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2018 Peace on Earth Film Festival

March 6, 2018

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Another weekend, another film festival in Chicago. I try not to complete at the Windy City’s plethora of riches when it comes to celebrating and embracing film, but it feels like a film enthusiast can barely catch his/her breath. As a critic, it’s a daunting task to try to cover it all and each festival will have films of interest.  Sometimes the only thing to do is just get the word out about them, which is what I’m doing here with Chicago’s Peace on Earth Film Festival. The festival has a specific focus – promoting civic awareness, global engagement, discussions and ultimately, a positive social change – and this year celebrates its 10th year anniversary from March 9th through 11th at the newly-renovated Davis Theater, located in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. 

This year’s festival features thirty-five international films from 6 continents and 12 countries, focusing on common problems, opportunities for solutions and demonstrative change. In total, 35 powerful and courageous films will in a packed weekend that’s sure to be a treat.

“Film at its essence must tap into our feeling-nature to render its complete narrative,” states Executive Director Nick Angotti, “so we seek stories that are relevant, vital and personal; films current, honed and worthy of attention, as a foundation for significant dialogue for building bridges across Chicago’s diverse communities.”

The festival provides a special connection between filmmakers and the audience with panels and Q&As, and an all-free special education outreach, Student Voices for Peace, providing Chicago school students a perspective on world issues that reflect conditions currently challenging them in their community – and with an open dialogue so they can play their part in creating peace in their neighborhoods. WBEZ’s host of Worldview, Jerome McDonnell will once again host Opening Night which has a focus on restorative justice, prison reform and of the horror by dissidents in Iran.

Angotti recaps on the 10 year anniversary: “Our festival is based on respecting the dignity of all life, providing safe space where people stimulated by excellent films and filmmakers can discuss serious issues that concern us all. When we embrace our common humanity, we find comfort in taking action together; moving forward toward significant comprehensive change. The Festivals films stimulate dialogue, essential for positive change, a foundation for enduring peace.”

The films range greatly in length and  following is a list of the films, which range greatly in length, featured this year by social issue…

TRUMP

NOT ONE OF US / U.S.A. (director: Bill Jarcho) 9 min – Animation
Sparked by the racist rhetoric and narcissism of Trump, “Not One of Us” is an ominous animated warning about the perils of building walls in the name of greed, hegemony, and xenophobia.

MIDDLE EAST

SEEING THROUGH THE WALL: MEETING OURSELVES IN PALESTINE & ISRAEL / U.S.A., ISRAEL (director: Anne Macksoud) 57 min – Feature Documentary – Rabbi Dov Taylor is host of a trip for American Jew to Israel. the film invites watchers to question their own assumptions and prejudices. To witness life in occupied Palestine. To meet Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. To meet Jewish and Palestinian activists.

THE FIELD / ISRAEL (director: Mordechai Vardi) 73 min – Feature Documentary- Near the Etzion Block intersection between Jerusalem and Hevron Ali Abu Awwad dedicates his family’s field as a Palestinian Center for Non-Violence. Despite his life experience – four years in an Israeli prison, his mother’s five-year sentence, a brother killed by an Israeli soldier – Ali creates ‘Roots’ with local Israeli settlers advancing responsibility and grassroots work to enable — reconciliation.

THE SECRET FATWA /U.S.A. (director: Delnaz Abadi) – 55 min – Feature Documentary – ‘The Secret Fatwa’ uncovers a crime unknown to the world and unique in the history of state crimes. In 1988 the Islamic Republic of Iran in a modern day medieval inquisition and religious purging, sent to death 4,000 political prisoners. Filmmaker, Delnaz Abadi, reaches out to former political prisoners who had fled Iran to uncover this horrific story.

HURRIA / U.S.A. (director: Molly Bolster) 15 min Student Showcase: College
A refugee father struggles to escape with his daughter out of war torn Syria before ISIS fighters attack their camp.

HELPING OTHERS IN IMPOVERISHED COUNTRIES

THE BICYCLE CITY / Nicaragua, U.S.A. (director: Greg Sucharew) 61 min – Feature Documentary – The transformation of a war-torn community with the simple implementation of ‘the bicycle’. After his Peace Corps stint in Ecuador, where only his landlord had a bicycle, David Schweidenback had the bright idea to send used American bicycles to developing world towns as economic development aid. Nicaraguan city of Rivas was the first city to begin receiving used bikes in 1991, and where, with local help, the program has been proven a success, and we see how the bicycle has impacted this developing world town.

MAKE IT WORK: THE LAUNCH / ECUADOR, U.S.A. (director: Kern Konwiser) 30 min – Short Documentary – A neurobiology PhD student seeks to fulfill a childhood dream of bringing state of the art prosthetics to the third world. Made from parts costing less than $50, his robotic hand is indestructible and delivers sensory feedback to the wearer that doesn’t exist in even the most expensive commercial devices. Now he’s ready to take it out of the lab and into the world on “patient #1” – a Muslim spiritual leader thousands of miles away in Ecuador.

UNDERSTANDING AND RESPECTING OTHERS

ON THE WAY UP / U.S.A. (Director: Stuart Heinlein) 22 min – Student Showcase: College
Following her boyfriends attempted suicide, a young woman is forced to reevaluate their relationship, and her future.

ONE MORE KISS / U.S.A. (director: Simon Brand) 6 min – Short Narrative
The emotionally-charged music video visually follows the harrowing narrative of one family’s undocumented journey and their sudden, tragic separation. The visual is a tribute to fellow Latinos – beyond any border. It’s an emotional narrative and only one of thousands of stories lived daily in the US. Deported Immigrants. The music is from Mexican-American 2017 Grammy Award Winning musicians and siblings, “Jessy & Joy.”

SAWUBONA / U.S.A. (director: Lungelo Kuzwayo) 10 min – Student Showcase: College
Just following the end of Apartied, young South African, Mbali, a charming and adventurous 7-year-old defies the norm by making a new friend; and she sparks a journey of transformation.

SEARCHING SKIES / U.S.A. (director: Vivian Hua) 9 min – Student Showcase: College
When a Syrian refugee family is invited to a Christian family’s house for Christmas dinner, they are caught between opposing viewpoints for and against them — until an unexpected event suddenly occurs.

TRANSFORMING VIOLENCE AND HATRED INTO PEACE

FROM INDIA WITH LOVE / U.S.A., INDIA (Director: Mandar Apte) 45 min – Short Documentary – Six Americans from varied backgrounds — a single mother whose son was murdered in a tragic school shooting (from Sandy Hook) and her friend (from Atlanta), an ex-gang leader (from Los Angeles), an educator (from Newark), and two advocates of the Movement for Black Lives (Oakland) — who have all experienced violence come together for a shared experience of healing and transformation during a 10-day pilgrimage to India, following the intention behind Rev. Martin Luther King, nearly sixty years ago. What will they discover in India that can help reinvigorate nonviolence in America today?

CIRCLE UP / U.S.A. (director: Julie Mallozzi) 67 min – Feature Documentary
After the brutal slaying of her teenage son, Janet Connors reaches out to her son’s killer to offer a chance for forgiveness. They team up with a group of mothers of murdered children to help young people in their community break the chain of violence and revenge. “If I look at them as monsters I let them off the hook.” [However], “if I look at them in humanity, then I hold them accountable.” J. Connors.

KEEP BELIEVING / Netherlands (director: Wouter de Kuijper) 52 min – Feature Documentary – Frans Baartmans left his comfortable home in The Netherlands to live amongst the Dalits – the “untouchables” of India”: a group of people who are being discriminated, suppressed, exploited, beaten and raped on a daily basis. Devoting a great deal of his life, Frans fights the powers that be on a daily basis, aiming for equality, acknowledgement and dignity; simply because he cannot stand injustice. But what else lies underneath this man’s noble work?

ART OF COURAGE / U.S.A., FRANCE (director: Veronica Duport Deliz) 22 min – Short Documentary – Two internationally renowned artists prepare their canvas for an aerial art exhibition during the International Climate Summit in Paris 2015. As the momentum builds, an unexpected, large-scale terrorist attack in Paris shuts down the entire city. Paris is under a state of emergency and no large gatherings in public places are allowed. “If everyone is so afraid to gather in the streets and say what they want, how do you move society along under the visual”? John Quigley.

US THEREAFTER / U.S.A. (director: Terry Beck) 8 min – Student Showcase: College
After the brutal killing of his daughter in 2013, Buck Blodgett shares her story and his subsequent turn to activism to end male-on-female violence.

SHELL / ISRAEL (director: Hagal Adorian) 23 min – Student Showcase: College
Ariel, a young veteran combat medic, is unable to the dispel terrible images of war that keep replaying themselves in his head. He drives aimlessly around the countryside, eating and sleeping in his banged-up car. A film that pays tribute to the subtlety and damage of PTSD without a single shot being fired.

CLIMATE CHANGE/THE ENVIRONMENT

ANCESTORS WE HEAR YOU / U.S.A. (director: Patty Collins) 24 min – Short Documentary – If our planet and all living beings are to survive, we must transform our thoughts and behavior, and live in reciprocity with one another, and all creation. We can change the current paradigm of power and control over people, land, water, and religion. We can restore and mend our relationship with one another and all creation. Spiritual tribal elders. Ancestor Thomas Banyacya (Hopi), Jorge Luis Delgado (Inca), Richard Moves Camp (Lakota), Rosanna Kagenveama (Hopi), and Leon Rattler (Blackfeet), remind us all that our thoughts, prayers, and behavior affect all creation.

BEYOND FORDLANDIA / Brazil (director: Marcos Colon) 82 min – Feature Documentary – An environmental account of ninety years after Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Companies’ attempt to establish rubber plantations on the Tapajós River, a primary tributary of the Amazon. The film further addresses the recent transition from failed rubber to successful soybean cultivation for export, and its implication for land usage, the impact on the Amazon and its people, and the insidious actions of corporations in defiance of court orders.

STELLA POLARIS ULLORIARSUAQ / Germany, Greenland (director Yatri N. Niehaus) 82 min – Feature Documentary- Stella Polaris Ulloriarsuaq’ takes us on a cinematic meditation on the fast changes of our planet, constantly evolving around the Pole Star. The history of the world has been settling on the Greenlandic ice sheet for millions of years. Massive glaciers constantly unearth long gone states of the planet. The Kalaallit people have been inseparably connected to the eternal ice for millennia. In just a few short years, colonialism dramatically transitioned their culture to a modern life style, and the foundation of their traditions is literally melting beneath their feet.

A CRUDE INJUSTICE / AUSTRALIA (director: Jane Hammond) 27 min – Short Documentary – On August 21, 2009 a blowout in the Montara oilfield, off the West Australian coast, caused millions of liters of crude oil to spew into the Timor Sea. The oil continued to pour into the ocean for more than 70 days creating a massive slick that covered an estimated 90,000 square kilometers. Across the sea within a few weeks Seaweed Farmers of West Timor had their industry destroyed and fish stocks crashed. While health issues also plague the farmers the polluting company, PTTEP AA, continue to deny responsibility; and, eight years later there is no resolution.

VOICES NOT HEARD: THE CLIMATE FIGHT OF MALAYSIAN YOUTH / CHINA, U.S.A. (director: Scott Brown) 40 min – Short Documentary – As climate change begins to wreak havoc, especially on the world’s developing nations, a 23-year-old Malaysian activist travels to Paris to represent young people from countries like his at the COP21 climate negotiations. His journey to discover his role as an activist on a global stage, to speak up for the underrepresented Global South, and to continue fighting now in the face of U.S. President Trump’s abandonment of the Paris Agreement, provides insight into the world of international climate negotiations and activism that is rarely reported to the public.

THE ARCADE CREEK PROJECT: A MOSAIC OF SUSTAINABILITY / U.S.A. (Director: Jierel Almario) 30 min Student Showcase: High School – The story of a small, deteriorated creek and one group of high schoolers and their teachers and advisor efforts to bring it back to its natural beauty from over a hundred years ago.

STANDING ROCK/PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT

STANDING ROCK TAKE ME FROM THE RIVER / U.S.A. (director: Denny Rauen) 29 min – Short Documentary – For many citizens a line had been crossed leading to thousands from across the political spectrum to travel to Standing Rock to say STOP! The film follows the experience of a few of those citizens. The journey into water protecting documents the Standing Rock Sioux struggle in North Dakota to protect their water and sacred sites based on Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 and 1868. The film gives you a glimpse into our future, and current struggle with oil and government interests set on profit over indigenous rights and threats to the environment.

PEACEKEEPER / U.S.A. (director: Nicholas Markart) 13 min – Student Showcase: College
Native Americans from Standing Rock speak out on the pipeline, the repetition of history, and their roles as water-protectors in a struggle for modern sovereignty.

PRISON AND REFORM

PERCEPTION: FROM PRISON TO PURPOSE /U.S.A. (director: Garrett Guinn) 40 min – Short Documentary – On April 14th, 2009, Noah Schultz was arrested for attempted murder in Portland, Oregon. This is the story of his transformation. During his seven years of incarceration, Noah took advantage of every program, workshop and educational service provided. He pushed himself not only to be better, but to challenge our perceptions of what it means to be an inmate. From gang member and drug dealer, to college grad, author, and TEDx speaker, Noah’s determination and spirit have launched him to success; and he continues to advocate for programs in youth correctional facilities, and has inspired countless other inmates to follow similar paths. Noah hopes to achieve reform of our prison systems nation’s widespread and how we perceive inmates and ex-cons.

THE OFFICERS / U.S.A. (director: Alec Silberblatt) 14 min – Short Narrative
The seemingly ordinary lives of Derrick and Ray, two undercover cops in Pittsburgh, PA. Derrick used to work on a farm and Ray’s mom is a cancer survivor. Follow the two of them through the American legal system after an incident of their brutality of a Black male unjustly stopped and assaulted.

PEACE IN THE FAMILY

PAPERROCK / ISRAEL (director: Hillel Rate) 11 min – Student Showcase: College
An ultra-Orthodox young Jewish woman agrees to meet her brother, whom she has not seen in many years. When she finally lays eyes on him she understands that, if she wants to reestablish the childhood bond between them, she must accept his new gender identity.

THE GIRL / ISRAEL (director: Lihi Sabag) 10 min — Student Showcase: College
Dafna, a social worker, deals with an agonizing decision: is Esti, the single mother of a little girl a fit mother for her child. Her decision could profoundly affect both mother and child, and remove the child to be a ward of the state.

THE GRAVEDIGGER’S DAUGHTER / ISRAEL (director: Shira Gabay) 17 min- Student Showcase: College – Esther’s father was a gravedigger who in his last will and testament left only one significant request: that one of his sons continue with his profession. None of his sons have the slightest interest in doing so. Esther is the only daughter in this traditional ‘Sephardic’ North African home, and embarks upon a struggle to carry on her father’s legacy of humility and kindness over the objections and mores of her family and community.

JASMINE STUNG / INDIA (director: Partho Gupte) 5 min – Student Showcase: High School
Jasmine Stung follows a 10-year-old child worker trying to sell jasmine flower strings on a hot and busy Mumbai street, in the hope of getting his little sister her first meal of the day.

CHILD, BRIDE, MOTHER: NIGERIA / NIGERIA (director: Nichole Sobecki) 10 min – Short Documentary – Young women who were captives of Boko Haram speak of their lives and experiences.

CHICAGO

SULLIVAN / U.S.A. (director: Anthony Pellino) 6 min –  Special Screening
Sullivan High School is located in Rogers Park, a Far North Side neighborhood of Chicago, and home to thousands of refugees, asylum-seekers and immigrants. “Sullivan” follows the school’s boys’ soccer team, which reflects that diversity, fusing players from all over the world into a cohesive unit.

CHICAGO CRED: PULLMAN PILOT / U.S.A (produced and directed by: Free Spirit Media PRO) 4 min – Student Showcase: High School – The Chicago CRED Pullman Pilot recruited 28 young men ranging in age from 18 to 24 to change their neighborhood and their lives. Two weeks of community building, employment readiness and Life Coaching lead to several months of transitional employment, deconstructing abandoned historic homes and beautifying streets in Pullman.

WHY IS THERE SO MUCH GUN VIOLENCE? / U.S.A. (produced and directed by: Free Spirit Media) 13 min – Student Showcase: High School – After being shot three times in both of his legs, and having lost his uncle, cousin and god brother to gun violence, Amarion fights back with his senior project-documentary film addressing the issue of gun violence in his neighborhood and in his city of Chicago.

THE PEACE EXCHANGE- INDIA / U.S.A. (directed by Free Spirit Media PRO) 16 min- Student Showcase: High School – Through education, transformational travel, and outreach to youth, The Peace Exchange prepare young Chicagoans to be leaders, role models, mentors, and peacemakers. The Peace Exchange – India, the fourth iteration of Peace Building Travel to areas of the world that can provide a foundation of peace consciousness for Chicago youth from neighborhoods of expressed violence, affording study and experience to young emerging Peace Builders for a better world.

Tickets

Tickets are $9 for individual screenings. Opening Night package is $22. Weekend packages are $85. Short film packages (three to four shorts) are $10. Tickets for the Student Filmmaker Showcase are $6. Discounts are available for seniors and students. The Peacemaker and Filmmakers Panels and awards ceremony (March 11 at 8:30 pm) are free and open to the public.

See http://www.peaceonearthfilmfestival.org for full ticket pricing and to purchase tickets.

About the Peace on Earth Film Festival

Transcendence Global Media (TGM) NFP, the parent company of the Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF), was organized to develop and sustain the POEFF.

TGM’s mission is to foster change in public discourse by building alternatives to violence while demonstrating progressive steps toward social justice and an eco-balanced world. The POEFF fulfills that mission by presenting films, discussion panels and outreach programming which highlight such efforts both locally and worldwide.

Established in 2008, POEFF is an annual event shining a light on filmmakers’ challenging perspectives regarding issues such as human rights, neighborhood violence, domestic violence, bullying, war, world politics, prison reform, environment, economics and more. The festival strives to put Chicago at the forefront of international efforts for peace and environmental recoveries while bringing together filmmakers, academics and social activists in discussion panels and educational components. Learn more at http://www.peaceonearthfilmfestival.org/

(The information courtesy of Garnier Public Relations)

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