“It Starts Here:” John Hunter Onstage with Orlando’s Global Peace Film Festival Directors

“Film is Art,” declares the Art Deco marquee of the Enzian Theater Tuesday, September 20th in Maitland, Florida. Among sweeping oak boughs and tropical foliage glistening from an evening Central Florida rain shower, a diverse community gathers to be entertained and inspired. On the brightly-lit stage before the audience festival Executive Director Nina Steich introduces the 2010 award-winning documentary, World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements, opening the week-long 20th Global Peace Film Festival. 

Nina beckons World Peace Game creator John Hunter to the stage for recognition and applause. John modestly acknowledges and simultaneously redirects the audience’s enthusiasm. “I accept your praise not just for myself but on behalf of my brother, director Chris Farina, who could not be here tonight, and for the students who inspire us. Truly, I have always been less a teacher and more a fellow learner. Like I say in the film, if the children can pick up a critical thinking tool or a creative thinking tool from this game, and leverage something good for the world, they may save us all. The game is the teacher and the assessment is 20 to 30 years from now.”

Photo by Shally Wong

Artistic Director Kelly DeVine joins Nina and John onstage briefly to praise the storytelling of director Chris Farina and the message of John’s classroom practice. “This film represents the weaving together of so many threads—culture, politics, environmental protection, modeling peace, and supporting positive change,” Kelly says. “We feel all of this year’s projects work from a shared belief in peace as a process for dealing with conflict rather than an unattainable end.”

“Our success here has always been measured on what happens after watching the film,” Nina explains. “Our tagline is ‘It starts here’ because the effectiveness of the festival is when the lights go up after a film. Get involved. Change things. It starts here. It starts with you.”