18th Annual Global Peace Film Festival Goes Virtual
Amid pandemic, GPFF plans to deliver a robust program with online feature film screenings, virtual panel discussions and art exhibits
ORLANDO, Fla. — As the prospects for a traditional film festival grew dim earlier this year when the COVID-19 pandemic took a worldwide hold, organizers of the 18th annual Global Peace Film Festival (GPFF) were quick to adapt for the safety of its audiences and special guests. In this very different, challenging and tragic year, GPFF has pivoted to deliver a robust program that includes thought-provoking films and art exhibits for people all over the world to enjoy from the comfort and safety of their homes, as well as a limited number of in-person events at which people can be safely distanced.
In years past, this unique festival has brought filmmakers and filmgoers from all walks of life to Central Florida, inspiring them to take action in their daily lives and to leave the world a more peaceful place than they found it. GPFF now aims to continue this tradition virtually through online feature film screenings, virtual panel discussions and art exhibits.
Starting on the International Day of Peace, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, a selection of more than 20 feature films will be available for screening for just $5 each. These films highlight themes such as civil rights, environmental justice, ethics, human rights, immigration, LGBTQ+, music, social justice, voting, wellness and wildlife. For an even greater value, a White Dove pass, which provides access to all films, is available for $100, a savings of $15.
With the virtual festival opening on the International Day of Peace, a film that speaks to the importance of that day is The Third Harmony (USA, 2020, 44 minutes). It aims to bring the ancient art of nonviolence into the mainstream of public consciousness by telling the story of the greatest overlooked resource in human experience.
In this election year, the program includes Birddog Nation (USA, 2020, 60 minutes), timely for the U.S. election, which follows the fearless activists who helped flip the House in 2018, and Swing State Florida (USA, 2019, 90 minutes) mixes intimate portraits with expert commentary to showcase the struggles replicated in swing stages across the country and give a vision of Florida in the run-up to the 2020 election.
The universal language of music is explored in Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story (UK, 2019, 63 minutes), where audiences will see the protagonist commit his life and music to screen for the first time while Mantra: Sounds into Silence (Spain, 2017, 85 minutes) shows how effective harmonious sounds can be in our noisy world of nonstop communication. 16 Bars (USA, 2018, 94 minutes) offers a rare glimpse at the human stories and songs that are locked away in our nation’s jails and prisons, taking the viewer into a Virginia jail’s makeshift recording studio, where four men collaborate on an album with Grammy-winning recording artist Todd “Speech” Thomas, of the hip hop group Arrested Development.
Environmental films include Our Gorongosa (Mozambique, 2019, 60 minutes) that introduces the audience to a young African woman elephant ecologist who shares the inspiring story of how Gorongosa is becoming a new model for wildlife conservation and community development, and Sockeye Salmon. Red Fish (Russian Federation, 2020, 51 minutes) follows the wild sockeye salmon as it returns to its breeding grounds to complete its life cycle where the biggest threats are not the hungry bears lining the streams.
A trio of films about Costa Rica features Lifting the Green Screen (USA, 2020, 90 minutes) is an ethnographic documentary that showcases the everyday complexity of conservation in practice in Costa Rica’s biodiversity hotspot, the Osa Peninsula, Sweet Home Monteverde (USA, 2020, 57 minutes) traces the spiritual and geographical journey of an intrepid group of Americans who leave the U.S. in 1950 in search of a life of pacifism, and Peace With Nature in Costa Rica (USA, 2019, 50 minutes) about how Costa Rica restored its forests while providing employment and financial security for its people.
Films about activism include A Concerned Citizen: Civics in Action (USA, 2019, 40 minutes) in which Dr. Riki Ott, renowned marine toxicologist, creates a civics course to help young activists become effective and Waging Change (USA, 2019, 61 minutes) that shines a spotlight on the challenges faced by restaurant workers trying to feed themselves and their families off tips. Featuring Saru Jayaraman, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the film reveals American workers’ struggles hidden in plain sight. The Vow from Hiroshima (USA, 2019, 82 minutes) is an intimate portrait of a passionate 85-year-old survivor of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Setsuko Thurlow was miraculously pulled out of a fiery building but was unable to save her 27 classmates who were burned to death after the blast. She made to her friends: that no one should ever again experience the same horrible fate.
The Great Disconnect (Cayman Islands, 2019, 87 minutes) follows wellness expert Tamer Soliman who posits that we as a society, are isolating ourselves from one another, and because of this, facing a health crisis that affects all ages, genders, races and cultures.
Stories from around the world include Comrade Dov (Israel, 2019, 75 minutes) that examines the open wounds of contemporary Israeli society through a surprising and thought-provoking portrait of a unique politician.
The Reformist (Denmark, 2019, 90 minutes) tells the story of Sherin Khankan, who wants to open one of the first mosques in Europe led by female imams. And scientists and humanitarians combine rigorous research and compassion to heal young Syrian refugees scarred by the devastating stress of war in Terror and Hope: The Silence of Resilience (USA, 2019, 39 minutes).
Day One (USA, 2019, 81 minutes) follows a group of teenage refugees from war-torn countries who are enrolled at a unique public school for refugees and immigrants in St. Louis, where they are guided through an inspirational program of education, healing and trauma intervention by devoted educators, some of whom have chosen to relocate to the inner city to support their students.
Elder Voices (USA, 2019, 49 minutes) tells the stories of Japanese Americans, European Jews and conscientious objectors who came of age during the perilous times of the Great Depression and World War II. Residing together in a retirement community, they continue to live and share the values and principles grounded in the lessons that were forged in their youth, confronted with anti-Semitism, internment camps and bigotry.
Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses (USA, 2019, 41 minutes), drawing parallels between the past and present, heroic World War II veterans vividly share their liberation journeys. These powerful eyewitness accounts from Steven Spielberg's USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive®, share a cautionary tale and compelling reminder of what can happen when insidious hatred remains unchecked.
Many of the films will be available worldwide throughout the festival, which runs through Oct. 4 while a few films are only available in the U.S. and North America, and two are available only in Florida. Check the individual film details in the film guide for more information on geographic restrictions and windows of availability.
A separate selection of short films will be available for free to viewers around the world at PeaceFilmFest.org/online-film-festival.
The K-12 Peace Art Exhibit, which has since 2006 annually presented the work of Orange County Public Schools students, will be presented online this year.
BOMBSHELL: Masquerading Warfare, an exhibit to be presented at CityArts, at 39 S. Magnolia Ave. in downtown Orlando, visually surprises viewers with its rebellious, unconventional and elegant creations of gas masks. Avant-garde couture designer Ben Van Beusekom disrupts our perceptions and evokes beauty where once there was horror. In a world filled with chaos, his love of fantasy transforms these apocalyptic protectors into elaborate headpieces designed to titillate the senses. The exhibit highlights these glamorized saviors and recognizes the importance they have played throughout history by adorning them with texture, vivid color and dazzling bejeweling. The exhibit runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 11. CityArts is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Learn more about the exhibit at PeaceFilmFest.org/cityarts.
The films created as part of the MYgration Short Film Contest for FusionFest will be shown at Enzian Theater on Sept. 29, where audience members will vote for their favorite. Tickets for this screening are $10 each. (Virtual festival tickets will not be accepted for this event.) The films will also be shown throughout the weekend of FusionFest (Nov. 28 & 29), where a $1,000 jury prize will be awarded. Learn more at PeaceFilmFest.org/mygration-shorts-enzian.
Tickets for GPFF feature films are $5 each and on sale now at PeaceFilmFest.org/program. Patrons may purchase a $100 White Dove Pass that provides access to all films during the availability window (certain geographic restrictions apply). A 10-Ticket pass can be purchased for the price of eight ($40), and a five-ticket pass can be purchased for the price of four ($20). Passes are available at PeaceFilmFest.org/passes.
The Global Peace Film Festival is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program, in part by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture and the State of Florida, and in part by United Arts of Central Florida, host of OrlandoAtPlay.com and UAArtsEd.com. Other sponsors include Thomas P. Johnson Visiting Scholar and Artist Fund, Rollins College, Valencia College Peace & Justice Institute, MSLCPAs & Advisors, Clear Channel Outdoor, Larimer & Co., Cicero Studios, Orlando Weekly, WPRK 90.5 and WUCF.
About the Global Peace Film Festival
The Global Peace Film Festival, established in 2003, uses the power of the moving image to further the cause of peace on earth. From the outset, the GPFF envisioned “peace” not as the absence of conflict but as a framework for channeling, processing and resolving conflict through respectful and non-violent means. People of good faith have real differences that deserve to be discussed, debated and contested. GPFF works to connect expression – artistic, political, social and personal – to positive, respectful vehicles for action and change. The festival program is carefully curated to create a place for open dialogue, using the films as catalysts for change.
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