RiverRun 2016: A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers


Sick of seeing movies with predictable plotlines and narratives that you feel like you’ve seen all too many times? May I present A Journey of a Thousand Miles, a documentary that delves deep into a subject few viewers will know anything about.

The film follows 160 women from Bangladesh — police officers enlisted as part of a broader United Nations peacekeeping force in Haiti. 

But the film’s strength isn’t just its unique subject selection; this documentary explores the nuances of how the year-long deployment affects several of the female leaders of the force. The women allow incredibly personal access to themselves and their families as they navigate an often contentious situation, as well as their unique role as female officers trying to advance their own station and the position of women in their society.

Plus, many Haitians aren’t exactly thrilled by the UN’s presence in their country, blaming the multinational organization for a deadly cholera outbreak. Flare-ups are common, and it isn’t clear the poorly trained Bangledeshi women will be safe.

“The anger the Haitian people feel is logical,” one of the women says in the film. “They don’t have proper housing or food.”

But despite their sympathies, language and cultural barriers prevent deeper cross-cultural connections and add to a building sense of frustration and longing for home in several of the female officers. Most interesting, perhaps, is what happens after the women return home, attempting to reintegrate to their lives and reflecting on whether they would deploy again knowing what they do in hindsight.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers will screen on April 14 at 2 p.m. at Hanesbrands Theatre, and on April 16 at 2:00 p.m. and April 17 at 11 a.m. at UNCSA Babcock.

— Eric Ginsburg