HUMNEWS: Nina, this is the 9th annual Global Peace Film Festival, what was your inspiration behind putting together a festival around the theme of peace?
NINA STREICH: The festival was actually not my idea. The founding funder, who sadly went out of business began the festival in 2003; the year the war started in Iraq. The theme of peace was really less about protesting war and more about focusing on the positive of peace. I was hired to organize the festival and then when the original founder went out of business I kept it going because I see it as a worthwhile struggle…. I wish I could say it was my idea but it was something that was given to me, I see it almost as a present.
HN: What countries are the films you are showing from, and how do you choose your films?
NS: We have consistently had films every year from six continents in the world.. the only exception being Antarctica. There are not many filmmakers down there I don’t think - althugh we do have a person living in Antarctica who "likes" us on our Facebook page. As far as how we choose films, we have an open submission process and we go to other festivals to see finished works as well as look at works in progress. We use the festival to promote global issues as well as local ones, we listen to people here in the Orlando area, faculty at colleges, and community groups about what they are working on and themes that may meet there needs.
For example last year there were two ballot initiatives regarding fair district amendments in Florida, we had a film entitled Gerrymandering that dealt with this topic and we knew that the League of Women Voters and the ACLU, both very active on the issue of fair district amendments in the state would be interested in helping organize and promote the screenings for this film. Both amendments passed and although the film itself didn’t make a difference in getting the amendments passed it was a tremendous asset to have in terms of exposing a topic and getting people aware of it and talk about it.
HN: Do you show both feature length and short films at the festival?
NS: We do show shorts and feature length films and we also do something that is unorthodox for some festivals we show off length films, which are over 45 minute and under 60 – they are too long to be considered shorts and too short to be considered feature. Last year we had an excellent film about hospice volunteers that was 52 minutes and it had gotten rejected from other festivals not because it wasn’t good but because it was an off length film.
HN: When we first spoke you said that the Global Peace Film Festival is very action oriented, how is this film festival different from others out there?
NS: Absolutely. We have partnerships with local organizations and local chapters of international organizations so that unlike other film festivals where the film is just discussed after the showing we want our audience to go out and make the world a better place. We want our audience to be able to participate in the action that the films demand. The partnerships we have with organizations allows us to reach the audience and say “if you were moved by this film, or what you saw made you angry or inspired you in some way, here is what you can do”.
A couple of years ago I went to the board meeting of the United Nations Association USA, Florida Chapter, a group that has been part of the festival each year and one of the board members turned to me and said "I found out about the UNA Florida Chapter because of your festival". She said, “ I had just moved to the area and I was looking for groups to be involved with and I saw the UNA of Florida at the Peace Film Festival and now I’m on the board”. To me that is a perfect success story.
HN: Do you have a way to measure and see what kind of an impact the films shown at the festival have on audience members?
NS: We do have an impact survey that asks, “did the film you see change your opinion?” and “do you want to take action?” – if you check yes to the second question we have added a new question this year that asks, “what do you want to do?” – we have had a survey for only a few years and so far the lowest percentage of audience members surveyed that answered "yes" to the film having changed their opinion has been 59 percent. The positive response to the question of “do you want to take action”? has been in the high to mid 60 percent. We have also had some people disagree with the films. – The challenge for us now is to figure out of the 59+ percent of the people who’s opinion was changed about the topic in the film and of those that wanted to take action, how many of them actually went out and took action? – how can we statistically follow up? - this is something I would like to know, although I am not sure yet how to go about it.
HN: Thank you for taking the time to speak with HUMNews.
NS: Thank you.
This energetic documentary looks back at the legendary West Indies cricket team that rose to prominence in the 1970s and 80s. Led by the dynamic Clive Lloyd, the team used the game of cricket to battle oppressive forces of prejudice on the playing field through superior athleticism and a bold, insuppressible spirit. Amidst the turbulent backdrop of European race riots, South African apartheid and civil unrest in the Caribbean, the West Indian players were thrust into the world"s spotlight as a dynamic force with which to be reckoned. - Stevan Riley - Categories:Afro-Caribbean, Documentary, History, Sports
Are you looking for some real wisdom to hold onto in these crazy, rapidly changing times? Then you will love PeaceJam's new film, '2012: The True Mayan Prophecy.' Nobel Peace Laureates Rigoberta Menchu Tum, The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu and others tell you what you DON'T need to worry about, and the five things we all need to be doing right now in order to best survive this change in time. - Dawn Engle - Categories:Documentary, History, Peace, Women
Fifty years ago oil was discovered in the Niger Delta. Although millions of dollars in 'black gold' are pumped out of the ground every day, the average Niger Deltan lives on just one dollar a day. Plagued by environmental degradation and community conflict, 'Curse of the Black Gold' gives voice to local activists and officials, poets and militants who confront the enormous cost of oil exploitation in Nigeria. - Ed Kashi, Julie Winokur - Categories:Africa, Environment, Short Film
A startling account of hunger in some of America’s most affluent communities after the worst economic downturn since the great depression, students from a wealthy Southern California suburb discover that “One in Seven” in the US suffer from hunger. While the film illuminates with personal stories that are heart-wrenching, it focused on solutions, creating change, and hope. - Douglas Green - Categories:Activism, Documentary, Human Rights, Short Film, Youth
Captivating, wondrous and extremely frightening, INTO ETERNITY takes viewers on a journey never seen before into the underworld and into the future. “This place is not a place of honour. No esteemed deeds are commemorated here. This is not a place for you. What is here is dangerous and repulsive. The danger will still be present in your time, as it is in ours.” These are the sentences that future man will meet if he finds and opens the gigantic network of underground tunnels which are presently being hewn out of the bedrock in Finland. The tunnels will be filled with high-level radioactive waste, which must be kept isolated from human beings and other live organisms for at least 100.000 years into the future so as not to render large areas uninhabitable. - Michael Madsen - Categories:Documentary, Environment, History, Nuclear
The film festival opens with a free outdoor screening on the lawn at Rollins College of Fire in Babylon (UK, 2010, 82 mins.), the breathtaking story of one of the most gifted teams in sporting history. There will be live music, spoken word and a drumming circle to celebrate the International Day of Peace before the screening begins.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu Tum inspired and is featured in 2012: The True Mayan Prophecy (USA/Guatemala, 2011, 50 mins.) along with fellow laureates the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The After Party (USA, 2010, 64 mins.) features Andre ‘3000’ Benjamin at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City in a story about domestic surveillance and civil liberties in the post 9/11 era. Australian-Hungarian filmmaker Peter Hegedus explores his relationship with the America of his childhood in My America (Auatralia/China/Hungary, 2011, 88 mins.).
Narrative films in this year’s program include The Trotsky (Canada, 2010, 114 mins.), a comedic coming-of-age story and the southeast premiere of Golf in the Kingdom (USA, 2011, 86 mins.), the film adaptation of Michael Murphy’s classic novel – the best selling work of fiction ever written about the game of golf.
Films about the environment and sustainability are showcased each year in the GPFF and focus on SOLUTIONS. Carbon Nation (USA, 2010, 86 mins.) presents ideas about action we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint. Why? Because it’s good business. An ordinary guy wants to do the right thing for his daughter by taking steps to stop global warming in How to Boil a Frog (Canada, 2010, 87 mins.). Overdrive: Istanbul in the New Millenium (Turkey/USA, 2011, 64 mins.) explores a city coming to terms with accelerated population growth and car-centric policies where congestion and pollution are overshadowing the joy of living in the beautiful city. Body image and our relationship to food are explored in Off the Menu (USA, 2011, 45 mins.) that will screen with Food for Granted (USA, 2011, 11 mins.) and Lunch (USA, 2010, 25 mins.), that examine food waste and school food.
Travel around the world in film with Egypt: The Story Behind the Revolution; Operation Peter Pan: Flying Back to Cuba; Tanzania – A Friendship Journey and Venezuela [sur] Realista. The history of Haiti is interwoven with the extraordinary story of Orchestre Septentrional in When the Drum is Beating (USA/Haiti, 2011, 84 mins.) and The Truth that Wasn’t There (UK/Sri Lanka, 2010, 88 mins.) witnesses the end of the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka. Two programs about the Middle East will be presented. My So-Called Enemy (USA, 2010, 89 mins.) introduces 22 Palestinian, Israeli and Palestinian Israeli teenage girls who participate in a women’s leadership program and how the experience of knowing their “enemies” as human beings meets with the realities of their lives at home over the next seven years. A unique collaboration of the Tel Aviv University Film & TV Department brought together young Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers to create a series of short films, all dealing with the project title Coffee – Between Reality and Imagination. Eight short films, four by Israeli filmmakers and four by Palestinians, give a personal point of view on the reality in which they live.
Three films, Atomic Mom (US/Japan, 2010, 80mins.), In My Lifetime (USA, 2011, 109mins.) and Into Eternity (Denmark, 2010, 75 mins.) examine shed light on different perspectives on nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
Issues confronting soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are examined in On the Bridge (France/USA, 2010, 96 mins.) while The Patriot Guard Riders (USA, 2011, 73 mins.) takes us on a solemn journey astride souped-up motorcycles to funerals of young soldiers killed in action and Semper Fi: Always Faithful (USA, 2011, 75 mins.) uncovers the US Department of Defense’s role in the unprecedented number of cancer cases and deaths at Camp Lejeune.
A mother and daughter are reunited after being separated by war in Pushing the Elephant (Kenya/Rwanda/USA, 2010, 85 mins.). Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America (USA, 2011, 79 mins.) follows the vibrant lives of five women on their journey to the 2010 Ms. Wheelchair America pageant and feminist activist Charlotte Bunch is profiled in Passionate Politics: The Life & Work of Charlotte Bunch (Peru/South Africa/USA, 2011, 60 mins.).
Gainesville homeless advocate Pat Fitzpatrick argues for a more compassionate stance towards the city’s homeless in Civil Indigent (USA, 2010, 55 mins.) and in Project Happiness (USA, 2011, 62 mins.) a group of teens, each facing loss, alienation and the everyday challenges of being a teenager, explore the nature of lasting happiness.
Many filmmakers will be on hand to answer questions after the screenings of their films. In addition to the films, there will be discussion panels throughout the week. Topics include “What is Peace?” (9/21, 4pm.); “Making Films that Make a Difference,” (9/22, 4pm.) featuring local and visiting filmmakers; “Peace Pitch,” (9/23. 4pm.) with Daniel Karslake discussing his work-in-progress, “Every Three Seconds” about the potential to end world hunger and extreme poverty; and an Issues Forum on Media Coverage of Peace & Environment issues (9/24, 11am). These four panels will be in the Bush Science Building, Room 120 at Rollins College.
Two other panel discussions will take place following screenings: one after the screening of “Carbon Nation” at the Orlando Science Center (9/24, 1pm). And on Sunday (9/25, 6pm.), local faith leaders in Central Florida brought together by the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, will discuss film the issues raised in the film “Pushing the Elephant.”
Tickets to GPFF screenings are $8 each, and are on sale now. Tickets may be purchased online at http://globalpeace.slated.com/2011/schedule/week or at each venue during festival hours. Patrons may purchase a Silver Pass for $99 or a Gold Pass for $199 at http://peacefilmfest.org/ that are good for admission to all festival screenings and events.
The Global Peace Film Festival is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program, in part by United Arts of Central Florida and by the Thomas P. Johnson Visiting Scholar and Artist Fund. The GPFF is proud to be carbon neutral for the fourth year thanks to our sponsor, Southeast Carbon. Other sponsors include the Orlando Weekly, IDEAS, Rollins College, Moore Stephens Lovelace PA, Valencia College, the Downtown Development Board, Dandelion Communitea Café, Women in Film & TV-Florida and the OCCVB.