For over a decade, the Global Peace Film Festival (GPFF) worked with Rollins to screen films on-campus that capture various current obstacles solutions to global peace.
These screenings have always been free to all students. Aside from Rollins’ central position in Winter Park, the benefits of the partnership for the festival abounded. Many on-campus organizations, such as Amnesty International, as well as many Community Engagement classes already dedicate their time to pursuing peace through active service. These dedicated students and professors are prime subjects for discussion and possible action on these films. Many students also worked as interns or volunteers for the festival, and some even screened their own films. The impact upon Rollins students from participation in the festival range from joining an activist club on-campus to building a school in Tanzania after graduation. This keeps on track with the mission and tagline of the festival, “It starts here.”
“Part of it is finding a personal, inner peace,” says Nina Streich, the executive director of the GPFF, as she explained the GPFF’s take on global peace.
“It’s finding compassion for the world in whatever way most drives you.”
“Global peace, it’s not just the absence of war,” Artistic Director Kelly DeVine elaborated. “Some people have these utopian views where there’s no conflict and they think it can’t be done. There’s always going to be conflict. We try to show models of non-aggressive, peaceful ways of resolving that conflict.” She described that some of these involve respect for one another, internal peace, and striving towards an attainable way of life.
Both of these views serve to stress what DeVine most hoped to convey to audiences: the films in the Global Peace Film Festival are not simply cinema for its own sake. DeVine described her personal passion for stories as loving to find and display new ways to see and walk through the world. Art is emotionally enriching in many ways, and these films were a means to attract people into activism and enrich local civic groups. Besides those students active at Rollins, the GPFF works year-round in the Orlando area with Amnesty, the League of Women Voters, and Global Hope, just to name a few.
DeVine aimed to get us part of the way there. What she searched for in a film is, “that a film demonstrates issues and also provides solutions.” A film for the GPFF should have a proud acknowledgement of the strains and the toils, but should also give a sense that there remains work to be done. This year’s films ranged from the struggles of a Syrian refugee’s journey from a Lebanese refugee camp to Canada, to a highlight of the Armenian Genocide, to this day unacknowledged by the Turkish government, to the story of several Bulgarian high school students who graduate into a completely new world as the Berlin Wall comes down. All of these spoke of peace in some manner, and all of them told those at Rollins why they should care and where they can start. “We can invest now and change things,” Devine advocated, “or we can ignore it at our peril.”