This year's Global Peace Film Festival opened on Tuesday — the International Day of Peace — and it's a welcome return for this showcase of cinema with a social conscience.
For the next two weeks, local film fans will have a chance to experience a challenging and well-curated slate of movies exploring themes of peace and conflict resolution.
In 2020, GPFF organizers developed a hybrid model of online screenings and presentations, alongside a small number of in-person screenings, as a community-minded pivot in the face of a pandemic.
"As much of a challenge as it was, we worked to present a robust festival in a new format," explains Nina Streich, GPFF's executive director. "All in all, we were pleased with the festival we programmed in 2020 and the engagement with both filmmakers and the virtual audience."
This year, festival organizers are expanding the number and scale of in-person screenings but keeping what worked as far as virtual screenings and events. The first week of the festival, already underway, kicked off with an opening-night screening at Enzian Theater, to be followed by in-person screenings through Sept. 26 at the Winter Park Library. Next week — Sept. 27-Oct. 3 — feature films can be viewed virtually through Eventive and free short films through the festival's YouTube channel.
"I have to credit Kelly DeVine, the artistic director and programmer for the festival with a really diverse lineup of films. I can never single out a specific [favorite] film. If I did, I wouldn't tell anyone," Streich chuckles.
And it's not just movies on offer this year, but a series of in-person and Zoom Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and two art exhibitions: one at CityArts, and another of art from local public school students online. "Do the Evolution at CityArts in downtown Orlando showcases the work of Leonardo Bianchi, presenting 12 new works custom-curated for the GPFF," says Streich. "Since 2006, the GPFF has presented the K-12 Student Peace Art Exhibit from students throughout the Orange County Public School system. Their talent is amazing and their ideas are inspiring."
But has the last year-plus of unending bad news shaken Streich's faith in the GPFF's mission at all?
"Not at all! In fact, it has strengthened my faith in film, and in fact all creative arts, as a positive force for societal change. The creativity that so many filmmakers have shown throughout the pandemic has been really exciting," Streich concludes.
See you at the movies.