Peace On Earth Film Festival 2017

Fri, Mar 10th, 2017 to Sun, Mar 12th, 2017

Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF), the primary project of Transcendence Global Media, NFP, is a not-for-profit festival established to celebrate and encourage the work of independent filmmakers from around the world on the themes of peace, nonviolence, social justice and eco-balance. POEFF aims to contribute to a culture of peace through international cinema, dialogue and programming highlighting individuals on the vanguard of peace activism and social change. POEFF endeavors to enlighten and empower individuals, families, and communities to step out of the ignorance of conflict, violence and divisiveness, into the light of communication, consideration, tolerance and understanding.

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The Filmmakers' Panel Discussion, Peacemakers' Panel Discussion and Awards Ceremony are Free and open to the public.

Beyond The Wall

A FILM BY: Jenny Phillips

Through personal stories of six former prisoners documented over four years, BEYOND THE WALL bears witness to the challenges of life on the outside, an intimate portrait of their struggle, reentry, relapse, recovery, and redemption.


Q&A with Director Jenny Phillips and film principal Louie Diaz following the conclusion of the film. 

Technical Information

Production Year: 2016
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 75 mins
Format: Digital

A Bold Peace

A FILM BY: Matthew Eddy

Featuring Q&A with director Matthew Eddy

Costa Rica's civil war in 1948 culminated with a decision to abolish the military. Over the last 68 years they intentionally cultivated security through treaties, international laws, and have created a vital democracy, a wide middle class, free university education and universal health care.

Technical Information

Production Year: 2016
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 90 mins
Format: DCP

Mango Dreams

A FILM BY: John Upchurch
STARRING: Ram Gopal Bajaj, Pankaj Tripathi

Hindi Dr. Amit Singh (Ram Gopal Bajaj) survived the British partition of India; yet, cannot shake the trappings of dementia. Salim (Pankaj Tripathi), is a Muslim auto rickshaw driver whose wife was raped and burned to death by Hindu rioters. Now the journey of a thousand miles will heal bitter cultural wounds and forge an unforgettable friendship.

Technical Information

Production Year: 2016
Country of Origin: India
Run Time: 93 mins
Format: DCP

Opening Night Presentation: Weeds with Director in Attendance

A FILM BY: John Hancock
WRITTEN BY: Dorothy Tristan, John Hancock
STARRING: Nick Nolte, Rita Taggart , Ernie Hudson

San Quentin lifer Lee Umstetter (Nick Nolte) is inspired by a traveling theater group to write and direct his own play with his fellow prisoners. Lee is discovered by a  sympathetic newspaper critic (Rita Taggart). Her advocacy leads to his release, and the forming of his own theater troupe with former inmates. But, life on the outside is harder than expected.


Post film Q&A with Weeds Co-Star Rita Taggart, Writer Dorothy Tristan, and Director/Writer John Hancock. 


A ticket for this film also includes admittance to BEYOND THE WALL at 9:30pm: 

Technical Information

Production Year: 1987
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 115 mins
Format: Digital

Paying the Price for Peace

A FILM BY: Bo Boudart

Featuring a Q&A with Associate Producers Frank Dorrel & John C. "Jack" Ryan

Vietnam veteran S. Brian Willson pays the price for peace by calling attention to the US government's defiance of international law through endless illegal wars.

Technical Information

Production Year: 2016
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 98 mins
Format: DCP

Peace Film Festival Awards Ceremony


The Peace On Earth Film Festival, a competitive festival, brings together filmmakers of all backgrounds and levels of experience in a message of peace.

Plaques and monetary awards are presented in the “Best of …” all categories, including a new category in 2017, short and feature “Best Comedy”, in addition Exposé Awards for Feature Documentary and Short Documentary, respectively are presented to filmmakers that have presented subject matter that had previously received little or no media attention. Winners not in attendance will be mailed their monetary award and certificate.

Further, there is an award, the Student Choice Award for Most Inspiring Story, voted on by Chicago area school students, grades 7 – 12, who attend the Student Voices for Peace Showcase, held on Thursday and Friday morning of the festival weekend.

The Community Action Award is presented to a Chicago Organization that is taking significant steps in its community to promote peace, nonviolence, understanding, tolerance and a greater awareness of issues facing the community and its residence.

Presented on Saturday evening to Chicago based The Peace Exchange.

Technical Information

Run Time: 20 mins

Peace Film Festival Filmmakers' Panel Discussion


The 2017 Peace On Earth Film Festival Filmmakers’ Discussion Panelists:  Price Arana, Gwendolen Cates, Micki Dickoff, Frank Dorrel, Matthew Eddy, Pascal Gelinas, Jenny Marlowe, Lucien Perkins, Jen Phillips and Chad Rispalje.

Technical Information

Run Time: 60 mins

Peace Film Festival Peacemakers' Panel Discussion



2017 Peacemakers' Panel


Robert C. Koehler - moderator

Mr. Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist, former editor at Tribune Media Services and a nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound, is a collection of essays – secular prayers – about the world we are becoming if we reach out to one another in love and creative openness rather than stay imprisoned in fear and denial. We have two choices: to strive for power with one another or power over one another. Mr. Koehler also writes his own weekly internet column Common Wonders,


Gwendolen Cates

Gwendolen received an Instamatic camera for her 9th birthday and was hooked. Before venturing into film, she photographed countless public figures, from Rosa Parks to George Clooney.  Her critically-acclaimed book "Indian Country" inspired Oprah to begin a series about Native Americans.  Her first feature documentary "Water Flowing Together" about Jock Soto, a renowned Navajo-Puerto Rican principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, won several awards and was nationally broadcast on PBS Independent Lens.  Her first collaboration with the Onondaga Nation was the award-winning short film "Guswenta," about the first treaty between indigenous people and European settlers.  Gwendolen is currently working on a film about the Yezidis and other indigenous minorities of Iraq now undergoing genocide, for which she has traveled frequently to Iraq and Syria.  She lives in New York City.


Louie Diaz

Assistant Director of the Center for Addictive Behavior in Tewksbury, MA. Louie Diaz has been in the field of human services for close to 20 years, currently working as a reentry specialist at Lowell House Inc. His job takes him inside prisons and jails preparing men for release. He is a support system for returning citizens when they are released to the community. Louie Dias has lectured and shared his life story at numerous schools including Salem State University, UMass Lowell, Boston University, Brown University, and many community colleges. He serves on the board of directors for Thrive Communities of Massachusetts and New Horizons to the Nations, a faith-based program from Chelsea. Louie Diaz, is the principal subject of Beyond the Wall, Feature documentary in the 2017 POEFF


Michael Dreiling

Sociology professor University of Oregon specializing in political and environmental sociology. He is author of two books – most recent is Agents of Neoliberal Globalization - numerous research articles, and is presently working on a comparative study of energy industry networks. Awarded for distinguished university teaching in 2009, the Martin Luther King, Jr. distinguished service award in 2010, and numerous leadership awards in 2015, Professor Dreiling is also active in the nonprofit world to promote nonviolence, environmental care, and an economy that is fair for all. A Bold Peace – a feature documentary film coproduced with writer Matthew Eddy - depicts that vision of a better world.


Sam Harris

Sam R. Harris is believed to be one of the youngest to survive the camps during the Holocaust, freed at age nine and a half. In 1958 he graduated from Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science, with a very successful carrier in Life Insurance. Active in community and scholastic affairs, he is a former board member of Spertus College of Judaica, has served on the Board of Directors for Forest Hospital, is currently on the Board of Directors of South Central Bank in Chicago, and a former officer of The Rotary Club of Northbrook, and a former President of Northbrook United Way. Sam Harris is President Emeritus of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois for which he spearheaded its building.


Madaleno "Leno" Rose-Avila

Executive Director of Witness to Innocence. A long history of civil and human rights work, and many years in the movement to abolish the death penalty. In 1998 he joined with Sister Helen Prejean, one of the founders of WTI, and helped to developed and launch the Moratorium Initiative, which because on of the most effective strategies to reach out to politicians and the public on issues of abolition. While working for Amnesty international in Atlanta, he organized the largest meeting of national leaders in the African American Community on death penalty, including Coretta Scott King, Rev Joe Lowery, the National Black Police Assoc, Congressman John Conyers, and many others. He also worked with Cesar Chaves and other leaders of the historic United Farm Workers Union.


Suzanne Akhras Sahloul

Founder & president of the Syrian Community Network. She is also the founder of Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Midwest Foundation, having served as its president from 2004- 2006. With a bachelors degree in history and education from the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC), and Masters of Arts in Organizational  Leadership (MAOL) from Lewis University, Suzanne is currently pursuing a  Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management. Suzanne resides with her husband and three children in the West suburbs of Chicago and in her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling.

Technical Information

Run Time: 60 mins

Peace Film Festival Shorts Program #1

Q&A with Director Pascal Gelinas following the conclusion of the last film.

Films Included

The Fence  (Short Documentary, India, 9 min) - Directed by Warren Periera

"Short film that examines the controversial fence in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve that divides wildlife from humankind."


The Slum Dwellers  (Short Documentary, USA/Kenya, 7 min) - Directed by Gabriel Diamond

"Jockin, from the slums of Indian, came up with an idea to organize those marginalized to improve conditions for themselves and their communities. It's like a Slum Dwellers union. Now they are in over 30 countries. Here's how it looks in Kenya." In English and Swahili with subtitles


Ichiro and the Wave  (Short Documentary, Indonesia/Singapore/USA, 11 min) - Directed by Isaac Kerlow

"Ichiro was fishing near the coast of Banda Aceh, Indonesia, when the 2004 tsunami struck his boat. Stranded on an island during the devastation he wondered if he would ever see his family again." In Indonesian with subtitles


A Bridge Between Two Worlds  (Short Documentary, Canada, 51 min) - Directed by Pascal Gelinas

"Muslim and Catholic farmers, on the Island of Flores, Indonesia, wage a battle to defeat their poverty and to enhance their environment, initiated by Gilles Raymond, a Canadian volunteer from Québec with the support of North American and European families." 

Technical Information

Run Time: 78 mins
Format: Digital

Peace Film Festival Shorts Program #2

Films Included

Witness Bahrain  (Feature Documentary, USA/Bahrain, 58 min) - Directed by Jen Marlow

"This is documentary cut from guerilla style footage, capturing an intimate portrayal of Bahrain's uprising, two years out of its beginning. Filmmaker Jen Marlowe entered the country under false pretenses and filmed clandestinely before being deported." In Arabic with subtitles


Off the Record: Justice Denied to Child Sex Abuse Survivors  (Short Documentary, USA, 23 min) - Directed by Valerie Gibson

"An expose' of the hidden injustices suffered by survivors seeking legal redress against their perpetrators.  Too many matters that favor abusers occur outside the courtroom and the public eye, behind-the-scenes dealings that obstructed their path to justice and impeded personal recovery."


The Good Mind  (Feature Documentary, USA, 66 min) - Directed by Gwendolen Cates

"The Onondaga Nation fights for environmental stewardship of their ancestral lands that were stolen by New York State in violation of a treaty with George Washington."


Q&A with Director Gwendolen Cates following the conclusion of the last film. 

Technical Information

Run Time: 147 mins
Format: Digital

Peace Film Festival Shorts Program #3

Films Included

CRACKS  (Short Narrative, Belgium, 9 min) - Directed by Koen Van Sande

"When a bourgeois couple needs to park their expensive car in an Arab neighborhood of Brussels, an inevitable misunderstanding with the locals turns into a paralyzing panic." In Arabic and Dutch with subtitles


iWitness  (Short Narrative, Greece, 8 min) - Directed by Georgios Mastrakoulis

"A recording of a man's assault by a group of young men goes viral. Life through a lens proves to be far more engaging than the real thing; however, this expose' holds an interesting twist of consequence." In Modern Greek with subtitles


Three Boats (three documentary poems)  (Short Documentary, USA, 12 min) - Directed by Irina Patkanian

"An intimate look at the refugee crisis within the eyes of the bewildered children of Syria: one-third of the 1.5 million over the past year; 4.8 million overall since January 2015." In Arabic with subtitles


The Gathering  (Short Documentary, USA, 24 min) - Directed by Micki Dickoff

"Witness to Innocence, the largest organization of death row exonerees in the country, some having spent decades on death row for murders they didn't commit, come together once a year to share their thoughts and feelings, fears and dreams with the only people who really understand."

Q&A with Director Micki Dickoff, Randy Steidl, Nathson (Nate) Fields, and Magdaleno "Leno" Rose-Avila following the conclusion of THE GATHERING.


UBUNTU - The Peace Exchange  (Short Documentary, USA/South Africa, 14 min) - Directed by Chad Rispalje & Jessica Work (Free Spirit PRO)

"Chicago-based The Peace Exchange sends students from violence-plagued neighborhoods traveled to South Africa in the summer of 2016, 22 years after the end of apartheid, to prepare them to become the Peace Builders needed back in their communities.

Q&A with Co-Directors Chad Rispalje and Jessica Work and The Peace Exchange Peace Builders & Staff following the conclusion of the last film.


Following the Q&A will be a presentation of the 2017 Peace On Earth Film Festival Community Action Award to The Peace Exchange.

The Community Action Award is presented to a Chicago Organization that is taking significant steps in its community to promote peace, nonviolence, understanding, tolerance and a greater awareness of issues facing the community and its residence.

Technical Information

Run Time: 87 mins
Format: Digital

Peace Film Festival Shorts Program #4


Films Included

Driver's Ed. (Short Narrative, USA, 14 min) - Directed by Chase Norman

"A shy, overweight young woman leaves the safety of her home for an unwelcoming high school classroom."


The Messengers (Feature Documentary, USA, 52 min) - Directed by Lucian Perkins

"Two young women volunteers, one a naïve college dropout and the other a college graduate, are transformed by the residents of a hospice for homeless HIV/AIDs patients."

Q&A with Director Lucian Perkins following the conclusion of the last film.

Technical Information

Run Time: 66 mins

Peace Film Festival Shorts Program #5

Films Included

Jarvis Rockwell (Short Documentary, USA, 40 min) - Directed by Rachel Victor

"Jarvis Rockwell, Norman's oldest son, embarks on a journey of self and art and finds a way to love his often difficult famous father."


The Little Dictator (Short Narrative, Israel, 29 min) - Directed by Nurith Cohn

"The Little Dictator is a light comedy of an uncharismatic history professor and lecturer on totalitarian political leaders who suddenly finds himself in an unexpected situation; at the Sabbath weekend celebrating the 90th birthday of his wife’s grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, he is forced him to confront history, his family and himself."


MUSIC (Short Documentary, USA, 7 min) - Directed by Brandon E. Kamin

"An uplift as we watch local musician, John Beacher, as he moves about Philadelphia uplifting people through his music. Captured by filmmaker, Brandon E Kamin, John's audience are folks who may need a little more brotherly love than most."


An Undeniable Voice (Short Documentary, USA, 16 min)  Co-Directed by Price Arana & Adam Rothlein

Featuring a Q&A with Sam Harris & Director Price Arana

"Sam Harris, believed to be one of the youngest to survive the camps during the Holocaust, shares his amazing story of survival with philanthropist and activist Sharon Stone. Sam Harris spearheaded the building of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois and currently serves as President Emeritus."

Technical Information

Run Time: 92 mins

Peace Film Festival Shorts Program #6

Films Included

Sounds of Resistence (Feature Documentary, Spain, 61 min) - Directed by Xuban Intxausti

"A masterful work of cellist Maite Arrotajauregi 'Mursego' and her travels to Sarajevo and Gorazde to meet locals and compose a music piece - a musical journey - that amplifies psychological and current social problems of postwar Bosnia Herzegovina."


Mary Mother (Short Narrative, Afghanistan, 19 min) - Directed by Sadam Wahidi

"Mary lives in a remote village of Afghanistan, her only son is serving for military in Kunduz province, which has fallen to the Taliban. Since the authorities have no news of her son, Mary decides to take the journey to Kunduz to find her son."


HAVEN (Short Narrative, Iran, 13 min) - Directed by Hesam Eslami

"An Iraqi soldier finds some prized booty early in the Iran-Iraq war; tomorrow he heads to the front line. What will he do with it?"


Dolemitenfront (Short Narrative, Italy, 43 min) - Directed by Sara Maino

"A Rock Film Against All Wars! Shot in a former WW1 Austro-Hungarian Fort, the music was played, performed and recorded live on the set."

Technical Information

Run Time: 136 mins
Format: DCP

Peace Film Festival Student Filmmaker Showcase

Films Included

Dividing Line of Chicago  (Short Documentary, USA, 9 min) -  Directed by Students of Free Spirit Media - North Lawndale College Prep

"Chicago youth see their city as diverse; but also see it as segregated." 


Forgive Me Father  (Short Narrative, USA, 29 min) - Directed by Major Gloria A. Downey

"A brutal terrorist and an idealistic solider are trapped in an isolated bunker."


Pushing  (Short Narrative, USA, 9 min) - Directed by Ryan LaPine

"Realitites collide when a homeless man and a police officer see the world in different ways."


Tree Huggers  (Short Documentary,  Canada, 10 min) - Directed by Jordan Yeager

"British Columbia is one of the last places on earth logging old growth forests. In the face of climate change, old growth forestry isn't just a threat to species living in the area -- it's a threat to the world itself."


Voice From 10,000 Miles  (Short Narrative, Australia, 9 min) - Directed by Oluwadamilola Oshodi

"A Nigerian international student studying in Australia struggles to remain patriotic and faithful to his belief in hope for a better future for his country after receiving terrible news from his sister back home."


HANNA IS BEAUTIFUL  (Short Documentary, Israel, 22 min) - Directed by Shira Meishar

"Hanna, a special needs 37-year-old who shows a moving and philosophical insight into her situation, an unforgettable character who effortlessly demolishes all our preconceptions about special needs adults." In Hebrew with English subtitles 


A Q&A with the attendant student filmmakers will take place after the conclusion of the last short.

Technical Information

Language: English
Run Time: 88 mins
Format: Digital

Music Box Theatre

3733 N Southport Ave Chicago, IL 60613 773 871 6604