The Global Peace Film Festival is bringing another year of peaceful films that hope to encourage awareness and education, open dialogue and change.
The festival, running Tuesday, Sept. 20, through Sunday, Sept. 25, features films with a range of subjects — from the environment and sustainability to conflicts in Africa and the value of food — that all boil down to celebrating and learning from the struggles and triumphs of people.
They’ll be screening at Rollins College, the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center in Maitland, First Congregational Church of Winter Park, the Orlando Science Center and other Orlando venues.
“Our mission is to use the power of the motion picture to help create peace on Earth, to engage people to do something in their own lives, to do something positive,” Nina Streich, the Festival’s executive director, said.
Streich said the strong focus on a specific mission and vision — peace — is what sets the festival apart from others and makes it so influential on the community.
“There’s power in that; things can happen,” said Sylvia Caminer, a Deland filmmaker featured in the fest. “The story is the star.”
And things do happen, Streich said. Viewers have left Caminer’s peace pitch — before even seeing her film — and have gone to Tanzania, where her documentary film “Tanzania: A Friendship Journey” takes place.
Students at Rollins College and Timber Creek High School in East Orlando have started projects based on film topics, and others have become star volunteers in local organizations. Streich said that’s what the festival is all about.
“At other festivals, going is the end of your experience, at the Global Peace Film Festival it’s the beginning of your experience; it’s the start of something,” Streich said.
Most of the films have that motive, too. Many propose a problem and then end with a call to action of sorts. They give viewers a way to help contribute to the solution.
Caminer’s film points viewers to a charity to help. University of Central Florida student Aleksey Siman’s film “Food for Granted” asks viewers to cherish their food and to challenge the restaurant industry to donate rather than waste leftover food.
Lisa Tillmann, a Rollins College professor and the filmmaker behind “Off the Menu” along with 24 of her students, hopes her viewers will consider how they relate to their bodies and food and make changes toward a healthier relationship between the two.
There’s an opportunity to talk to filmmakers after the screening, for sure in the case with all the local filmmakers mentioned. There will also be panels to discuss the topics addressed in the films, including what peace actually is, how everyone has the potential to make a difference and how and why filmmakers choose peace as a theme. All that adds to inspiring the films’ audiences to make their own versions of change, Streich said.
“My favorite part is seeing somebody inspired by something, seeing somebody changing,” she said. “It’s that moment of change that I think is so exciting.”
Visit www.peacefilmfest.org for more information about the festival, to buy tickets and to see a full film schedule. There is a street fair and Pet Parade for Peace from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 on Morse Boulevard between Park Avenue and Knowles Avenue. Bring your furry companions to participate in a half-mile procession.
Before asking for change, though, viewers are educated by the films. Tillmann, a critical media and cultural studies professor at Rollins College, said that even from films on topics she feels she’s very informed on, she finds she still gains new knowledge and insights and believes others will too.
“I find myself taking away knowledge and having my consciousness raised about social issues,” Tillmann said. “Their world is going to get rocked, their foundation is shaken.”
And sometimes feeling enlightened is the best way to illicit motivation in people. The films, sometimes uplifting, sometimes angering, almost always make viewers feel like there really is hope for peace, said Joe Siry, an environmental studies professor at Rollins College. “I think it reinforces some positive things about being human,” he said.
“That’s the human way of doing things … when you care, you make changes,” filmmaker Aleksey Siman said.