"We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same." — Anne Frank

A free film series, “Seeing Diversity,” featuring five Academy Award-winning feature films and a moving and thought-provoking documentary is being presented at the Rustic Theatre beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13.

The genesis for this series was two connected incidents of hate crimes in Idyllwild, both anti-Semitic in nature — one at Idyllwild Middle School in March, and another at a private residence in September 2010. The films in this series address prejudices and divisions born of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference and socio-economic status. Organizers of the series hope the films help promote understanding of and appreciation for what it is to be “the other.”

Seeing and appreciating diversity does not require conformity or even agreement, but it does enhance empathy for and understanding of those who may be different from us. As W.H. Auden wrote, “Civilizations should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”

The opening film is “Schindler’s List.” Steven Spielberg produced and directed this 1993 film of the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist and Nazi party member ultimately credited with saving 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. Initially seeing the advantage of using cheap Jewish labor to enhance his own luxurious lifestyle, Schindler wound up befriending his Jewish workers, caring for them and sheltering them from certain extermination.

“I knew the people who worked for me. … When you know people, you have to behave towards them like human beings,” said Schindler in a post-war interview. By the end of the war, Schindler had spent his entire fortune on bribes and black-market purchases of supplies for his workers. He died penniless and is the only Nazi party member buried, with honor, on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.

Nominated for 12 Academy Awards and the recipient of seven, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography and Score, “Schindler’s List” is a moving tribute to the power of the human spirit. It is recognized as one of the finest films ever made, number eight on the American Film Institute’s top 100 list.

All films start at 4:15 on Sunday except “Schindler’s List,” which starts at 4 p.m. Admission to all films in the series is free.