Director’s Statement – Jan Selby

janselby35719_rt_fltTo me, the peace symbol has always represented hope and change for the better. It is recognized around the globe, crossing language and cultural barriers. Yet, most people have no idea where it came from. This intrigued me enough to start researching the origin of this ubiquitous symbol.

Once I started my research, I noticed the peace symbol everywhere. At first, I thought it was just my imagination. Coincidentally, I chose this topic just as the symbol was becoming more popular. It was everywhere; on t-shirts, purses, jewelry, baby clothes, and fashion runways. It appeared more and more as I got deeper and deeper into the project.

When making A CIRCLE AND THREE LINES, I was faced with a common documentary filmmaker’s challenge – what would the film end up being about? I wanted the audience to learn and remember the origin of the peace symbol. I wanted them to be thoughtful about its future. Once I completed my research, I aspired to honor two men I got to know in the process of making the film.

First, I wanted to acknowledge the humble contribution of an English artist and designer, Gerald Holtom. Gerald knew that a graphic symbol would crystallize the message of the thousands who marched to a nuclear weapons factory in protest in 1958. He represents the universal story of an unsung hero. A man doing his best to contribute his talents where needed: nothing more and nothing less. This small act changed our world in a very visible way.

ACATL Gerald Holtom

Gerald died in 1985. In order to tell his story, I found Ken Kolsbun, author of Peace: The Biography of a Symbol (National Geographic, 2008). Once I read his book, published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the peace symbol, I knew I had to interview Ken. Not only had Ken corresponded with Gerald and his family, he also was a life-long peace activist who had spent his life photographing the peace symbol. After meeting Ken, I knew I had met another quiet hero who has steadfastly stood for what he has believed in.

A CIRCLE AND THREE LINES is my first film. The process of making it has been transformational for me both personally and professionally. I hope it inspires viewers to respect, celebrate, and cherish the peace symbol now, and for generations to come.