The annual World Peace Film Festival launches its 20th season

The Global Peace Film Festival (GPFF) is back for its 20th season with a live event format in Winter Park and Orlando. Coinciding with the International Day of Peace on September 21, the festival focuses on civil rights, immigration, human rights and world peace.

“Rather than a passive experience, our goal for the festival is to inspire people to make big or small, but always important changes to improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors,” said General Manager Nine Streich. “Watch movies. Get involved. Make a difference. It starts here. It starts with you.

“World Peace and Other Grade 4 Achievements” kicked off the festival at the Enzian on Tuesday evening. A 2010 documentary film by American filmmaker Chris Farina, it follows public school teacher John Hunter in an eight-week political simulation, The World Peace Game.

“World Peace and Other Fourth Grade Achievements” with Mr. John Hunter, film by Chris Farina.

This gripping documentary draws you in from the first frame as we meet Mr. Hunter, the teacher we all wish we had for our children, ourselves and the world. Mr. Hunter uses the 2,500-year-old teachings of Sun Tzu’s “Arts of War” to guide students in their “game.” Modestly describing himself less as a teacher and more like another learner, Hunter explains, “The game is the teacher, and the assessment is 20 to 30 years away.”

After the film, audiences were thrilled to meet Mr. John Hunter in person for a powerful exchange. I don’t think the audience would have been more thrilled if Brad Pitt had walked on that stage.

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Mr. Hunter guiding his students through The World Peace Game.

Pitch for Peace with “What Hugh Knew”

You won’t want to miss the festival’s Peace Pitch at the Enzian on Thursday, September 22, from 1:30-2:30 p.m., with “What Hugh Knew,” a feature-length documentary about the power of human connection. Directed by award-winning Orlando filmmaker Todd Thompson of Stars North, “What Hugh Knew” is a compelling story about an inner circle of surfers, college friends and family. When their friend, Hugh Shaw, tragically dies two weeks before graduation, they find themselves transformed. The remaining crew launches an annual memorial surf contest that continues to foster deep personal bonds more than 37 years later, when countless forces threaten those bonds.

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Director, Todd Thompson, is hard at work on his latest film, “What Hugh Knew.”

“‘What Hugh Knew’ shines a light on the universal power of love and genuine human connection,” says executive producer Jennifer Bisbee. “One of the recurring themes of the film is finding balance. Surfing is a great metaphor for this. The festival’s Peace Pitch is an opportunity to “launch our official trailer and screen excerpts from our film, as well as to collect valuable feedback from participants”.

“After a lifetime of telling heartfelt stories with inspiring messages, I was immediately drawn to Hugh’s journey and Jennifer’s vision for this film,” adds Todd Thompson of Stars North. “Producing and directing ‘What Hugh Knew’ has been transformative for me, so I’m confident it will have a similar impact on others.”

The Global Peace Film Festival offers three separate official events:

  • CONFLICT, an exhibition by renowned local artist Victor Bokas presented at CityArts, 39 S. Magnolia Ave. in downtown Orlando from September 15 to October 10. For more information, visit peacefilmfest.org/cityarts/.
  • GPFF is working with visionary arts educators from Orange County Public Schools to present the Student Peace Art Exhibit on view in the Orange County Administration Building September 19-30. The theme of the 2022 exhibition is “Peace and Action”. the exhibition allows students to discuss and reflect on conflict resolution and peace, whether it is peace in their own lives or current events. All students who submit artwork receive recognition; a jury of art teachers and guests rewards the best work which is then published in a calendar to further teach peace and showcase student artwork. Student art will also be displayed in a luxury 61-passenger GoPegasus bus as part of the company’s “Art on Wheels” program.
  • pitch for peace at the Enzian on September 22, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Filmmakers in post-production seeking completion funding review their work in progress and obtain feedback from potential funders and other stakeholders. This year’s showcase film is “What Hugh Knew,” a feature-length documentary about the power of human connection directed by award-winning Orlando filmmaker Todd Thompson of Stars North™ (“Woman in Motion”). It’s open to the public; however, places are limited; for free tickets based on available seats, visit Peace Pitch and visit www.WhatHughKnew.com for more information.

Never fear if you missed the opening or want to catch up on any of the movies. The festival is offering a free, in-person way to watch virtual films available Monday, September 26 through Sunday, October 2. The films will be accessible on the Global Peace Film Festival website, along with interviews with the filmmakers and information about the films in person. events.

Visit peacefilmfest.org for more information. Follow @peacefilmfest on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Darcy J. Skinner