It’s been said that film marries the power of ideas with the power of images. That medium will be used to send one message next week to Orlando: peace.
The Global Peace Film Festival will bring together people from all walks of life from Sept. 19 to Sept. 25 to showcase a series of films meant to inspire peace and love throughout the world.
“I’ve always thought of peace as much more than anti-war,” said Executive Director Nina Streich, who created the festival in 2003. “Peace relates to everybody: old, young, rich, poor, all colors, races and genders. Everybody has a different definition of what peace means to them.”
“What I always saw was embracing all of that… We try to create a very diverse program that touches a range of different issues.”
The films focus on everything from the environment to caregiving for seniors, Streich said.
It all starts with the opening reception of a kindergarten through 12th grade peace art exhibit at the Orlando City Hall Rotunda on Sept. 19, followed by screenings of films over the next six days at the Bush Auditorium at Rollins College, the Plaza Cinema Café, the Enzian Theater, the Gallery at Avalon Island, the SunTrust Auditorium at Rollins College, Valencia College West, Valencia College Winter Park, and the Winter Park Public Library.
Streich said this year’s festival will have a different approach with less films – 29 compared to last year’s 57. This will allow the festival to spend more time analyzing and discussing each film, while making the viewing experience more centralized, she said.
The 2016 festival will also take time to focus on the recent Pulse shooting and the gay community. The festival’s opening film at the Enzian Theater on Sept. 20 is “Love is Strange,” a film starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina about a gay couple who get married and how their lives change around them as a result.
“We did a lot of the programming with an eye to healing after Pulse,” Streich said. “This is our 14th year, we’ve been talking about peace all that time. Peace is about healing and the impact of something like that, so we really look deeply at how we could contribute to the dialogue that’s been going on.”
The film festival presses on despite the passing of Board of Directors Chairman Ken Carpenter, who succumbed to cancer last month. Carpenter led the charge in recruiting sponsors for the festival and acquiring donations, all while pushing the festival through social media and helping choose the venues where the films would be screened.
He also laid out the festival’s program guide the past two years since he became chairman in 2014.
Carpenter’s wife, Debbie, said that he had been passionate about film ever since his college years. The Global Peace Film Festival allowed him to combine his love for film with his love for people and giving them a voice to bring about positive change, she said.
“Not only was he passionate about film, but he was also compassionate about the needs and the suffering that’s going on in the world,” Debbie said.
“He looked at the Global Peace Film Festival as a catalyst to make that change.”
“He was such a passionate person and such a good person – he would do anything for anybody,” Streich said.
“He loved movies – every kind of film…The ethos of the festival really touched a chord in him.”
Carpenter had big ideas for the future of the festival, some of which will hopefully come to fruition someday, said Streich. This year’s festival will be dedicated to Carpenter.