2015 International Documentary Film Festival (United Nations Association Monterey Bay Chapter) Announces Slate of Films

The 16th Annual International Documentary Film Festival, presented by the Monterey Bay Chapter of the United Nations Association, will be held on Friday and Saturday evening, November 13 & 14, 2015 at 7:00 pm. Eight outstanding documentary films will be screened in the beautiful Golden State Theatre at 417 Alvarado St. in downtown Monterey and descriptions are below. The films come from around the world, each one reflecting a distinct culture, collectively exposing our shared humanity. Additionally, one winning local student film entry will be screened on Friday evening. Passes are just $10 for each night. Students with a school ID are admitted free. 

As in past years, this important film festival screens diverse international documentary films, all designed to wake up, educate and sometimes mobilize viewers around critical global issues. A committee of volunteers has spent over six months first searching several key documentary film sites for recent excellent issue-oriented documentary films, then previewing a shorter list of the best of those films in order to select the eight films that will be screened in this year's festival.

The Monterey Bay Chapter of the United Nations Association (UNA) is an all-volunteer organization of more than 400 members in Monterey County, and one of the largest and most active UNA chapters in the country. In addition to the International Film Festival and other information and advocacy events, UNA Monterey Bay is now fundraising to provide the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) with additional funds for the Syrian refugee crisis. UNA Monterey Bay also has a long history of working with student groups at local high schools, colleges and graduate schools. The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA, the national organization) is one of the country's largest grassroots foreign policy organizations, and a leading center of policy research on the United Nations. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group designed to educate Americans of every age about critical issues tackled by the U.N. With a national membership of thousands and more than 100 affiliated organizations, UNA-USA sponsors programs and events designed to encourage participation in global issues. 

This year’s festival in Monterey is again made possible through the generous support of the Arts Council for Monterey County, City of Monterey, Old Monterey Business Association, Copy King, Hyatt Regency-Monterey, Monterey County Weekly, Santa Catalina School, CSUMB, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and KAZU.

For more information about the individual films and scheduled showings, check out http://unamontereybay.org/film-festival/ or call 831-655-9390. 

Film Screening Schedule (nine total)

Friday, November 13 at 7:00 PM 

We are Fire – India – 8 minutes

Sea Change – Kenya, Ethiopia – 22 minutes

Abrazos – Guatemala – 43 minutes

Winning local student film entry – 5 minutes

A Goat for a Vote – Kenya, 50 minutes 

Saturday, November 14 at 7:00 PM

Marie's Dictionary – USA, Native American – 9 minutes

To Kill a Sparrow – Afghanistan – 26 minutes

Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching – Zambia, Swaziland – 37 minutes

Landfill Harmonic – Paraguay – 84 minutes


Film Synopses

Abrazos (USA, Guatemala, 43 minutes)

ABRAZOS tells the transformational journey of a group of U.S. citizen children who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents for the first time. After being separated for nearly two decades, these families are able to share stories, strengthen traditions and begin to reconstruct their cultural identity. There are 4.5 million U.S. citizen children living with at least one undocumented parent. This story puts a human face on the issue of immigration.


To Kill a Sparrow (Afghanistan, 26 minutes)

Produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting, “To Kill a Sparrow” is a short film revealing the plight of women in Afghanistan who are imprisoned for so-called “moral crimes”: running away from forced marriages or domestic abuse, or falling in love and marrying against a father’s wishes. This is one such woman’s story. If she persists in refusing to submit to an arranged marriage, her father and brother say they will kill her “even if she moves to America.”


Sea Change (Kenya, Ethiopia, 22 minutes)

This film is about Ikal Angelei who left northern Kenya to go to college in the USA but returned home when she learned that the GIBE III dam was being constructed. The dam will drastically diminish the water supply to her homeland and threaten the survival of her people and their culture. Sea Change tells the story of the courageous efforts of this young woman to try and preserve her community by stopping the dam. 


Landfill Harmonic (Paraguay, 84 minutes)

Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. However, when a natural disaster strikes their country, the music instructor must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.


A Goat for a Vote (Kenya, 50 minutes)

"The best way to understand our society is to look at one's children." A Goat for a Vote follows three students in Kenya competing to become the next school president. Winning the election will not only earn them power and respect, but guarantees a role within Kenyan society in the future. This film provides a window into a very different culture, but as we watch, we find ourselves discovering surprisingly similar dynamics to our own election process.


Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching (Zambia, Swaziland, 37 minutes)

Through the inspiring stories of two African environmental activists – Thuli Makama (Swaziland) and Hammer Simwinga (Zambia) – Unfair Game explores conservation and sustainable development as viable methods for safeguarding wildlife and also bears witness to the human rights violations inflicted on indigenous peoples whose traditional homelands are bordering wildlife conservancies. This film is narrated by Robert Redford. 

For more information, please visit unamontereybay.org/film-festival.