The student film Seeger’s Seek of Truth by David Xi ’21 and Eric Guo ’21 won third place in the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Speak Truth to Power Video Contest. The film focuses on Daniel Seeger, a resident of neighboring Pennswood Village, and his fight for the right to conscientious objection. The legal battle was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1965.
The film originated as a collaborative assignment between the global politics and film classes, taught by Meredith Baldi ’01 and Scott Seraydarian ’90 respectively. The prompt for the assignment was, “What can an individual do to affect change?”
Meredith shared a more in-depth look into the collaboration between the two subjects. “My students did historical research on the human rights defenders. Together, with Scott’s film students, they decided how they wanted to tell the stories, including what was the significant takeaway from these individual’s stories, and then Scott’s film students made the films and brought it all to life. Impressively, they did this in the spring, when all the interviewing had to be done on Zoom. It definitely posed a challenge for the students, but they very happily rose to the occasion.”
Both David and Eric decided to focus on Daniel’s story because they believe it is extremely relevant to today’s political climate.
“By focusing on Daniel’s fight for religious freedom and religious rights, we hope to convey the message that America is not a theocracy, the US government does not (and cannot per the constitution) endorse, persecution, censor, or unfairly treat any religious groups,” said David. “His case is a powerful reminder that regardless of our personal beliefs, the government as a collective entity is designed to be secular—and maintaining the secularity of the US government is crucial to protecting religious/areligious minorities.”
“I think Seeger’s story alone is compelling enough and it would be influential if the story can be expressed effectively,” said Eric who was the filmmaker. “I decided to bring out this story relying on both first-person and third-person narrative, presenting it in a raw and emotional form. It turned out to be very successful.”