Monday, September 24, 2012

Peace film fest ends, never-ending peace begins

Yesterday, the 10th annual Global Peace Film Festival (website) came to a close, but not before one of the busier days I have had so far.

The day began by attending the screening of the beautiful short documentary film "Khatti Suun", which was produced by women in Nepal's 'untouchable class' through a workshop sponsored by the Human Rights Film Centre of Nepal (HRFC).  The chairperson of HRFC (website), Purna Singh Baraily, brought the film with him to Global Peace as he searched for films to program in the Human Rights Film Festival in Kathmandu, which he directs.

a scene from "Khatti Suun"

Two women from the 'untouchable class' are featured in "Khatti Suun" (website).  Too poor to have been provided with the opportunity to study at school as children, the women return to school as adults, studying alongside children who are decades younger than themselves.  The women talk about their lives and what it means to be able to attend school, and the resulting film is both honest and heart-breaking.

Next on the agenda was a "Meet & Greet" event planned by two students from Rollins College.

Students taking the "Media, Justice and Peace" course at Rollins College (website) split up into pairs and 'adopted' films from the Global Peace Film Festival.  The students developed advertising for the films, arranged events surrounding the film and assisted the visiting directors.  

The students I worked with, Kara and Daniel, were both interested and interesting.  They were motivated and motivating.  They were learning and they were teaching.  Working with them was for me one of the highlights of the festival.

In addition to the advertising campaign (which included graffiti art!) and filming the Q and A sessions after the screenings, one of the events they planned was a "Meet & Greet" event.

As it turned out, it was a BEAUTIFUL day and so the turn out for the event (which was held inside) was less than they had expected.  But Kara and Daniel did not waste this opportunity.  Over the last few days we had talked a lot about the films in the festival, and it was clear that they had been thinking about how they could apply what they had learned to the course work they had ahead of them.

Kara and Daniel will be making a short documentary for a local non-profit to use, and they started asking questions about pre-production, shooting and editing.  When there was a low turnout for the event they had planned, they simply made the best of an opportunity to learn.  It was such an honour to meet them and so many other students at Rollins.

Next, we headed over to the screening hall for the second screening of my documentary "In the Grey Zone" (website).  While it went well, it couldn't have been more different from the first screening.  Not only was the venue very different, but the audience was different, too, and this very much affected the kinds of questions asked and the over-all atmosphere of the Q and A.  It was fascinating how an audience can almost seemingly have a collective reaction to a film, and once I have time to process the experience, I will write about it more.  I certainly learned a lot from this experience, and I am glad that Kara and Daniel had the opportunity to witness such vastly different screenings of the same exact film.

Immediately following the screening of "In the Grey Zone" was the final film  of the festival "Rise Up and Dream" (website), the story of a group of young people in the Philippines as they are helped though a music program developed by a non-profit organization.  Beautifully shot, "Rise Up and Dream" is both a film and a call to grassroots activism.  And the music, by composer Barclay Martin, is amazing.

And then the festivities came to a close as the filmmakers, supporters and staff of the festival gathered one last time to break bread together and to offer our thanks to one another for a wonderful and meaningful time.

with producer Wendy Wallenberg and composer Barclay Martin

goofing around with Egyptian film director Khaled Sayed

Singing at Maxine's On Shine (Maxine is on the bottom right)

Yesterday was the last day of Global Peace Film Festival, but saying good-bye does not have a sad feeling of finality to it.  I am looking forward to the future, to hearing about how all the people in attendance (the viewers, the staff, the volunteers, the filmmakers) go out into the world and share all of the things we learned in Orlando.  

As we leave Global Peace Film Festival for another year, we say to each other "until next time".  And to those we meet from today, we say "Peace be with you".

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