ORLANDO — There are a lot of ways to promote the concepts of peace, harmony and brotherhood, but for Nina Streich, one of the most interesting and invigorating ways is to showcase the films that filmmakers had made that advance these concepts.
That’s exactly what the Global Peace Film Festival has been doing for nearly a decade, and is doing once again this weekend at the Plaza Cinema Cafe in downtown Orlando.
“We had our first film festival in 2003, so this is our 9th festival,” said Streich, the executive director of the annual event. “It started, really, as a response to the war in Iraq, but as a way to create a positive response. There are positive ways to get across your message.”
The organizers of this event decided on a film festival that brings in films, many of them documentaries, that advance the cause.
“They have to be peace-related in some way, shape or form,” Streich said. “The concept of peace is incredibly broad and wide ranging. We have a film this year called ‘The End of the Line,’ about the problem of overfishing. Some of it is just understanding other cultures. Some of it is environmentally based. We have films on all kinds of subjects. Last year we had a film about Hospice volunteers, and people asked, how does that fit in with peace? It deals with reconciling life at the end of your life.”
What the films share, she said, is a passion about the subjects they focus on, and a desire to in some way have an impact, and make a difference, in the lives of others. The goal of these films is not simply to entertain — although many of them will do just that, Streich said. In many instances, she said, these documentaries prove to be deeply moving to audiences.
“We have a wide variety of films, and most are documentaries, but we also look for films that are light and funny,” she said. “The films are always new, and it’s always by different people.”
As part of the festival, there is also an ongoing K-12 Peace Art Exhibit in the Rotunda at Orlando’s City Hall.
It’s also possible to support the festival by shopping on www.Amazon.com. Click on any of the links on www.peacefilmfest.org and a percentage of your purchase will support the GPFF.
Streich said the festival is growing, and has started developing local partnerships as well.
“This year we have a new partnership with Valencia Community College,” she said. “Valencia approached us, and that’s a new partnership, and that went very well.
“We also have a new partnership with the Holocaust Memorial & Resource Education Center,” she said. “That’s a new collaborative effort, and they will be showing films there on Sunday.”
The Holocaust Memorial & Resource Education Center is at 851 N. Maitland Ave. in Maitland.
Streich, who lives in New York City, said it’s always fascinating to interact with audiences in Orlando.
“There’s a very large number of people who come to the festival who are very passionate about it and come back for film after film,” she said. “It’s a very different audience than a New York audience would be. It’s a very interesting place to hold a festival. I like doing things that are not the norm, and so I find this to be a really … on one hand challenging, and on the other hand intriguing, place to hold a film festival.”
Other locations for screenings include the Gallery at Avalon island, 39 S. Magnolia Ave.,; Bush Aditorium and SunTrust Auditorium at Rollins College in Winter Park; and the First Congregational Church, 225 S. Interlachen Ave., Winter Park.
There will be a special screening and panel at 1 p.m. today at the Orlando Science Center, 777 E. Princeton St.
The festival will have 20 different screenings today, and nine screenings on Sunday, the final day. Streich said there are filmmakers attending the festival from Australia, England, and Egypt.
“There’s a filmmaker here from the Bay area (in California), and whose film is about Egypt and the story about the revolution,” she said. “It’s a film he shot earlier this year, capturing the voices of people involved in the revolution. He’s an Egyptian-American who brought us his film.”
There are also local filmmakers with films showing at the festival, Streich added, and she noted that even though the festival ends tomorrow, the screenings do not.
“We are ongoing,” she said. “We also have a monthly screening at Urban Rethink on the first Sunday of each month.”
Urban ReThink is at 625 E. Central Boulevard in downtown Orlando.
“As much as possible, we try to find local works so the filmmaker can be there to have a dialogue with the audience,” she said. “We’ve had fabulous turnout.”
For more information, log onto visit www.peacefilmfest.org or call 407-224-6625.
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