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League of Women Voters to host screenings of ‘Undivide Us’ ahead of June primary elections

Film explores how Americans can unite despite political differences
“Undivide Us,” a documentary film by filmmaker Kristi Kendall, explores the political divide and how Americans can reach one another despite their differences. The League of Women Voters of La Plata County is hosting a screening of the film in Durango on June 25 and in Bayfield in July. (Courtesy of Undivide Us Movie Screenings)

The League of Women Voters of La Plata County and Montezuma County will host a screening of “Undivide Us,” a documentary film about bridging the political divide.

in Durango, the screening is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. June 25 at the Durango Public Library.The La Plata County chapter will host another screening in Bayfield in July.

The LWV Montezuma County chapter is hosting screenings at the same time in Mancos, Cortez and Dolores.

The screening occurs on the eve of the Colorado primary elections, a fitting time to watch the film, which was released last year and is all about navigating the discord and toxicity of contemporary American politics.

Laurie Meininger, LWVLPC president of the board of directors, said “the film leaves viewers with tools for engaging with friends, family and neighbors in ways to overcome our biases and restore civility in this political season.”

Kristi Kendall, director of the film, said it features regular American voters in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Phoenix who disagree wholeheartedly with one another on important issues such as abortion, guns, policing and immigration, but come to respect and understand each other.

“I try to do projects that are going to make the world better for my kids and for all of our kids to grow up into,” she said. “And when I saw the state of political discourse … I was feeling really bad about what the world might look like for my kids.”

Kristi Kendall

Kendall said she drew inspiration from “I Citizen: A Blueprint for Reclaiming American Self-Governance,” a book by author Tony Woodlief that questions the “narrative of division” pushed by politicians and the media, and argues it isn’t reflective of the American populace as a whole.

“What would it look like if we wanted to show Americans that they could have conversations without killing each other?” she said.

She said what she found was “incredible.”

There are no outtakes of interviewees fighting or shouting each other down. Instead, what the filmmaker captured was a hunger for discourse. She said the people featured in the documentary, who had legitimate disagreements about important issues, wanted to engage the other side thoughtfully.

When filming ended, the people still wanted to continue their conversations. The film showcases “how hungry Americans are to have thoughtful, respectful conversations about the things that they care about most,” she said.

Two people in the film hold opposite views on guns and gun restrictions, but were able to hold a dialogue and actually became friends, despite their differences.

“They actually invited each other to each other's weddings,” Kendall said.

The film also demonstrates ways to hold a productive conversation about a divisive issue. She said people should seek to understand one another instead of just trying to be understood.

“You don't have to move your opinion in order to shift how you feel about the people on the other side,” she said. “The big less is just try to put yourself in someone else's shoes before you judge.”

Kendall said nobody featured in the film actually changed their stance on a given political issue, which shows people are set in what they believe and why they believe it. Still, they wanted to continue conversations with the other side.

“Undivide Us,” a documentary film by filmmaker Kristi Kendall, explores the political divide and how Americans can reach one another despite their differences. The League of Women Voters of La Plata County is hosting a screening of the film in Durango on June 25 and in Bayfield in July. (Courtesy of Undivide Us Movie Screenings)

“It just gave me a tremendous amount of hope for our country,” she said. “Because if we feel this way, if we feel better when we step into these spaces and engage, it can be a virtuous cycle of positivity. … I think we are the thing that can save this country.”

Following the June 25 screening in Durango, LWVLPC will hold a discussion about the film and its ideas “to further bring the community together,” Meininger said.

She said the discussion is not meant to change anyone’s mind on any given issue. Rather, it’s meant to help attendees “practice listening for understanding to strengthen our community in a nonpartisan way.”

cburney@durangoherald.com



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