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'Forgiveness' two-part special to air on AETN April 17, 24

Posted 07 Apr 2011

“Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate,” a film in which acclaimed writer, producer and director Helen Whitney explores the timely applications and limitations of the concept and practice of forgiveness through a compelling range of stories, will air on the Arkansas PBS (AETN) in two 90-minute parts on Sundays, April 17 and 24, at 10 each night.

“Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate” provides an intimate look into the spontaneous outpouring of forgiveness: from the Amish families for the 2006 shooting of their children in Nickel Mines, Pa.; the struggle of ’60s radicals to cope with the serious consequences of their violent acts of protest; the shattering of a family after the mother abandons them, only to return seeking forgiveness; the legacy and divisiveness of apartheid and the aftermath of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in South Africa; the penitential journey of a modern-day Germany, confronting the horrific acts of the Holocaust; and the riveting stories of survivors of the unimaginably brutal Rwandan genocide.

“Forgiveness is elusive, mysterious, primal…an idea and an ache, which is rooted in existential concerns,” Whitney said. “But, too often forgiveness is presented as a simplistic valentine celebrating New Age pieties: exhorting us to forgive and criticizing those who cannot as spiritual underachievers.

“My intention is to complicate this vitally important subject. The film is meant to raise questions, not provide answers.”

Whitney’s multi-layered film explores the overarching concept of forgiveness and raises serious and complex questions: why is forgiveness in the air today; what does that say about the times; what is its power, its limitations and in some instances its dangers; has it been cheapened or deepened?

The first segment of the film explores the contradictions and complexities of forgiveness in the private realm – its transformative power, elusive nature and spiritual importance. Highlighted during the film’s prologue are Washington State serial killer Gary Ridgeway facing the families of his victims, a World War II combat veteran craving forgiveness from God on his deathbed and the family of a murdered South African opponent of the apartheid regime confronting their son’s killer.

The second segment of Whitney’s film focuses primarily on national crimes and forgiveness, as well as intimate wounds. Whitney focuses on genocide and war crimes. The film poses the question of whether forgiveness can be legislated by a nation or whether it places too much of a burden on the victims.

Whitney’s film ends with an epilogue suggesting that forgiveness begins and ends with one person facing another and that the decision to forgive or not is a choice at the heart of shared humanity.

“Forgiveness: A Time to Love and a Time to Hate” is a production of Helen Whitney Productions, Clear View Productions Foundation and WETA Washington, D.C. The film is written, produced and directed by Whitney. Executive producers are Paul Dietrich and Ian Watson. WETA executive producers are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson. Funding was provided by the Fetzer Institute and the John Templeton Foundation.

The Arkansas PBS (AETN) is Arkansas’s statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit, or follow the AETN blog at AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).