Global Voices

Back in 2003 or so after Iraq got squashed Syria was being pushed as a likely candidate to take its place in the Axis of Evil. I'm not sure what their status is now since the media and current administration have stopped demonizing them for the time being, but the country's image, it's safe to say, isn't one of a progressive, tourist friendly country full of people who, surprise, are just like we are, only a little different.

That's the picture conveyed by Jean Marie Offenbacher's (she'll be at the screening for  a Q & A) documentary "Tea on the Axis of Evil," which is screening tonight at 9 p.m. as part of ongoing Global Voices Film Festival presented by the United Nations Association of Greater Boston. A buoyant travelogue with a political edge, featuring some fascinating sites and some intriguing, friendly people, it might not dispel all the myths about this ancient and vibrant country, but it does make you want to learn more. Maybe even pay a visit. Though I'm not totally convinced by the portrayal; the place at times seems like Vermont with deserts.

Well, maybe it is. Most of what I know about the world comes from the TV and movies, after all. That's why this festival is of such importance. It runs through October 11 at the Harvard Film Archive, the Harvard Kennedy School and the Brattle Theatre. Among the other films being shown are "My Neighbor, My Killer," Anne Aghion's look at the harrowing success of the Gacaca Tribunals, in which perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide confess their crimes in order to receive forgiveness from victims and survivors.

Nor is the outlook all grim. Tim Wise's "Soldiers of Peace" reports that because of the work of the title peacemakers the number of wars in the world, perhaps for the first time, is actually decreasing. Festivals like this can only encourage that process.

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