FILM: World in Motion
International documentary festival offers global inspiration.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Courage and hope arrive this weekend in the visage of the late Sergio Vierra de Mello, the charismatic UN humanitarian who spearheaded miraculous recoveries in places like post-Khmer Rogue Cambodia and civil-war-stricken Mozambique. The same qualities also appear in the eyes of young Kenyan children as they explain how to comfort fellow kids orphaned by AIDS. And they’re vividly visible in the determination of a Kyrgyz woman who refuses to bow to her countryman’s tradition of kidnapping his bride-to-be.
Best of all, says Jasmina Bojic, Stanford Professor and film critic, and founder of the United Nations Association Film Festival, these affecting accounts of courage and hope are transferable. Bojic hopes that audiences who attend the UNAFF’s free traveling film festival at the Monterey Institute of International Studies this Friday through Sunday will come away inspired.
“Every [viewer] can translate the courage of these people into a wish to find more facts,” she says, “to continue their process of learning. You have to learn before you can act.
“Hope is in the knowledge and the education.”
Individually, each of the 13 films handpicked by the Monterey chapter (from 32 films that the Palo Alto-based UNAFF will show this year) offers a free, in-depth education on issues like human rights and civil war often overlooked by mainstream media.
En Route to Baghdad illuminates all that is right about the UN—qualities exemplified by de Mello. It also lays out problems that threaten the UN’s legacy, and lead to de Mello’s tragic death in Iraq: unclear mandates and suspect security. Speak Luvo Speak Jane shows the AIDS epidemic from a uniquely touching perspective: a camera held by an 8 year old. Bride Kidnapping in Kygyzstan explores love and marriage hatched by abduction.
“They each reflect diverse themes, cultures and moods,” says Larry Levine, president of the UNA’s Monterey Bay chapter. “They’re five minutes to 93 minutes, and form a very eclectic and interesting international film festival.”
As a whole, the films offer striking illustration of this year’s theme, a saying Bojic says she borrowed from a speech UN Secretary General Kofi Annan gave in 2001 as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize: “a statement of hope and courage.”
They also offer us the world—at turns inspiring, at turns troubling, always real. Bojic wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This is life—this is real life,” she says. “Do you have everything in your life perfect? You have to see these things, particularly the young people and the children. Without this knowledge, life is empty and artificial.”
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Here, the whens and whats of a world of moving documentaries as the traveling edition of the eighth UNAFF returns to the site of its first stop ever, Monterey:
friday 11|11 7pm
GOD SLEEPS IN RWANDA | (29 minutes) | By Kimberlee Acquaro and Stacy Sherman in Rwanda and the US
Sweeping genocide in 1994 left a crippled society in its
wake—and one that’s nearly 70 percent female. This film
follows five women as they grapple with lingering grief and
loss and the challenge of rebuilding their lives. Theirs is a
courageous, demanding effort that will forever redefine
women’s roles in Rwanda.
BRIDE KIDNAPPING IN KYRGYZSTAN | (51 minutes) | By Petr Lom in Krgyzstan, the UK and the US
Kyrgyz men snatch their chosen woman from the street, throw
her in a rented car with the help of friends, and hold her
while wedding negotiations with her family begin. Despite a
1994 law that forbids it, one in three rural Kygz women are
still forced into marriage by way of this extreme social
custom. This film talks to the families affected, looks at its
deep cultural roots and analyzes how it will change in an ever
more modern society.
TOO BRIEF A CHILD: VOICES OF MARRIED ADOLESCENTS | (14 minutes) | By Robin Cobyln, Nancy Camp and Andrea Kalin in India, Phillipines and the US
Eighty-two million girls around the globe are married
before they leave adolescence. This is their tale—one of
forced marriage, motherhood and servitude, of lost innocence,
youth and childhood, of the root causes and the cycle of
poverty perpetuated as a result.
OIL ON ICE | (57 minutes) | By Dale Djerassi and Bo Boudart in the US
Increasingly urgent issues like fuel efficiency standards, alternative energy sources, conservation and consumption are explored in an exhaustive and vivid manner in the stunning context of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
saturday 11|12 7pm
SPEAK LUVO SPEAK JANE | (14 min) | By Peter Jordan and the Bernard van Leer Foundation in Kenya, South Africa and the US
From behind a plastic video camera one young child asks
another, “What can you give a kid who has lost his parents?”
The answer that comes in this Umtata, Africa community plagued
by AIDS speaks to the way the epidemic is addressed by
families and their children alike. Eight-year-old Luvo and his
5-year-old sister Jane narrate much of the footage; their
voices linger even longer than the images of their
bright-eyed, orphaned friends.
EN ROUTE TO BAGHDAD | (56 minutes) | By Simone Duarte, Ana Soanes and Kristine Candeso in Brasil, Cambodia, East Timor, Mazambique, North Korea, Iraq and the US
Charismatic visionary Sergio Viera deMello brought light
and development to some of the darkest and disorganized
corners of the globe as one of the highest-ranking but most
down-to-earth diplomats in the United Nations. This film
traces his simply exceptional and inspiring success at
cultivating cooperation and progress in once-demonic and
unstable spots like East Timor, post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia, and
Iraq, where his tragic death highlights critical issues the UN
SOMETHING OTHER THAN OTHER | (7 minutes) | By Jerry A. Henry and Andrea J. Chia in the US
Multi-racial parents and filmmakers Jerry Henry and Andrea
Chia take an innovative, animation-like angle on racial
identity and discrimination by filming the pregnancy of Chia
and her eventual birth of their child Quin on Super 8mm, frame
THE OIL FACTOR BEHIND THE WAR ON TERROR | (93 min) | By Gerard Ungerman and Audrey Brohy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the US
Comprehensive and well-sourced, this documentary studies the shrinking oil reserves, the world’s escalating dependence on oil and how heavily both bear on US movement to war in areas where three-quarters of the world’s reserves lie beneath the sand.
sunday 11|13 2pm
CHAVEZ RAVINE: A LOS ANGELES STORY | (26 minutes) | By Jordan Mechner, Don Normark, Andrew B. Anderson and Mark Moran in the US
Sure, Chavez Ravine is a nice ballpark. This film shows how
it was once a beautiful Mexican-American community that was
evicted by the city of LA in favor of a low-income housing
project that never came. Instead, the city sold the stadium to
baseball owner Walter O’Malley.
HEART OF THE CONGO | (57 min) | By Tom Weidlinger in Congo and the US
This film offers an accessible, real-world understanding of
missionary work in a massive country still at war by tracing
the work of three ex-pat volunteers who take on the formidable
foes of malnutrition, health education and clean water in some
of the poorest parts of the world.
KUMARI: THE LIVING GODDESSES OF NEPAL | (26 minutes) | By Tassia Kobylinska in Nepal and the US
Until she hits puberty, little Kumari is believed to be the
human incarnation of the goddess Taleju. As such, she lives
alone in a temple, worshipped and beloved by her country as
its defender. Via numerous interviews, this visually dazzling
doc takes a candid and intimate look at her life—and how it
changes come menstruation.
ARMENIAN LULLABY | (5 minutes) | By Irina Patkanian in Armenia, Russia and the US
This stirring video by Patkanianinter—which floats from
scenes of quaint rural movement to haunting war
sequences—weaves wonderfully with an angelic poem written by
her great great grandfather (and sung here by Lilit Pipoyan)
about a baby who can only sleep to the battle songs of a
OCCUPIED MINDS | (57 minutes) | By Jamal Dajani and David Michaelis in Jerusalem
Producers, friends and colleagues Dajani, a Palestinian
Muslim from East Jerusalem, and Michaelis, an Israeli Jew from
West Jerusalem, return together to their hometown to share
with one another “their” city and explore not only the
physical occupation experienced by Palestinians, but also the
prevailing mindset of both sides. This film is a special
non-UNAFF addition by the local UNA chapter.
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