United Nations Film Festival screens powerful documents on world issues today and yesterday

By Moira Sullivan

Producer Sharon Stone interviews Sam Harris, the youngest remaining survivor 
of the Holocaust, in An Undeniable Voice October 29 at Stanford University.
Once again it is that time of year for the United Nations Film Festival, a collection of 60 films from around the world that have been created to help make our world a better place to live in. Many of the films this year are directed by women. The films will screen in venues in San Francisco and Palo Alto from Oct 20-30.

The countries for the 19th edition include Afghanistan, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, ,Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, and the US. Some of the topics this year are climate change, the impact of industrial and military ocean noise on whales, efforts to restore violins recovered from the Holocaust, Islamic seminars for children, refugees using the power of theater, and the historic inspiration to the Black Lives Matter movement today.

Agents of Change will screen 10/26 directed by Abby Ginzberg and Frank Dawson which traces protests on over 1000 college campuses around the world in the 60’s for  civil rights and black power. Many of these students went on to change the forces of racial inequality in the US.  In so doing the film hooks up with the "Black Lives Matter" movement of today.

Among the Believers is a film from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US which screens 10/29 by  
Hemal Trivedi, Mohammed Naqvi. The film is about Abdul Aziz Ghazi, a cleric that not only supports ISIS but the Taliban and who is a powerful radical advocate for Sharia Law in Pakistan. Two students from madrassas, schools where young people are trained in Islam, are part of Ghazi’s Red Mosque Network. The film is instrumental in providing an ideological background to the radical forces in the Islamic world today.

The Brainwashing of My Dad by Jen Senko to be screened on 10/25 is presented as another way of looking at radicalization- a term that is applied to recruits for ISIS. Think of right wing media such as FOX that exist to recruit followers and change their opinions. In this case Jen Senko’s father transformed from a Democrat into a right wing fanatic fueled by the media strategy of Roger Ailes who once worked for Richard Nixon.

Poster Girl directed by Sara Nesson is a documentary screening 10/20 about Robyn Murray, a National Merit Scholar and cheerleader who enlisted in the Army in a civilian division to help rebuild Iraq. She witnessed sniper attacks and combat fire all around her and as a result suffered from Panic attacks and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when she returned home. One of her ways to help heal herself was to transform her uniform and army manuals in to an art project by using her body as a model with these materials.

Nefertiti’s Daughter is a film from Egypt screening 10/27  by Mark Nickolas, Racha Najdi about women graffiti artists in Egypt. The film chronicles how their street art was instrumental in the fight for political change during the Egyptian uprisings. The graffiti icon of Queen Nefertiti is a symbol for women’s rights in Egypt today.

There are many more excellent examples of film at the United Nations Film Festival and the complete schedule can be found on UNAFF.org.

© 2016 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 10/19/16
Movie Magazine International