The Universal Language

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About ‘The Universal Language’

The Universal Language is a new documentary from Academy Award-nominated director Sam Green (The Weather Underground). This 30-minute film traces the history of Esperanto, an artificial language that was created in the late 1800s by a Polish eye doctor who believed that if everyone in the world spoke a common tongue, humanity could overcome racism and war. Fittingly, the word “Esperanto” means “one who hopes.”

During the early 20th century, hundreds of thousands of people around the world spoke Esperanto and believed in its ideals. Today, surprisingly, a vibrant Esperanto movement still exists. In this first-ever documentary about Esperanto, Green creates a portrait of the language and those who speak it today that is at once humorous, poignant, stirring, and ultimately hopeful.

What is Esperanto?

Esperanto is a language, but not of any country or ethnic group—it is a neutral, international language. Estimates of the number of people who speak Esperanto today range from 10,000 to two million. Created by Ludwig Zamenhof in 1887, Esperanto has a very regular structure, which means it is easy to learn. Communication through Esperanto does not give advantages to the members of any particular people or culture, but instead provides an ethos of equality of rights, tolerance and true internationalism.

Upcoming Screenings