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Published on Apr 26, 2013

3 Superheroes of Peace and nonviolence use their powers to change the course of world history. The 5 Powers Movie addresses timeless, yet contemporary issues, weaving powerfully illustrated comic book animation, historic archive documents and modern film footage into an entertaining, inspiring, heart-touching story.

Through the experiences of the films protagonists; Alfred Hassler, an American anti-war superhero, Vietnamese peace activist Sister Chan Khong and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, whom Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967, the audience is confronted with a variety of challenging and complex issues. Self-immolation, conscientious objection, nonviolent resistance, death and destruction, and an unwavering compassion for those who suffered on all sides of the war.

One of the film's big surprises is the largely unknown comic book that turned Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr, into a Superhero. Dr. Sylvia Rhor, a NYU Martin Luther King, Jr. expert, reveals the story of the powerful "Martin Luther King and The Montgomery Story" Comic Book.

In 1958, Alfred Hassler had an idea to work with Martin Luther King, Jr. to produce a comic book - a comic book to be distributed in the South to young and old, African Americans and white Americans, to tell the story of the struggle for civil rights in Montgomery.

The idea itself was groundbreaking. Rarely does one think of a comic book as an important tool in the struggle for civil rights, but this comic book has been quietly changing the course of history around the world for over 50 years.

The 5 Powers Movie narrative looks at Alfred Hassler's life through the eyes of Vietnamese Buddhism and portrays him as an American Bodhisattva—an enlightened heroic figure, committed to exercising compassion for all living beings. His journey forms the archetypical origin story of our hero, exemplified by shared episodes from the true accounts in the lives of Thich Nhat Hanh, Sister Chan Khong and Hassler himself.

The formative experiences of these characters, as they meet and collaborate in the turbulent 1960s, alongside figures like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Buddhist leader Thich Tri Quang, are framed within scenes at Hassler's bedside, as his condition worsens in the hours before his death in June of 1991: A scene which causes the audience to reflect on their loved ones who were also facing death.

Viewers will be also be surprised to learn that in 1970, Thich Nhat Hanh and Alfred Hassler initiated the first large international meeting on the environment called Dai Dong, or "Great Togetherness." Dai Dong was a groundbreaking environmental initiative that brought scientists, academics and peace activists together, linking the issues of war, environmental problems and poverty. The initiative produced The "Menton Statement", which was signed by more than 5,000 scientists from around the world.

The film uses the dramaturgical structure of a classic documentary, woven together with comic book animation, its narrative unfolding through recurring symbols and themes pertinent to the principles and ideals of its heroes.

The film also points to the fact that nonviolent movements are not outside of the realm of violence, nor out of touch with reality, but are situated beyond violence, giving practitioners a more powerful tool than arms and weaponry.

As the film tells a story of the seemingly unstoppable escalation of violence, it simultaneously redefines a traditional dramatic structure: there is no good or bad, no white or black. There is only compassion and suffering.

The realization of this ultimate truth has the power to unite us - each with the other and with all who have courageously fought for peace. The story ends with a call to action, an invitation to the viewer to become a hero in his or her own life.

We hope that this film will challenge the traditional notion of 'the hero' and what constitutes heroic action, helping the viewer to discover the hidden hero inside and outside of themselves.



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