Why Whitehead?

Most film festivals carry the name of the city in which they are located. We are located in Claremont, California, so some have asked, “But why is it the Whitehead festival, instead of the Claremont festival?” The initial impetus for this festival in 2001 came from an international group of persons deeply influenced by the philosophical vision of Alfred North Whitehead, a mathematician turned physicist turned philosopher in the first half of the 20th century. His queries into the “how” of this world led him to develop a vision in which all things that exist are interdependent. We live in and through our relationships with one another. Because of this, we are ultimately responsible for one another – and therefore, we are personally and communally responsible for the common good.

“How can we, as Whiteheadians, foster a deeper awareness of our responsibility for the common good?” was the question this group asked. And one of the answers was this film festival. Films are the common language of people around the world; we share our cultures through film; we share our perceptions of what it is to be human, our trials and our transformations. Through film, the ‘strangeness’ of other cultures can turn into appreciation and understanding. And through appreciating and understanding one another, we exercise care for one another, doing what we can to seek and promote the common good.

And so we select films of artistic excellence that do this very thing. Each film speaks of human dignity, of our responsibilities to one another, of problems common to us all, and of the hope of creative transformation in our very togetherness.

Whiteheadian philosophy provides a worldview that fosters social and personal responsibility to one another and to the earth that sustains us. And so do the films we select each year. Thus, we are the Whitehead International Film Festival.

Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki
Director, Whitehead International Film Festival