Log In

Reset Password

Colorado’s first mom ‘bridging divides’

Nydia Gonzalez dances to “La Bamba” in “Bridging Divides: Sharing Heartbearts.” (IronZeal Films)
Susan Polis Schutz’s documentary to air Wednesday on PBS WORLD

The world can be an overwhelming place, seemingly full of people who are either out only for themselves or willing to inflict pain on others for any number of reasons.

Documentary filmmaker Susan Polis Schutz knew there had to be more, so she set out to find groups that are exemplifying the best in people. What Schutz, who is also a writer, poet, committed feminist – and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ mother – found was that there are people around the globe who might not ordinarily interact with each other meeting up to sing, play sports and get to know each other.

Susan Polis Schutz (Courtesy)

Schutz’s new film, “Bridging Divides: Sharing Heartbeats,” will have its national broadcast premiere Wednesday night on Rocky Mountain PBS DT 4 World. It’s also streaming on pbs.org.

In the film, she features six groups: Fandango Fronterizo; PeacePlayers in Northern Ireland; The Jerusalem Youth Chorus; Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom; Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska; and United Voices Chicago. Each group works to bring people of different faiths, ethnicities, religions and more together to realize that people are just, well, people. And despite perceived differences, friendships and greater understanding can be formed.

Schutz said the idea of the film came to her in a couple of different ways.

“I’ve been so upset about all the divisiveness and hatred, and that was swirling around in my mind, probably like everybody else,” she said. “I read an article about Fandango Fronterizo and ... they were just so outstanding. I decided to just do some research about them and learn about them. And then I met Jorge (Castillo), who started the organization, and I interviewed them, not quite knowing why, but I interviewed them. And it was so uplifting.”

After the initial interviews, she said she decided to make a film with the group and any other groups like it she could find, which led to the six in “Bridging Divides.” There are numerous other groups around the world also bringing people together, Schutz said.

The film took about two years to make, and she said that from her work, she learned that while people can get a lot out of talking about differences and similarities in groups, the addition of activities – like the PeacePlayers in Northern Ireland who use basketball as a way to connect kids from Catholic and Protestant backgrounds – can go a long way to bridging what divides people.

Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom members Clarie and Shereen hug in “Bridging Divides: Sharing Heartbeats.” (IronZeal Films)

“When I was finished with the documentary, I was thinking, I want to live in a world like the one that these groups are building,” Schutz said. “I want to inspire people to even form their own groups. Go out and meet people that are different than them, talk to them, interact with them.

“I also wanted to bring attention to the important work that these six organizations are doing,” she said. “I want to motivate people to seek ways of bridging divides.”


Reader Comments