'Beyond Our Differences' screening on Friday

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February 1, 2010 // UPDATED 5:02 pm - February 3, 2010
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

There will be a special screening of the documentary “Beyond Our Differences,” a film exploring the positive impact of religion and spirituality in the world, at the Mayo Memorial Auditorium at the University of Minnesota campus Friday.

Peter Bisanz, the film’s director, will be on hand after the screening for a Q&A session.

Bisanz of St. Paul is the director and founder of New York-based Entropy Films. He is one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders — a group of people committed to turning their visions for positive change into action on a variety of important social causes.

In a recent interview, Bisanz said the concept for “Beyond Our Differences” came about while he was at the Dalai Lama’s 70th birthday. While working on his MBA at Oxford, Bisanz interned for Tibetan officials in Dharamsala, India.

“We came up with the idea of doing this film that would vindicate god in the name of all the violence that’s happening in the world today — focusing on the positive role of faith, spirituality and religion,” he said.

After filming interviews with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders in late 2005, he headed to South Africa to talk to leaders there. All told, he traveled to 20 different countries for the project. He wrapped up work on the documentary in 2008. “Beyond Our Differences” first aired in late 2009.

“I was trying to imbed as much diversity in there as possible,” Bisanz said. “So I wanted to encompass the major faiths of the world and all the continents, and have it be balanced between men and women as well. I was trying to capture all of the demographics.”

The film explores the common ground the major faiths of the world share.

“I think the common thread is that all the religions call us to be better,” he said. “The greatest byproduct of a religious or spiritual experiences is a calling to be of service in the world, and to take care of people who need protection and who need food and shelter. … And all of these values about love, tolerance, compassion, forgiveness — so many of these universal values are embedded in all the worlds’ faiths.”

Doors open at 5 p.m. for the screening and community dialogue. The Mayo Memorial Auditorium is a 425 Delaware St. SE.

Audience dialogue will be facilitated by Mark Umbreit, a professor in the School of Social Work. The event is hosted by the Student Mindfulness Club and the Center for Spirituality & Healing. 

For more information on the documentary, visit beyondourdifferences.com.