The Downing Film Center presents A TOWERING TASK: THE STORY OF THE PEACE CORPS, a new documentary by Alana DeJoseph. Narrated by Annette Benning, the film tells the remarkable story of the Peace Corps and takes viewers on a journey of what it means to be a global citizen.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave young Americans the opportunity to serve their country in a new way by forming the Peace Corps. Since then, more than 200,000 of them have traveled to more than 140 countries to carry out the organization's mission of international cooperation. Nearly 60 years later, Americans - young and old alike - still want to serve their country and understand their place in the world; current volunteers work at the forefront of some of the most pressing issues facing the global community.
Yet the agency has struggled to remain relevant amid sociopolitical change. More than once it had to fight for its very existence, and now - between COVID, a rise in nationalist sentiment and deep cuts to governmental-agency budgets - the Peace Corps is again confronting a crisis of identity: What role should it play around the world and in the lives of engaged citizens?
"Enlightening and uplifting. 'A Towering Task' puts a human face on the Peace Corps - and makes sense of its history of idealism, improvisation, politics, and at times its failings. It is the most coherent and satisfying documentary I know of the Peace Corps, and I can't imagine a better one."
- Paul Theroux, Travel Writer & Novelist