Orlando Japan Festival 2017

First established in 2003, Nina Streich was hired to create the Global Peace Film Festival (GPFF) here in Orlando.

“The festival started in 2003 – the year the Iraq War began and the motivation for it was in response to the war.  However, from the beginning, I wanted to present a positive vision of working for peace rather than being against the war.” Streich said.

14 years later, she’s still going strong, creating a strong presence of the festival in the Orlando community. She began when a Macanese businessman sought to bring light to the Muslim religion and show that it was a religion of peace rather than war. The Iraqi War (2003 – 2011) first began around this time, and many grew wary of Muslims in general. Given the suggestion to use films as a means of spreading the message of peace, the Global Peace Film Festival was born in Orlando.

Streich was hired as she had already curated several film festivals and she too wanted to spread the word of peace. Excited, she began working on organizing and directing GPFF.

Nowadays, organizing comes naturally to her as the 15th annual festival continues on from Sept. 19-24.

There’s been bumps along the way this year with cancellations and postponements due to Hurricane Irma. The Mount Dora Festival that was supposed to take place was cancelled as those were the days the festival was supposed to take place. Communication has also been difficult due to hurricane-related power outages as some organizers only recently had power restored to their homes. This would directly correlate to flooding in a warehouse that held the GPFF’s programs that would have informed people of the days and locations of the festival.

Despite all of this, Streich continues to stay positive in pushing the festival forward with panels, screenings and exhibits.

She hopes to continue the peace outreach that comes as a result of the festival to different parts of the world. In earlier years, smaller festivals partnered up with the GPFF in Japan and and other countries. It even encouraged the creation of a Nepalese Film Festival. Eventually she wants these festivals to come back and continue the positive work that they have nurtured in each community.

As she encourages everyone to attend the festival, she wants the main message of the festival be everyone’s focus:

“We want to inspire and motivate audiences to want to take positive action based on the film they’ve seen.”

To learn more about the last couple days of the festival and the upcoming events click through to their website.

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Kristen Wong
Kristen is a student attending the University of Central Florida and is currently studying journalism with a minor in history. She was born and raised in Orlando and has a strong desire to learn more about cultural diversity, especially pertaining to the Asian community. She strongly believes in the education of diversity among individuals with different backgrounds for the benefit of the community as a whole. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, creative writing, volunteering and video games.