Chaos filled the streets of Northern Ireland in the 1970s. Shootings, car bombings, and civilian death became the norm for citizens living through a time known as “The Troubles”. The strife stemmed from fierce disagreement, both political and religious, between the Protestants and Catholics. No one was safe from this violence. But for Betty Williams, the firsthand experience of living through violence served as a call to action. She made it her life’s mission to spread peace and protect children in the face of unrest- both in her turbulent home nation and around the globe.
Why is war a constant in our world? The borders between conflicting nations may shift, and the reasons behind the battles may evolve, but the bloodshed never seems to stop. Yet, one leader chooses not to let the status quo of violence dictate the future of humanity. Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica, dedicates his life to the goal of de-weaponizing the world.
For many soldiers haunted by the demons of battlefield experiences, discussing them with ordinary civilians may prove unbearable. Even with their own health and well-being on the line, many would rather stay silent about their struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Filmmaker Stacey Stone brings this struggle to light through her documentary, My Own War. In it, she attempts to open up conversations and illuminate a path towards healing for all of those who suffer from PTSD.
Slim (Michael Arell) is an overweight archaeologist who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in his life… That is, until his boss sends him on a mission to find the mythical Golden Dustpan. While Slim gets himself into far more trouble than he expected on his quest, he ends up learning about himself and who he wants to be in the world.
In 2013, Carlo Caldana released an independent novel called, Smile Again, Jenny Lee, about a world renowned tennis player with a personality like Tonya Harding, who got her leg messed up like Nancy Kerrigan. (Only in this tale, she actually was knocked out of her sport for good.)
Two years later, in a feat of moxy that’s truly impressive, Carlo Caldana translated his novel into a script, directed the film, and cast himself as the colead alongside Monique Hafen who played the titular Jenny Lee.
The tale of the film revolves around Jenny’s attempt to find her place in the world after losing her spot in tennis. Low on funds and about to be cut off by her wealthy mother (Linda DeMetrick), she agrees to help a lawyer named Charles Landale (Carlo Caldana) track down her absentee father, hoping that he will float her some cash. However, when the mystery of her father’s disappearance grows more ominous, she and Landale will have to keep their wits about them to unravel the mystery.
I grew up believing the Mayan Indians were a long lost civilization, like the lost tribe of the Maori. I knew about their amazing science and their calendar, but, at some time in my childhood, had come to believe that they’d been slaughtered by the Aztecs and no longer existed.
As often happens with Dawn Engle’s films through PeaceJam, I learned a lot about both people groups and people that changed my perception through this film—not the least of which being that the Mayan Indians still exist as the indigenous people of Guatemala (as well as a number of other Latin American countries), despite genocidal attempts of a 36 year civil war.