Most film festivals carry the name of the city in which they are located. So why are we, here in Claremont, calling ourselves “The Common Good International Film Festival”? And why are we “celebrating the wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead”? Here’s the answer. The initial idea for this festival came in 2001 from a group of people influenced by the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Whitehead was a mathematician turned physicist turned philosopher in the first half of the 20th century. His queries into the “how” of this world led him to develop a vision in which all things that exist are interdependent. We live in and through our relationships with one another. Because of this, we are ultimately responsible for one another. Therefore, we are personally and communally responsible for The Common Good.
“How can we, as Whiteheadians, foster a deeper awareness of our responsibility for the common good?” This was first the question this group asked. One of the answers was this film festival. Films are the common language of people around the world; we share our cultures through film; we share our perceptions of what it is to be human, our trials and our transformations. Through film, the ‘strangeness’ of other cultures can turn into appreciation and understanding. And through appreciating and understanding one another, we exercise care for one another, doing what we can to seek and promote the common good.
Our Selection Criteria
From these conversations, we decided upon five criteria for submissions to the Common Good Film Festival. They are:
- The film shall exhibit artistic excellence in screenplay, music, and filming technique.
- The film shall promote the common good, which is defined as a society in which persons and communities care for one another’s well-being.
- The film shall exhibit sensitivity to the human situation, promoting the dignity of all.
- As appropriate to the film’s subject matter, the film shall foster ecological responsibility.
- The film shall cultivate a realistic hope of creative transformation.
And so we select films of artistic excellence that fulfill each of these criteria. Each film speaks of human dignity, of our responsibilities to one another, of problems common to us all, and of the hope of creative transformation in our very togetherness.
Whiteheadian philosophy provides a worldview that fosters social and personal responsibility to one another and to the earth that sustains us. And so do the films we select each year. Thus, we are the Common Good International Film Festival, celebrating the wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead. And the little owl figure with the top hat? Why, that’s Owlfred, of course!
Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki
Founder, Common Good Film Festival