Films Of War And Peace
UNA Film Festival is organized around respect.
Thursday, November 6, 2003
When Larry Levine heard that Jasmina Bojic of the United Nations Association (UNA) chapter in Palo Alto was putting together a traveling film festival in 1998, he immediately asked that the Monterey Chapter be included. Bojic had launched the festival the prior year with the help of the Stanford Film Society. Levine saw the festival as a way to introduce people to his organization, and to let them know about the good work the United Nations does.
In general, Levine says, the UN gets mostly bad press.
"One of the problems is that when the UN is getting a lot of attention, it''s some sticky situation involving the Security Council," Levine says. "The vast majority of what the UN does is on the humanitarian end, where the UN does great work for refugees, or fighting hunger and AIDS."
The film festival does not directly focus on the work of the UN; instead, filmmakers are asked to submit their work to a panel of judges assembled by the UNA. The local chapter gets around 30 films from their colleagues in Palo Alto, which they view and winnow down.
This year''s installment features the work of two filmmakers who have come full-circle.
On Friday night, the UNAFF presents Hidden Wars of Desert Storm, a 1991 documentary that criticizes US policy leading up to and following the first Gulf War. Levine says the film is powerful and controversial. "I expect most people who see the movie to come away angry," Levine says. "If they agree with the premise of the film, they''ll be angry at the US government. If they disagree, then they''ll be angry at the filmmakers."
On Saturday night, the UNAFF features another movie by the same filmmakers, Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brohy, again about United States war making. This film, Plan Colombia, focuses on a drug war gone awry.
Where Ungerman and Brohy returned to their topic, filmmaker Michael Raeburn returned to his country. Raeburn''s first film, Rhodesia Countdown, was made in 1969, but never shown in Africa until 1980. That movie documented the revolution being fomented at the time by Robert Mugabe, the man who, Levine says, was Raeburn''s hero. Raeburn''s new film returns 33 years later to document Mugabe''s downfall.
The theme of this year''s festival is "Promotion Of Universal Respect," an idea that drives the UN itself.
"The great value of the UN is that it invites nations to talk things through rather than fight things through," Levine says.
The UNAFF takes place in the Irvine Auditorium at the Monterey Institute for International Studies. Admission is free.
UNA Film Festival Schedule
Friday, Nov. 7, 7pm
Hidden Wars of Desert Storm This film asks some provocative questions which have been all but entirely ignored by the popular media, providing an historical outline of the relationship between the United States and Iraq, and the circumstances surrounding the development of the 1991 war. As well as examining Operation Desert Storm itself, the film explores some of the more controversial aspects of longer term US policy toward the Persian Gulf, including "Gulf War Syndrome," and the economic embargo on Iraq. (64 minutes.)
Sadako''s Cranes This is a very short true story of a young Japanese girl who develops leukemia as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and how she folds one thousand paper cranes in the belief that it will save her from death. (Five minutes.) UN Charter (13 minutes.)
Robert Capa in Love and War Hungarian-born Robert Capa became the most significant war photographer of the 20th century for his coverage of five major conflicts on three continents. Created in cooperation with Robert''s brother, Cornell, Robert Capa in Love and War is the first film dedicated entirely to the memory of Capa''s life spent in the front lines, and is a testament to his art and the horrors of war.
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2pm
Discovering Dominga A young housewife in small-town Iowa, Denese Becker began life as a Mayan Indian girl in rural Guatemala. In this film, the emergence of repressed memories leads her to discover that she is a survivor of one of the most horrific genocidal massacres in Guatemalan history. She becomes an activist for justice and peace in her native land. (58 minutes.)
Coming to Say Goodbye: Stories of AIDS in Africa This award-winning documentary is a portrait of a modern plague in the form of stories and interviews with AIDS victims in Kenya and Tanzania, their families, and the African health professionals who treat them. Coming to Say Goodbye explains the connection between the AIDS epidemic, poverty and poor access to healthcare. (30 minutes.)
The Valentine 1955 With deep regrets, one woman remembers a moment of childish prejudice. (Two minutes.)
Empty Oceans, Empty Nets An examination of the global fisheries'' crisis and the forces that are driving the extinction of certain species, Empty Oceans, Empty Nets also documents some of the most innovative work to restore and protect fish habitats, despite an ever-expanding fishing operation. Footage is from Indonesia, Italy, Senegal and the USA. (55 minutes.)
Saturday, Nov. 8, 7pm
Plan Colombia The makers of Hidden Wars of Desert Storm (See Friday) take a look at the issues of drug-trafficking and civil violence in Colombia, as well as the impact of the U.S. government''s war on drugs. (57 minutes.)
Those Who Trespass This film follows the story of four nuns who are imprisoned for their peaceful protests. (18 minutes.)
The Global Banquet: Politics of Food This film reveals the effects of globalization on small farmers and nations where food is scarce. It also dispels typical misconceptions about genetically modified crops, mass production and factory farming, clarifying these topics for non-specialist understanding. (50 minutes.)
Zimbabwe Countdown A study of Zimbabwean revolutionary Robert Mugabe''s idealistic downfall. Filmmaker Michael Raeburn conducts interviews with writers, artists, politicians and journalists to illustrate the crisis in his native Zimbabwe. (55 minutes.)