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NY Peace Film Festival

Trying to Bring the Planet to its Senses … One Film at a Time

March 20, 2017 / Upper East Side Neighborhood UES / Cinema & Film in Manhattan / Manhattan Buzz NYC.

ny peace film festival nycI attended the 10th annual Peace Film Festival in Manhattan this past weekend. The two day event was held at the All Souls Unitarian Church on Lexington Avenue at 80th Street on the Upper East Side. The festival included about a dozen films covering issues, events and people from around the world, including Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, Latin America and California.

The photo at right is a still from a movie about a lovers relationship between a western woman and a Japanese man in Hiroshima around the time of the dropping of the nuclear bomb.

NY Peace Film Festival History in NYC

I had an opportunity to talk to one of the NY Peace Film Festival co-founders, Yumi Tanaka who provided me with a brief history. The festival began in 2007 when Yumi and co-founder Jonathan Fluck [and a mutual friend who dropped out after the first year] decided to put together a cultural event to showcase conflicts in a multi-dimensional cultural event. Yumi is a standup comedian, their mutual friend had a theatrical background and Jonathan is a social activist, so together they assembled an ensemble that included film, dance, music and poetry in the first year [2007]. The event was held at the Tenri Shinto Church off Union Square.

ny peace film festival nyc

The next year Yumi and Jonathan morphed the event into a film festival to enable them to better manage it, as live performance requires considerable additional time, rehearsal space and the like, while film followed by live or Skyped talks made the festival more manageable. A few years ago the festival relocated to the All Souls Unitarian Church on the Upper East Side where they were this weekend.

When I arrived the church was closed, but there’s an entrance a bit south of the main entrance to the church, leading into meeting facilities [see photo at right]. Tickets were a very reasonable $12 and were good for the day and multiple films. The audience was comprised of an eclectic set of New Yorkers, including artists and film enthusiasts and social activists.

Click here to read the rest of our report about the NY Peace Film Festival in NYC including film photos and some discussion about them.


NY Peace Film Festival

Trying to Bring the Planet to its Senses … One Film at a Time

ny peace film festival nycMarch 20, 2017 / Upper East Side Neighborhood UES / Cinema & Film in Manhattan / Manhattan Buzz NYC. Continued.

Yumi is originally from Japan. The psychological and social impact of the nuclear bomb drops at the end of WWII had a significant on Japanese culture. In the neighborhood of 125,000 to 250,000 people were killed by these two bombs, and likely as many injured.

The photo at right shows people watching one of the films shown at the 2017 NY Peace Film Festival in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan.

 

I had met Jonathan Fluck at one of the Hibakusha Stories events, which he was involved in facilitating. Hibakusha translated literally means “explosion affected people” and it was a derogatory term applied to the injured victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bomb sites. At the Hibakusha Stories event, living victims, now in their 80’s, recalled their experience of the nuclear holocaust. They ny peace film festival nyctravel the world relaying their experiences and the impact of the event on their lives in hopes of preventing another such horror from happening again.

 

At one of the Hibakusha Stories events, the grandson of President Harry Truman, spoke about the difficult decision made by his grandfather, with the Hibakusha victims in attendance. It is this sort of coming together, of two nations, once mortal enemies, to work toward a more harmonious planet, that is the goal of the NY Peace Film Festival.

 

Yumi referenced the nuclear meltdown at the Fukishima power plant in 2011, as yet another nuclear catastrophe endured by the Japanese. I recently read how the Japanese are still trying to cool down the nuclear reactor – nearly six years later – and struggling to deal with the water they’re contaminating in the process of trying to cool down the reactor.

Yumi Tanakaka is shown in the photo at right with the NY Peace Festival poster of 2017. I inserted a photo of Jonathan Fluck into the photo as he wasn't in attendance while I was visiting the festival.

 

Sugihara Survivors: Jewish & Japanese Past & Future

ny peace film festival nycOn Saturday there was a film shown about how a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania in 1940, issued 2,000 exit visas to Jews escaping Nazi persecution. The Jews had to travel through Russia and take a ship from Vladivostok to Japan. Yumi told me how one of the descendants of one of the surviving Jews showed up at the NY Peace Film Festival on Saturday and spoke about her parent’s experience.

At right is Deborah Reed who is the daughter of one of the Jews who were given Japanese immigration documents which they used to flee Germany at the outset of World War II. They traveled across Russia and took a boat to Japan. Many eventually made their way to the Americas.

 

Muslims are Not Terrorists & Who Dies

Other films at the festival included one that explored the dishonest labeling of Muslims as terrorists, from a Nigerian perspective. Another explored the conflict in Kashmir in India, where culture and religion are hijacked by some – to exploit cultural differences, to the detriment of all.

In the photo at right is a man from Nigeria, who is featured in the documentary movie about the Muslim faith, as he discusses what's really taught in the Koran.

 

ny peace film festival nyc

Enemy Alien & Bad Kids

Enemy Alien depicts the fight to free Abdel Muhti, a Palestinian civil rights activist detained in a post 911 sweep of Muslim immigrants. The description says, “Transferred from jail to jail, beaten and interrogated but never charged with a crime, but is finally freed after six years of agitation and organizing. The film ‘Bad Kids’ documents the lives of teens not on track to graduate. The description says, “Their home lives are a mess providing no positive role models. This film follows a couple of students through a year – some successes and some failures. The dedication and patience of the staff is incredible. Education IS a social justice issue!”

 

Walls & Others

ny peace film festival nycThe film ‘Walls’ explores life on both sides of walls and fences around the globe. Some of the geographies include the Mexico / U.S. border, the Spain / Moroccan wall and the Zimbabwe / South African wall. There were other films as well, including one for children about children struggling with their identity as immigrants in a new country. Other films cover the refugee problem in the Middle East, and another about a rescue mission in Libya.

 

The NY Peace Film Festival is a journey into the lives of those less fortunate than us. An exploration of evil humans and great humanity. Yumi and Jonathan have embarked on an endeavor to save the world … one film at a time.

 

The NY Peace Film Festival will return next year and you can submit films for possible inclusion in the NY Peace Film Festival by contacting them via their website at www.nypeacefilmfest.org. In the photo at right [from left to right] are co-Founder Yumi Tanaka, Taeco Ishida and Mia Niwa.



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