"I think it's wicked murder on a huge scale," the chairman of the British Parliament's group on Sudan (Hilton Dawson) once noted, "but I don't believe that it's the simple targeting of one ethnic group by another.... There's a more complex mix of races and cultures than one would assume from simply being told that this is Arabs against Africans or vice versa."
Equally poignant was the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco's screening of Memoria (shown in conjunction with the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival as part of its series about Italian Jews During Fascism). In his 1997 documentary, filmmaker Ruggero Gabbai interviewed about 90 Italians who survived the Holocaust after being sent to Auschwitz. Many of the survivors were interviewed at home in Italy, but the filmmaker also traveled back to Auschwitz with a handful of survivors to visit the former concentration camp.
On a series of cold, wintry days, the survivors take Gabbai on a tour of their barracks. Surprisingly, one person wishes she had never left Auschwitz. Why? Because the pain and nightmares that have followed her have had a devastating effect on her life.
Others recall how their departure from Italy was triggered by the lie that they were going to a new job -- and describe the jobs some of them ended up performing, as mere children, in the crematoria.
Although highly informative and deeply saddening, these films never can and never will qualify as "edutainment." However, like learning to eat your vegetables, viewing such documentaries in order to gain a greater understanding of man's inhumanity to man is supposed to be good for you.
Dismal rather than happy experiences, to be sure. But lessons worth learning, nonetheless.