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2010 Film Festival Report
U.S. War on the World
On December 18 and 19, 2010, the 8th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival 4 Peace once again captured the attention of audiences through a collection of films and documentaries which promote peace and an end to imperialist war and occupation. The festival was a great success, with over 450 people who took part in the festival, and in addition to watching the films also took part in discussions, viewed art exhibits, enjoyed food together, and received information about continued antiwar activities.
The film festival represented the struggles being fought around the world against imperialism and showed how everyone is affected by war and occupation – whether a villager in an occupied land, or a soldier in an occupying force, or the people living in imperialist countries. Moreover, not only is humanity affected by war and occupation, so are the forms of art that we use to express our anger, outrage, sadness, struggle, and hope. This of course, includes the artistic expression of film, which enables us to see the world through the eyes of our fellow human beings around the globe.
The theme of this year’s festival “U.S. War on the World” focused on the leading imperialist force in the world, and the injustice that the U.S. government and military inflicts on people in every part of the world. The first day opened with the featured antiwar classic “Young Lions” which took the audience back to World War II. The next film went forward to the US war on Vietnam, with “The Most Dangerous Man in America” which looked at the significance of the top secret “Pentagon Papers” which Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971, that exposed the true face of the US war machine in Vietnam.” This new film had a special introduction via videolink by Gerry Condon, the President of Seattle Veterans for Peace and an organizer with Seattle United Against FBI Repression, who spoke of the film’s relevance in light of the recent Wikileaks releases about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Festival participants also saw an opening to the festival by Alison Bodine, the co-chair of Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) via videolink from New York City, in which she elaborated on the ability for film to connect people around the world and the importance of using film to break down the barriers of that imperialist forces put between people. Alison, currently works for the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization/Pastors for Peace in New York.
The films continued throughout the day representing struggles against the US war on Palestine, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the U.S. war at home, represented through “Jena 6” about the racial divisions imposed by the US government in attempts to divide poor and working people in the U.S. introduced via videolink from New York by Manolo De Los Santos, a project coordinator for the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization/Pastors for Peace in New York City. The film “Iran and the West” had a special introduction via videolink by Phil Wilayto, who is a co-founder of Defenders for Justice, Freedom and Equality, a founding member of the Virginia Antiwar Network, and on the Board of Directors of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII).
The second day also opened with a featured antiwar classic from World War II, “Catch 22” which displayed the insanity of war and militarism. This day went from the US war on Afghanistan, to the US war on Latin America, with films on the 2009 coup in Honduras, Cuba and the Cuban 5 political prisoners held in US jails. “The Bird and the Prisoner,” a touching film about Gerardo Hernández, one of the Cuban 5 Heroes, had a special introduction via videolink by Antonio “Tonito” Guerrero, the son of Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5, as well as a written introduction by Alicia Jrapko, the coordinator of the International Committee for the Release of the (Cuban) 5. The film “Cuba: An African Odyssey” portrayed the destructive interventions in Africa by the US and other imperialist and colonial countries, the struggles for liberation, and Cuba’s role in assisting the liberation forces in Africa. This film also had a special introduction by Kenia Serrano Puig, who is the President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) in Cuba.
Sunday’s program featured special solidarity messages, sent by video from prominent public figures and leaders in the US antiwar movement. Ramsey Clark, the former US Attorney General, long-time peace and social justice advocate, and author of the “The Fire this Time: U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf” expressed his solidarity with Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) and stressed the importance of events such as the Film Festival 4 Peace in the fight against war. A solidarity message was presented from Brian Becker, the national director for the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and a central committee member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, as well as Sara Flounders, the coordinator of the International Actions Center in New York City and member of the Secretariat of Workers World Party. These messages reinforced the importance of uniting with antiwar organizations beyond our borders, as we must work together to defeat imperialist war and occupation.
The final segment of the festival was titled “What About Canada!?” As the festival focused on the dominant force that U.S. imperialism imposes around the world, it is vital to remember that the country we are living in is also carrying out an imperialist war drive, from Afghanistan to Haiti to here at home. This segment featured the film “Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance.” This year is the 20th anniversary of the heroic struggle for self-determination documented in Kanehsatake, when Indigenous people took a stand against a golf course being built on their lands, and resisted the government of Canada and the Canadian military.
Throughout the two days participants voiced their appreciation and interest in the festival, and expressed how the films had opened their eyes to the struggles against war and occupation being fought around the world. “After I watched the film, I regret that I didn’t come to watch every film” wrote one participant on a feedback form, and “will be back next year!” wrote another. The festival brought together a wide range of ages and ethnicities, including visitors from other countries, one of which wrote “Now I am thinking about arranging an event for peace in my country.” Through the film festival, and through watching films that reflect the heroic fight against imperialist war and occupation, many more people felt inspired to get involved in working towards a better world, and to bring an end to war and occupation.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 18TH : DAY 1
SUNDAY DECEMBER 19TH : DAY 2
Festival Volunteers Setting Up
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Festival in Motion
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We Will Win!
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