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The Peace Agency

Lian Gogali and her 500 female students are a force to be reckoned with in the conflict torn area of Poso, Indonesia. They are part of a powerful and successful movement for peace and justice in an area that has been racked by inter-religious violence for over a decade.

But five years ago, Lian was just a single mother living in rural Poso with a broken leg and a big dream to educate marginalised women. The Peace Agency follows her remarkable journey from her village to New York City to create The Women's School, an institution that transforms its all-female class into agents of peace and non-violent grassroots activism that has altered the course of the conflict in Poso, and possibly the future of Indonesia.

  • Sue Useem
    Director
    Which Way to the War?
  • Ernest Weiss Hariyanto
    Writer
    Jalanan, Let Elephants Be Elephants
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Genres:
    Human Rights, Women's Rights, Asian Studies, Peace and Conflict, Interfaith, Disability, Documentary
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 31 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    73,672 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Indonesia, United States
  • Language:
    English, Indonesian
  • Shooting Format:
    24p1080
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Respect Human Rights Film Festival Belfast
    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    United Kingdom
    UK
    Official Selection
  • Big Muddy Film Festival
    Carbondale, Ill
    United States
    John Michael's Award
  • San Diego Women's Film Festival
    San Deigo, California
    United States
    March 26, 2017
    West Coast Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Women's Rights Nights
    Skopje
    Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
    Eastern European
    Official Selection
  • New Haven International Film Festival
    New Haven
    United States
    May 4, 2017
    East Coast
    Official Selection
  • MICGenero Film Festival
    Mexico City
    Mexico
    August 4, 2017
    Latin America Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Action on Film Festival
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    United States
    August 24, 2017
    SouthWest Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Black Bear Film Festival
    Milford, PA
    United States
    October 19, 2017
    Pennsylvania Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Humanity House
    The Hague
    Netherlands
    September 6, 2017
    Dutch Premiere
  • Just Films Series
    Pittsburg, PA
    United States
    December 6, 2017
    Pittsburgh Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Balinale
    Bali
    Indonesia
    September 24, 2017
    Asia Premiere
    Official Selection
  • FICFUSA
    Fusagasuga
    Colombia
    September 5, 2017
    South American Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Awareness Fest
    Los Angeles
    United States
    October 6, 2017
    Los Angeles Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Social Justice Film Festival
    Seattle
    United States
    November 15, 2017
    Washington Premiere
    Official Selection
  • VOX Feminae
    Zagreb
    Croatia
    November 6, 2017
    Croatia Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Oregon State International Film Festival
    Corvallis
    United States
    November 4, 2017
    North West Premiere
    Official Selection
  • FilmFest52
    Vermont
    United States
    December 8, 2017
    Vermont Premiere
    Official Selection
  • FilmFest52
    Colorado Springs
    United States
    April 1, 2018
    Colorado Premiere
  • Jaipur International Film Festival
    Jaipur
    India
    January 6, 2018
    Indian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • SEAxSEA
    Seattle, WA
    United States
    January 26, 2018
    Winner Best Documentary
  • World of Women
    Dubai
    United Arab Emirates
    February 6, 2018
    Middle East Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Cameroon International Film Festival

    African Premiere
    Official Selection
  • CASCADIA Women's Film Festival
    Bellingham, WA
    United States
    Official Selection
  • Oneote Film Festival
    Decorah, IA
    United States
    April 19, 2018
    Iowa Premiere
    Official Selection
  • High Peak Independent Film Festival
    New Mills, UK
    United Kingdom
    June 16, 2018
    Winner Outstanding Documentary
  • Full Bloom Film Festival
    Statesville, NC
    United States
    September 14, 2018
    North Carolina Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Women's Film Festival
    Brattleboro, VT
    United States
    March 11, 2018
    Official Selection
  • The Women's Film Festival
    Philadelphia, PA
    United States
    March 19, 2018
    Official Selection
  • Afghanistan International Human Rights Film Fetival
    Kabul
    Afghanistan
    October 1, 2018
    Central Asia Premiere
    Official Selection
  • 30th Paris International Lesbian & Feminist Film Festival
    Paris
    France
    October 31, 2018
    French Premiere
    Official Selection
  • FIlmFest Frauenwelten Terre Des Femmes
    Tubingen
    Germany
    November 21, 2018
    German Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Sue Useem

Sue Useem is an American documentary filmmaker and entrepreneur residing in Asia. She has directed and produced two feature length documentaries "Which Way to the War?" and "The Peace Agency".

Her work has been seen in many productions, including on Animal Planet, The History Channel, and National Geographic..

Previously she was a producer and broadcaster at the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington, D.C. for five years.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

When I came to Lian’s house in Poso in 2010 to pay a visit after finishing my first documentary about the Poso conflict, I had no plans on making a new documentary there. Since I had seen her last, she had become a single mother and was trying to recover from her accident, all while fighting Tuberculosis. When she told me she was holding classes for women on her front porch I considered the idea of making a short documentary about it in order to help her promote the idea. I had no idea what journey both of us were about to embark on. The result is "The Peace Agency."

For the last six years I have been traveling to Poso back and forth to capture what she worked so hard for, which gave me intimate access to her life and story. At first, I thought it was her personal story that would be the main topic of the film. I was frightened she would die of her injuries and illnesses, and it captured my attention for the first two years. When she was able to get the life and leg saving surgeries she needed, I was elated to see her take her school and movement to new heights I could have never imagined. With two legs, what more could she do? Turns out, a lot!

Along the way, as we both grew along with the expansion of the school and interfaith movement, I began to realize that this was simply too big of a story about the school and the fantastic women involved in it to not make that the center of this film. But it was never clear at the time that this film was going to have a happy ending. Would they get the funding they needed? Could Lian take groups of impoverished and traumatized women from across a huge area of remote Indonesia, and turn them not only into peacemakers, but agents of change for a better Indonesia? Or would Poso collapse back into violence?

When we got notice that she would be flying to New York with the chance of winning the Coexist Prize, I knew the redeeming moment for both of us had come. I could never have imagined how well it all would turn out. Since then, it has been nothing but good news. I struggled to decide where to end this film because so many new events kept on happening. In truth, there is no end to this social movement, and I can only hope to capture a few years of it and show what I can of it with the budget I had.

I am so grateful for Lian giving me the access to her life and story and for all of the people of Poso who have been so kind and welcoming to me over the years. It has truly been a transformational and humbling experience for everyone involved.