Arts & Culture » Arts Stories & Interviews

In its 15th year, the Global Peace Film Festival is all about the mission



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Olympic Pride, American Prejudice
  • Olympic Pride, American Prejudice

And then there's The Good Mind, a documentary that follows the struggle of the Onondaga people to retain their sovereign status within New York state. Not many viewers will likely know that there's an independent indigenous nation with its own government located square in the middle of the Empire State, and that its citizens wage an ongoing battle to preserve their environment and way of life. That audiences will learn about all this from Global Peace is a testament to the emphasis Streich and DeVine place on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to subject matter. Just as peace itself is a proactive undertaking and not simply the absence of aggression, so is the festival's process an ongoing effort to ferret out issues that are only starting to resonate on the national and world stage.

"We want the festival to inspire people to do something because of what they've seen. And so that's what we look for: What's going on locally, in terms of what are organizations working on?" Streich says. "So when we see a film that matches that, that's going to be higher up our priority list. Between two films of equal creative and artistic merit, we'll pick the one that works with what's going on locally."

Last year's festival was heavily weighted toward LGBT issues in the wake of Pulse. This time, that's not as much of a focus, Streich says – although she is glad that the festival is able to pay tribute to the recently deceased Billy Manes by reshowing the 2013 Billy and Alan, filmmaker Nantz's recounting of the legal struggles Manes faced after his first husband, Alan Jordan, committed suicide. How bittersweet it is to watch the film again, with so much of the tale told by "family friend" Anthony Mauss – in real life, now the grieving widower and Manes himself the pined-for lost half. Those changes are encapsulated in a new postscript Nantz has added.

"[Billy] and I wanted to influence the debate about marriage equality, which was unsettled then," Nantz recalls. "It helps me feel more hopeful about change if I'm doing my own little part to help create that change."

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