Exposure cultivates understanding. That is the guiding force behind Beyond the Border, a five-film series produced by the Kennedy Center in partnership with Combat Films and Research (CF&R). The series seeks to immerse viewers in cultures and allow them to experience— via documentary—people, events, ideas, and places far beyond their own surroundings.
“One of our responsibilities at the center is to support, research, and create outreach products—ways we can reach out to the community and inform them about international affairs,” explained Jeff Ringer, Kennedy Center director. “We’ve been doing a nice job with lectures and conferences, but those will only go so far; we wanted to try to push it a little further. That’s how this series evolved.”
A friendship with CF&R founder and Beyond the Border director, Dodge Billingsley, was a natural match to bring the series into production. A frequent lecturer at the center, Billingsley received his bachelor’s degree in peace studies from Columbia University and his master’s degree in war studies from London’s Kings College. A defense analyst by training, he is well acquainted with world travel, starting his film-making career as a result of his own interest in recording history as a primary witness. “I thought for sure I’d be a defense analyst, either in or out of the government,” admitted Billingsley. “And then I went to work for a small verification agency in London, just for the summer. The biggest problem was that I wanted to be out on the ground.”