By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, MSJ, Chicago Crusader
The Peace on Earth Film Festival, presented by Transcendence Global Media, announces its official film selection. The films will be shown during the 8th Annual Peace on Earth Film Festival
(POEFF) at the historic Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater, running from Thursday, March 3, through Sunday, March 6, 2016.
POEFF celebrates and supports independent filmmakers and their work from around the world on the themes of peace, nonviolence, social justice and eco-balance. The festival, which is free and open to the public, gives attendees the unique opportunity to see 26 films from 11 different countries that often are unavailable to see anywhere else. The movies showcased in the festival tell real-life stories and events that happened or are currently occurring locally as well as globally. During the festival, attendees also have the opportunity to interact with the filmmakers and to discuss ideas, actions and solutions that can advance peace.
Jerome McDonnell, WBEZ radio’s Worldview reporter, will be the master of ceremony opening night. The festival also features filmmaker and peacemaker panel discussions, Q&As with attending filmmakers, student films showcased, and a closing night awards ceremony where exhibiting filmmakers are honored.
“Many of the films in this year’s festival run parallel to what is currently happening here in Chicago as well as around the world, including concerns for housing in separate quarters for Syrian refugees and preserving the dignity of women and children who often are considered substandard citizens and abused in certain areas of the world,” said Nick Angotti, Director, Peace on Earth Festival. “One of the purposes of this festival is to bring to light films that are often challenged to find exhibition and to contribute to a culture of peace through international cinema, dialogue and programming highlighting individuals on the vanguard of peace activism and social change.”
There is a great mix of films, and a few that I was able to pre-screen were great vehicles for relaying messages of peace and a greater understanding and cohesiveness among humanity.
The Lives We Stand For is a 13-minute short that was produced in the United States and shot in Chicago. It is directed by Scott Brown, Morgan Jackson and Zahra Haider, and I appreciated it more because I knew some of the main players in the film. The Lives We Stand For highlights the national outcry in America that is growing around police brutality and the murder of innocents. Twenty-five-year-old Chicago revolutionary David “Iggyflow” Rucker takes a stand against a corrupt justice system, and on his way he becomes acquainted with the Revolution Club, Grant Newburger and the Revolution Books, which is located on the North Side.
The film includes footage of Rekia Boyd’s case and the shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina. MSNBC Commentator Melissa Harris-Perry shares the startling statistic that between 2006 and 2012, a white police officer killed a Black person at least twice a week in this country.
The film also shows rallies of resistance downtown, with hundreds of young faces, railing against what has become all too common in Chicago and across the nation—the disrespect and blatant murder of Black youth.
Sketch, which was filmed in the United States and directed by Stephen T. Barton, is a 21-minute short narrative that addresses the issue of autism in such a clever and endearing manner. Michael is a 12-year-old boy with autism, and because of his diagnosis, he endures ridicule and rejection from kids in school and his impoverished community. However, he puts his curse to work and creates beautiful art with intricate sketches of scenes he sees in his violent world, and the lives of people he doesn’t even know change in profound and significant ways.
I enjoyed this film, because Michael is a soul looking for understanding, but he can also be mischievous. It is this mischief that causes him to be involved in a crime, but in a good way where he is able to help police officers catch a man who has kidnapped a couple of women. Michael does this through his paintings, and he wants nothing in return. He is just content with having been able to help a society that hasn’t been too kind to him.
To get into an even deeper subject, The Negative Effects of Female Genital Mutilation is a seven-minute documentary that was filmed in the United States by director Arnelle Johnson. The synopsis is as follows: Worldwide, 30 million girls and women in 29 known countries in the Middle East and Africa are at risk of one of four types of female genital mutilation. The film’s message is to help people understand why this happens and how they can take a stand and change this practice. This film is youth produced with Free Spirit Media.
I wrote about this issue more than 20 years ago while studying journalism at Roosevelt University. The main message in this documentary is that some inroads are finally being made to help stop what is often a barbaric ritual that causes physical and psychological pain for young girls. In some countries, FGM has been criminalized, and it is meant to help young women who have had no choice in the matter, and not necessarily to halt what has been known as a religious or cultural practice.
Other movies include:
Good Business; Country: South Africa (Short Doc, 25 min); Director: Rob Schermbrucker. Synopsis: What role can business play in transforming a society? By exploring the story of Raymond Ackerman (founder of a South African retail giant Pick n Pay), we encounter the power that love, forgiveness and compassion can have in overcoming the injustice, prejudice and hatred of the apartheid era in South Africa.
A New Color: The Art of Being Edythe Boone; Country: USA (Short Doc, 66 min); Director: Marlene “Mo” Morris. Synopsis: Long before “black lives matter” became a rallying cry, Edythe Boone embodied that truth as an artist, an educator, and a great-grandmother. When a deeply personal tragedy ignites a national outcry, everything that Edy has worked for comes into question. “A New Color” illuminates the social issues of our time and shows how the work of one woman reverberates throughout a community to inspire a powerful chorus
The Peace Exchange / “HACIA ADELANTE; Country: USA (Short Doc, 17 min); Director: Chad Rispalje. Synopsis: “The Peace Exchange” focuses on young Chicago leaders, called Peace Builders, committed to peace and nonviolence, and their two-week trip to Nicaragua in a cross-cultural exchange with community organizers, students leaders, and peace activists, all designed to build relationships that enable them to lead, educate, mentor, and nurture peace in their communities.
About the Peace on Earth Film Festival
Now in its eighth year, Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF), the primary project of Transcendence Global Media, NFP, is a not-for-profit festival established to celebrate and encourage the work of independent filmmakers from around the world on the themes of peace, nonviolence, social justice and eco-balance. POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families, and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness, into the light of communication, consideration, tolerance and understanding. For more information about other films and a complete schedule, visit www.peaceonearthfilmfestival.org