Oscar wins and Peace on Earth Film Festival offers unique films

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, who plays Juan, teaches Alex Hibbert, who plays Black, how to swim in “Moonlight,” which won an Oscar for the Best Picture of 2016. Juan’s performance as a drug dealer and unlikely father figure in the film, and his connection to Black, was tremendous and life changing for Black, who had a hard time growing up gay, Black and poor in Liberty City, Miami.

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader

I would first like to acknowledge the Oscar wins that I think truly deserve mentioning. Viola Davis’ win for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Rose Maxson in “Fences” was just incredible. I read on Indiewire.com that when deciding to throw their performances in the “Oscar pot,” it was better for Davis to go for the Best Supporting Actress win, as opposed to the Best Actress category. Her great acting, again, was rewarded with the golden statue. I was pleased, as well, that the clip shown during the presentation showed Davis in a great scene, other than the snot-nosed, emotional exchange where she’s reminding her co-star and director of the film, Denzel Washington, about how her time in their marriage had been hard on her, as well.

Mahershala Ali’s win for Best Supporting Actor in the runaway hit “Moonlight” was well earned. Even though he wasn’t in the movie for a very long time, his presence was felt, as he nurtured the character upon which the movie was based. Ali’s and Davis’ speeches were just incredible.

And finally, the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay wins for “Moonlight” were great highlights to a long television production. Moonlight’s director and co-screenwriter Barry Jenkins is known for his indie film “Medicine for Melancholy.” The other screenwriter is Chicago’s Steppenwolf’s Tarell Alvin McCraney. Both men were born in Miami, and the film focused on aspects of their lives growing up in the area there known as Liberty City.

As all Chicagoans probably know by now, the greatest moment of the Oscar presentations came when trending Twitter “hashtag” #GaryfromChicago and his fiancée, Vickie Vines, arrived with others on a tour bus into the theater, and Gary Alan Coe stole the show.

Now to other film news.

Peace on Earth Film Festival 

New films about social justice and human rights for the advancement of world peace to be presented at the Peace On Earth Film Festival will be held from March 10-12 at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave.

The opening night’s films address prison reform with one behind-the-scenes documentary and one drama by award-winning director John Hancock, starring Nike Nolte.

Other films include Sharon Stone’s conversation with Skokie resident and Holocaust survivor Sam Harris and a documentary about the Onondaga Nation waging a battle with the U.S. government for its land in central New York, among others.

The Peace on Earth Film Festival’s mission is to raise awareness of peace, nonviolence, social justice, and an eco-balanced world by encouraging citizens to care about the world and providing insight into what they can do to impact their communities.

The 2017 festival welcomes 33 independent films from 16 countries, including Belgium, Greece, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Israel, Afghanistan and Costa Rica. Included will be short dramas, documentaries and narratives that address issues society currently faces. There will be Q&A’s as well a Peacemakers’ Panel and Filmmakers’ Panel that will enable attendees to listen to or interact with filmmakers who have experienced these problems first hand. There also will be a special block of films by student filmmakers.

“The U.S. is fractured and torn apart more than ever, and this year’s festival is an opportunity for people interested in social causes to join the movement, or learn about current issues and meet the people who can articulate what these issues really are about,” said Nick Angotti, founder and director, Peace on Earth Festival. “Nothing inflames the heart as much as films. By presenting a program of multifaceted films, POEFF focuses on reshaping attitudes, encouraging and high-

lighting nonviolent practices, and opening minds to communication, consideration, tolerance and understanding.”

WBEZ’s host of Worldview, Jerome McDonnell, is Opening Nights Master of Ceremonies. The night includes special screenings of “Weeds” and “Beyond the Wall,” both of which address life in-and-out of prison and the challenges former inmates face inside and outside.

“Weeds” is a fictional drama starring Nick Nolte and directed by John Hancock. After its screening, there will be a conversation with Hancock, the film’s co-writer Dorothy Tristan and “Weeds” co-star Rita Taggart.

That will be followed by “Beyond the Wall,” a real-life, behind-the-scenes documentary that highlights one of the most critical issues in criminal justice reform—the flood of prisoners returning to our streets and communities each year where they face tremendous challenges and barriers. Producer/Director Jenny Phillips and Louie Diaz, a former inmate and one of the film’s subjects, will speak after the screening.

Among the festival’s other films are:

“The Gathering: Witness to Innocence,” the largest organization of death row exonerees in the country hosts its annual gathering for former death row inmates to share their thoughts, feelings, fears and dreams. Featured in this documentary is Chicago’s Nathson “Nate” Fields, who is fighting a wrongful conviction. An Illinois jury recently awarded him $22 million, but the state is appealing it.

“Paying for the Price of Peace,” Vietnam veteran S. Brian Wilson pays the price after calling attention to the U.S. government’s defiance of international law. Director Paul Haggis called the film “inspiring as it is shocking.”

“Mary Mother,” an Afghanistan mother searches for her military son who has fallen into the hands of the Taliban.

“Jarvis Rockwell,” Norman Rockwell’s oldest son, embarks on a journey of self and through his art finds a way to love his often-difficult famous father.

Tickets are $10 for individual screenings. Opening Night tickets are $25. Weekend packages are $165. Short film packages (three to four films) are $15. Tickets for the Student Filmmaker Showcase are $7. Discounts are available for seniors and students. The Peacemaker and Filmmakers Panels and awards ceremony March 12 (as of the writing of this column) were free and open to the public.

See www.musicboxtheater.com for full ticket pricing and to purchase tickets.

 

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