What the world needs now 

Global Peace Film Festival
;Through Sunday, Sept. 26
;$8 per screening;


Main Screening Venues
; Gallery at Avalon Island
; 39 S. Magnolia Ave.


Plaza Cinema Café
; 155 S. Orange Ave.


Orlando Science Center
777 E. Princeton St.


Rollins College
Several venues on campus, Winter Park


Winter Park Public Library
460 E. New England Ave.,Winter Park


With fall in session and a particularly expendable summer movie season behind us, it’s time to calm down, turn those brains back on and refill our stockpile of interdependent guilt. There’s no shortage of the substance at movie theaters this week, with Geoffrey Rush’s turn as a finger-wagging Catholic priest in Bran Nue Dae and Michael Douglas acting like a Jewish mother in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps invading screens. 


If that’s not enough to counteract that gleeful laugh you lost control of at The A-Team or Machete, you’re in luck: The Global Peace Film Festival, which kicks off Tuesday, Sept. 21, is here, ready to open minds, envelop hearts and change opinions. From explorations of next-generation green technology to birth defects affecting Vietnamese cultures to a true story of a kidnapping victim learning to forgive his kidnappers, GPFF offers all the world awareness you can handle. 


The festival is now in its eighth year, and organizers admit that its films are meant to convey a message more than cinematic achievement, and with that comes a natural spectrum of quality among the selected films. If the films we previewed are any indication, it could be a very good year for promoting peace, love and a healthy dose of activism. 


Opening the festival, Throw Down Your Heart follows banjo-pickin’ Bela Fleck as he goes on a vision quest to Africa in search of his instrument’s decidedly non-redneck-front-porch-sitting roots. 


The film In Anita’s Wake looks at the sad state of rights for gay families 33 years after famously bigoted spokes-model Anita Bryant waged her anti-gay campaign in Florida, devastating the human-rights cause in the Sunshine State in such a way that it still hasn’t fully recovered. Featuring gay celebs like Cynthia Nixon and local politicos like Rep. Scott Randolph, the film conveys its message with sweetness amidst a whole lot of sourness. 


Co-written and co-directed by its star, Paola Mendoza, Entre Nos tells Mendoza’s real-life story about a woman and her two kids, abandoned by her husband just as they are being evicted. The film follows her struggle to recover and finds its strength in Mendoza’s acting power. 


The documentary 13 Pueblos concerns the fight for water in Mexico – a fight already being waged in California – and how a town’s indigenous people fight back in the face of corrupt government officials and greedy developers. While the film milks the material with a coarse hand, it builds interest gradually and methodically. 


Finally, don’t miss Just Like Us, a surprisingly sincere journey to the Middle East starring and directed by comedian Ahmed Ahmed, an Egyptian-American circuit star who’s one of the few stand-ups to have previously braved an all-Muslim crowd. This time, he brings along the suddenly popular (thanks to her ruthless grilling of David Hasselhoff at his Comedy Central roast) Whitney Cum-mings, who is the first woman to perform comedy in Dubai. On-the-street interviews and sit-downs with religious scholars break up the comedy bits to provide a glimpse at the many ways humans, no matter their religion, view the role of humor in their lives.

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