THINK BECAUSE THEY WERE FRACTURED ON GENDER LINES.

THE BANGLADESHI WOMEN NEED TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AT HOME BY THEIR SPOUSES, BY THEIR PEERS, BY OTHER PEOPLE IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.

AND THEIR DEPLOYMENT IS ACTUALLY SOMEWHAT SUCCESSFUL IN THAT.

AND THEY SEE THEMSELVES ALSO AS STANDING AS AN EXAMPLE FOR ASIAN WOMEN WHEN THEY'RE DEPLOYED THERE WHICH IS KIND OF WONDERFUL, AND THEY COME HOME REALLY PROUD.

IN PALESTINE, YOU KNOW, THAT WAS A NON -- THE FIRST INTIFADA WAS A NONVIOLENT INTIFADA.

AND THEY STEPPED INTO A NEGATIVE SPACE.

THEY STEPPED INTO A VACUUM, BECAUSE MOST OF THE MEN HAD BEEN EITHER IMPRISONED OR SENT OUT OF THE COUNTRY.

SO THEY WERE REALLY STEPPING INTO A VACUUM.

AND WHAT THEY DID IN THE VACUUM WHAT WAS NATURAL TO THEM, WHICH WAS ORGANIZE AND CREATE LIKE ECONOMIC RESISTANCE AND RALLIES AND QUIET THINGS THAT WERE ESSENTIALLY A NONVIOLENT MOVEMENT.

EVEN WHAT WE WERE GETTING BACK HERE ALL THROUGHOUT WAS ROCK THROWING YOUTHS AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

SO WHEN THE MEN WENT TO OSLO, THE WOMEN WEREN'T INVITED TO OSLO, AND --

AND YET HAD BEEN ENORMOUSLY INSTRUMENTAL IN GETTING EVERYBODY TO THE TABLE.

AND TURNED TO VIOLENCE VERY QUICKLY AFTER THE MEN RETURNED.

AND THEN NORTHERN IRELAND.

I LOVE THESE WOMEN IN NORTHERN IRELAND.

THEY ARE REALLY GREAT.

AND NOBODY WANTED THEM.

ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING THINGS TO ME IS THAT WHEN THE WOMEN SPOKE, THE MEN ON BOTH SIDES WOULD MOO LIKE COWS, MOO.

AND THESE ARE MEN WHO COULDN'T AGREE ON WHAT TO HAVE FOR BREAKFAST.

BUT THEY'RE AGREEING LET'S NOT LISTEN TO OUR WOMEN.

EXACTLY.

THAT WAS UNANIMITY THERE, THAT WAS THE ISSUE.

IT WAS KIND OF THE SAME AND ALWAYS A LITTLE DIFFERENT, AND THAT'S ONE OF THE FUN PARTS OF WATCHING THESE THINGS TOGETHER.

TALK ABOUT HOW YOU GATHERED UP THESE FILMS?

BECAUSE AS YOU SAID NOW AS OPPOSED TO WHEN YOU FIRST DID THIS A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, NOW MORE FEMALE FILMMAKERS TELLING MORE.

RIGHT.

WOMEN'S STORIES.

RIGHT.

NOR OPPORTUNITY FOR THEM TO DO IT.

MY SUSPICION IS YOU HAD MORE CHOICES, CHOICES ARE OFTENTIMES VERY GOOD BUT CAN ALSO BE VERY DIFFICULT.

IT'S SORT OF THE GOOD NEWS AND THE BAD NEWS.

I'VE GOT GREAT CHOICES NOW.

HOW AM I GOING TO PICK?

OUR PROCESS THIS TIME IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

THE FIRST TIME, YOU KNOW, WE DID A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF RESEARCH, AND WE HAD STORIES THAT WE NARROWED DOWN.

STORIES AREN'T THE PROBLEM.

AND THEN WE, YOU KNOW, HIRED FILMMAKERS AND SENT THEM OUT.

WE MADE THOSE FILMS FROM ZERO.

IN THE CASE OF NILA, THE FILM ABOUT THE INTIFADA, THAT WAS A FILM THAT WAS UNDER WAY, AND WE KNEW THE FILMMAKER AND WE KNEW SHE WAS DOING IT, AND WE KNEW THIS WOULD WORK.

SO WE -- WHILE IT WAS BEING MADE, WE PULLED HER INTO OUR PROCESS.

THE NORTHERN IRELAND FILM, I HAD WANTED TO MAKE THAT FILM FOR SO LONG.

I HAVE A SOFT SPOT IN MY HEART FOR IRELAND.

ALL OF US WHO ARE IRISH.

EXACTLY.

LOOK AT THAT AND THINK HOW CAN WE SAVE THIS.

AND WE COULD NOT LET THAT STORY GO, BECAUSE IT'S REALLY SO GOOD.

IT'S REALLY SO GOOD.

WE FOUND A FILMMAKER IN IRELAND, AND WE WORKED WITH THE NORTHERN IRISH BROADCASTER THERE AND CO-PRODUCED THAT.

SO EVERYTHING IS A DIFFERENT STORY, BUT THERE WERE SORT OF -- IT WAS MUCH EASIER TO EITHER PULL SOMEONE ELSE'S PROCESS INTO OURS, OR PULL OUR PROCESS INTO SOMEBODY ELSE'S.

IT WAS MUCH MORE STREAMLINE AND LESS EXPENSIVE BY A LONG WAY.

IN TERMS OF EACH OF THESE STORIES, AND YOU MENTIONED COMMON THREADS THAT ARE WOVEN THROUGH ALL THIS.

AND I DON'T WANT TO GIVE AWAY ALL OF THEM, BECAUSE I WANT PEOPLE TO WATCH THEM.

THEY SHOULD WATCH THEM.

THEY ARE COMPELLING.

THEY'RE THOUGHTFUL.

THEY'RE PROVOCATIVE, WHICH THEY ARE INTENDED TO BE, AND THEY'RE GREAT STORYTELLING.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THEM, WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST DO YOU THINK ABOUT THESE VARIOUS STORIES THAT YOU TOLD?

YOU KNOW, I DON'T GET SURPRISED MUCH THE WAY I USED TO, BECAUSE EVERYWHERE I GO, THERE IS A STORY LIKE THIS.

EVERYWHERE I GO.

WHAT SURPRISES ME IS THE WAY I HAVE TO KEEP TELLING IT TO PEOPLE AGAIN AND AGAIN, BECAUSE IT'S ALMOST LIKE THIS -- EVERYBODY'S GOT A WATERPROOFING ON THEM AND THEY JUST CAN'T LET THE STORIES IN.

SO IT GETS FORGOTTEN.

AND IT IS JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE POPULATED BY WOMEN?

IS IT THAT SIMPLE, DO YOU THINK THAT THE STORIES DON'T GET EMBRACED?

THING IS A LANGUAGE OF MATTERING, RIGHT?

AND IT'S ABOUT WHO HAS A CERTAIN ACCENT AND WHO WAS EDUCATED WHERE AND WHO DRESSES A CERTAIN WAY.

AND THAT LANGUAGE OF MATTERING REALLY MATTERS IN THE PEACE TALKS.

AND THE FIRST THING IN A PEACE TALK IS THE GUN.

AND THEN THE SECOND THING ALMOST IMMEDIATELY THAT PEOPLE -- THAT IS AN INDICATOR IS GENDER.

AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS SHAKE GENDER LOOSE FROM THAT CATEGORIZATION.

WE NEED TO GET IT TO STOP MATTERING IN TERMS OF WHETHER OR NOT YOUR VOICE HAS ANY AUTHORITY.

OF COURSE THE GUY WITH THE GUN IS THERE, BECAUSE WE NEED TO STOP SHOOTING.

THAT'S THE FUNDAMENTAL FIRST PRINCIPLE OF THE PEACE TALK.

BUT BEYOND THAT, TO ASK HIM TO CONSTRUCT THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH PEACE IS MADE, IT'S RIDICULOUS TO EVEN THINK THAT THE GUY WHO PICKED UP THE AK-47 IS GOING TO BE AUTHORITY ON HOW WATER GETS DELIVERED TO A COMMUNITY, WHICH IS AFTER ALL THE FIRST CAUSE TO BEGIN WITH.

YOU HEAR OFTENTIMES AND NOT JUST WOMEN SAYING YOU KNOW WHAT?

THROUGHOUT HISTORY, IF WOMEN WERE IN CHARGE, FAR LESS WARS, FAMINES, DISASTER.

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH.

AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU, COME AWAY LOOKING AT THIS, THAT MAY WELL BE EXACTLY RIGHT.

THAT'S ANOTHER BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIRST TIME AND NOW IS PEOPLE WERE NOT SAYING THAT THEN.

NOBODY WAS SAYING THAT THEN.

AND IT HAS SHIFTED SO QUICKLY THAT TO HEAR MEN SAYING THAT NOW IS JUST -- I ALMOST HAVE TO RUB MY EYES TO MAKE SURE I'M AWAKE, BECAUSE I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M HEARING THIS OUT OF MEN'S MOUTHS AND OUT OF ANYBODY'S MOUTHS.

YOU KNOW, THE THING TO REMEMBER IS NOBODY'S PROCLAIMING THAT WOMEN ARE PERFECT OR BETTER.

THAT IS A REALLY IMPORTANT THING TO SAY BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, AND WE ALL KNOW THE MARGARET THATCHERS AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE WOMEN WHO SCRAMBLED TO THE TOP OF THESE SYSTEMS AND ARE JUST AS BAD OR WORSE THAN DICTATORS.

SO THAT'S NOT THE ASSERTION HERE.

THE ASSERTION IS THAT WOMEN, WHAT THEY DO IN THEIR LIVES IN ALMOST EVERY CULTURE IN THE WORLD IS FEEDING, HOUSING, CLOTHING, EDUCATING, TAKING CARE OF THE SICK, TAKING CARE OF THE DEAD.

YOU KNOW, IF YOU WERE TO PUT A BUNCH OF ACTIVITIES TOGETHER AND GIVE THEM A NAME, IT WOULD BE PEACE, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE PEACE IS THE NECESSARY PRECONDITIONS TO SUCCEEDING AT ALL THE THINGS WOMEN ARE ASKED TO DO IN EVERY CULTURE IN EVERY WORLD.

THEY HAVE HISTORICALLY.

THE SUBSTANCE OF OUR LIVES OVER THE COURSE OF ALL OF OUR LIVES, WHAT WE KNOW IS PEACE.

AND SO, YES, THERE IS -- AND I WOULD ALSO SAY THAT LIKE I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S BIOLOGY, AND I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S THE Y CHRO CHROMOSOME, I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS, BUT THERE IS NO MORE GENDERED ACTIVITY THAN WAR.

THERE JUST ISN'T.

I CAN EXPAND THAT TO SAY VIOLENCE.

THERE IS A PREDISPOSITION OR TENDENCY, WHO KNOWS.

BUT THE COROLLARY TO THAT IS THERE IS A GENDERED ELEMENT TO PEACE.

AND SO WE IGNORE IT AT OUR PERIL.

HOPEFULLY THESE STORIES WILL MAKE US PAY MORE ATTENTION TO IT.

AS I SAID, THEY'RE THOUGHT PROVOKING.

AND I THINK WHAT IS THE SIGNATURE OF GREAT FILMMAKING IT IS MAKES YOU THINK, WHICH IS I KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.

ABBIE, ALWAYS GOOD TO SEE YOU.

THANK YOU.

FABULOUS WORK AS ALWAYS.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO GETTING YOU BACK.

THANKS.

YOU BE WELL.

THANKS.

AND OUR REMINDER FOR YOU, FOLKS, 'WOMEN, WAR AND PEACE 2' PREMIERES MONDAY, MARCH 25.

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