United Nations Film Festival has Stanford ties

Oct. 18, 2013, 1:34 a.m.

The 16th United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) will be held from Oct. 17-27 at several Bay Area locations, including Palo Alto and Stanford University.

The theme for this year’s festival is “individual to universal,” featuring a total of 70 international and national film documentaries dealing with a myriad of topics, such as human rights, poverty, LGBTQ issues, environmental policy and education.

There are several promising works being shown at the festival. A talented list of filmmakers is attending the event, including Academy Award nominees Mark Kitchell and Connie Field. What’s more, six members of the Stanford community are screening their films in this year’s festival, including Jan Krawitz, a professor of art and art history, Charlene Music M.F.A ’09 and Anne Makepeace ’69 M.A. ’71 M.F.A. ’82.

Krawitz is presenting her film “Perfect Strangers.”  It is the account of Ellie, a woman who altruistically decides to donate her kidney to Kathy, a woman she has never met. The documentary presents a curious, unusual case of human kindness, and, at the same time, it raises awareness about the current situation of organ donation in our country. With various artistic film shots and scenes, Krawitz truly manages to capture the essence behind each person, providing some interesting food for thought.

Historical figures are also featured in UNAFF’s films. Makepeace directed and produced “Eleanor Roosevelt: Close to Home,” which is planned to be screened at the film’s opening night in Aquarius Theatre in Palo Alto. Although a bit too short, it does a good job of introducing the story of the prominent First Lady and her extensive political and social activism throughout her life. It leaves the viewer wishing for deeper detail; a lengthier account would do more justice to this captivating film work.

“Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution,” directed and produced by British-American couple Alex and Tanya Meillier, is also being featured at the opening night. This film presents the breathtaking story of Australian activist Kirsty Sword, who was a secret informant during the East Timor revolution. She collaborates with Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, the revolution leader, and the two unexpectedly fall in love. The intense scenes make the viewer feel the tension as their own, living the action through the eyes of brave Kirsty. Thrilling emotions, suspense and intrigue are just a few of the themes that describe this excellent documentary.

Other highly anticipated films include “Familia Ayara,” a Colombian-Spanish production. The film is about the inspiring Don Popo and how he founded an organization that provides support through hip-hop for children who have been mentally, sexually or physically abused. Also, do not miss the “Nowhere to Run” animated series, an Irak/Turkey/U.S. original creation that deals with LGBTQ issues in refugee communities around the world.

Tickets can be purchased at Tresidder Union at Stanford University or at the United Nations Association gift shop in Palo Alto. Same-day tickets are free for students with a valid I.D and for seniors (62+).


For more information visit http://www.unaff.org/2013/index.html.

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