The 4th annual Awareness Film Festival awarenessfestival.org is a dynamic multi-day multi-media event in Santa Monica that promotes greater awareness of a variety of world issues. Bringing together filmmakers, artists, educators, environmentalists, alternative health practitioners and other industry professionals, the Awareness Film Festival aims to inspire the public through this engaging, entertaining and unique annual event in the film capital of the Western Hemisphere.
Themes represented in this year’s films include: green and eco-friendly living, homelessness, gang/felon reform, veterans’ issues, cancer survival, GMOs, marijuana policy reform, couch-surfing communities, pilgrimages, mental health stories, vision loss, women’s issues; stories of hope, the arts, spirituality, current events and much more. Film presentations will be accompanied by filmmaker Q&As with talent in attendance. World premieres include 420: The Documentary, Authority and Expectations, C — A Celebration of Life, Medium, Conscious Love, Charity, as well as 30 other features and 45 shorts from 17 countries. Many films are award-winning, and many others are new to the festival circuit.
The festival’s must-see films are described below in brief, presented in the order they will be screened during the festival from Thursday, July 25 through Sunday, July 28, 2013. Festival prices range from FREE panels and select FREE screenings, to $11 for individual pre-sale tickets, $14 at the door, to $175 for VIP festival passes. Click here for ticket purchase.
Femme Opening Night Thursday 7/25 7:30 pm Aero Theatre
Women’s Issues – A documentary featuring interviews with 100 important and influential women around the world, from Religion, Spirituality, Science, History, Politics, Philosophy and Entertainment. The project is directed and produced by a well-established world journalist and filmmaker, Emmanuel Itier. His last directorial effort ,“The Invocation,” a documentary about God and World Peace, has been successful and well received all over the world.
Authority and Expectations World Premiere FREE! to Veterans Friday 7/26 7:00 pm Promenade Playhouse
Veterans/Anti-War – Smart and provocative young veteran, Wray Harris, reveals some of the sufferings caused by serving in the War in Iraq. The truth that our troops are full of Harrises: eager patriots irrevocably transformed by meaningless combat. In an all-night conversation with Harris (whom the director met at a demonstration at which Harris was speaking) Authority and Expectations walks the wiretapped road to Wray’s apostasy. For fourteen months, Harris fought in Iraq, invading, interrogating, and deteriorating. This film includes footage of the 20-year-old in tears on base; of gunfights and body scoops; of a Humvee on assault; of a mosque under attack. The depth of his various depictions leaving our senses like the streets of Baghdad, forever changed.
Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey Award-Winning Friday 7/26 7:00 pm Magicopolis
Himalayan Pilgrimage – Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey is the adventure of 700 courageous open-hearted souls trekking across the Himalayas to spread a call to action. LA filmmaker Wendy Lee joined her sister on the historic walk. With 15,000 glaciers, the Himalayas has fallen victim to a barrage of freak weather disasters caused by rapid glacial melting as global temperatures rise. Battling the harshest mountain terrain on the planet, the trekkers move from village to village to educate locals on environmental preservation and living responsibly. Surviving injuries, illness, and starvation, the trekkers emerge with 800 pounds of plastic waste scattered across the mountain collected on their backs, and memories to last several lifetimes, having ignited an environmental movement never before seen in the Himalayas. With stunning cinematography and sensitive narration by actress and activist Daryl Hannah,Pad Yatra is an adventure you won’t want to miss.
Genetic Roulette Award-Winning Saturday 7/27 1:00 pm Magicopolis
Dangers of GMOs – This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future.
Hungry for Change Award-Winning FREE! Saturday 7/27 2:30 pm Promenade Playhouse
Healthy Eating – Hungry for Change exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight-loss and food industries don’t want you to know: deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more. Find out what’s keeping you from having the body and health you deserve and how to escape the diet trap forever. The film Features interviews with best-selling health authors and leading medical experts plus real-life transformational stories with those who know what it’s like to be sick and overweight. Learn from those who have been there before and continue your health journey today.
California Winter Award-Winning Saturday 7/27 3:00 pm Magicopois
Real Estate Crisis – In 2005 Clara Morales begins a rising career in real estate by encouraging risky loans to her clients so they could afford houses above their means. Loans she didn’t fully understand. She even advises her father to take out such a loan. But with the onset of the 2008 housing market crash, Clara’s father’s house goes into foreclosure, and Clara must now save her childhood home.
420: The Documentary World Premiere Sat 7/27 5:00 pm Magicopolis
Marijuana Policy Reform – Seven young people (representing the nation’s ‘youth’) question why our government is still arresting people for mere possession of marijuana, even though our last three presidents as well as a number of politicians all smoked pot in their youth. Interspersed between a blitzkrieg of footage from massive 420 civil disobedience festivals loom ironic statements from politicos who continue to misrepresent the truth — supposedly out of concern for the very youth who have fallen prey to marijuana prohibition laws. In turn, 420 spotlights stories of college students (and others) who have been arrested, shot by police and even murdered for mere possession of pot. 420 explores the history of pot – from the 1930s to the present day and outlines how the public has been duped by false propaganda and political agendas. Peppered throughout the film are numerous law enforcement retirees who share shocking commentary and outspoken regret over a policy they helped enforce, only to realize it was a tragic mistake they hope to reverse.
C — A Celebration of Life World Premiere Saturday 7/27 6:00 pm Promenade Playhouse
Cancer Portraits – “ You have cancer“… these are three of the most terrifying words in the human language, words that even bring even the strongest of people to their knees. Meet 12 survivors, all in different decades of life, with different ethnic backgrounds and different cancers, who have been through the battle and come out on the other side, stronger, happier, and with a greater zest for life. The film includes inspiration from people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s words of wisdom–and if you ever wondered whether there is life after cancer, just listen to 106-year-young double cancer survivor Saramae Landers sing, “I ain’t got no bananas.” Hear the stories of how this group of individuals won the fight of their lives, see the treatments firsthand that helped them do it, and find out how the experience forever changed them. Let them tell you about the opportunities that have come about because of their encounter, and get their secrets to victory over “The Big C.“
Conscious Love World Premiere Saturday 7/27 8:00 pm Promenade Playhouse
Examination of Love – Conscious Love is a compelling and comprehensive discussion of Love, which invites viewers to examine the implications and potentials that love offers, both personally and globally. Filmmaker Ajah-Denise C. Fambo-Demarteau depicts love–one of our most human and powerful choices–through multiple points of views and first-hand interviews. Here the question is asked: Can we find real inspiration as well as opportunities to understand and act, with conscience and consciousness in thought and action; and be guided by the Essence of LOVE? Can we, in our individual lives and group relationships, elevate ourselves, as well as those we share our lives with, by embracing the Consciousness of LOVE? Unique and uplifting this documentary considers these thought-provoking questions.
Talking Story Award-Winning,West Coast Premiere Sunday 7/28 11 am Santa Monica Laemmle
Healers – Talking Story chronicles the lives, rituals and wisdom of healers and spiritual leaders from diverse group of cultures around the world. Its unique approach of utilizing the personal journey humanizes the fight for cultural preservation and the importance of maintaining Perceptual Diversity—the unique ways in which each culture perceives the world. Talking Story is told from the vantage point of Marie-Rose Phan-Lê, an apprentice healer born in Vietnam and educated in the West. The film transports the viewer into a world of exotic places, sacred practices and practical applications in the art of healing.
Wings of Life Sunday 7/28 11 am Santa Monica Laemmle 4-Plex
Nature Videography – Filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg’s documentary employs macrophotography in order to show moviegoers a world in front of our eyes but the likes of which we may have never experienced. The secret lives of bats, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bumblebees come to life as Schwartzberg and his talented team highlight how the determination and interdependence of these diminutive creatures keep our chaotic world in balance. The film is narrated by Meryl Streep.
Medium World Premiere Sunday 7/28 3:00 pm Promenade Playhouse
Spirituality – Medium is about Nela, a person who hears voices and suffers because of this. Yet there are others like her, begging the question: Are they all having hallucinations? Or could be that there are other realities that the majority of us are not capable of noticing? Closing our eyes to this possibility is the answer that the world has given to these people. But little by little things are changing: Medium is about that change.
Beauty and the Breast Award-Winning, West Coast Premiere Sunday 7/28 3:30 pm Magicopolis
Cancer Portraits – A first-time documentary filmmaker offers a compelling insight into a devastating reality of breast cancer, as seen through the eyes of several female patients, helping demystify the disease while painting poignant and often humorous intimate portraits of survival. The film depicts the process of learning and accepting the terrifying verdict, and details the complexities of every stage of this disease. All interviewed patients have different experiences living with mutilated bodies while still maintaining strength. This film is both invaluable as a testament to human resilience as well as proving that it is possible to blossom in the face of adversity. As the fight continues, the wisdom and beauty within us can help us conquer the beast until we find the cure.
Charity World Premiere Sunday 7/28 4:30 pm Promenade Playhouse
Narrative – Charity is the beloved nice girl — always donating her time and herself, volunteering and helping charities. She is doing the right thing with a kind and giving heart, while maintaining her school’s highest marks. Even after she and her bestie Liam are bullied by the “in” crowd, she takes on tutoring star basketball player, Jackson, to save him from a team suspension, which also means she has to deal with his girlfriend, the “Queen of Mean.” The three seem to be becoming fast friends, frustrating Liam, as Charity spends all of her time with Jackson…until one kiss sets off a chain of events, leaving Jackson dead and Charity in jail for murder.
G-Dog Award-Winning Sunday 7/28 5:00 pm Aero Theatre
Gang and Felon Rehabilitation – G-Dog is what the homies call the popular LA-based priest. The film of the same name introduces us to Father Greg Boyle, a white Jesuit priest who’s spent some 25 years in the toughest part of East LA, and the tough, street-smart, and amazingly sweet young people — all former gang members — whom G-Dog loves and helps. Father Greg uses a radical but simple remedy for what he calls a global sense of failure for kids: boundless, restorative love. He works by a powerful idea: Nothing Stops a Bullet like a Job. Over the years his unstoppable compassion has turned around the lives of thousands of Latino, Asian and African American gang members creating Homeboy Industries, an international model for rebuilding and redirecting the lives of gang members. The film is often hilarious and astonishing.
My Way to Olympia Sun 7/28 6:00 pm Promenade Playhouse
Paralympic Games — Film director Niko von Glasow undertakes a journey to athletes, who compete at the Paralympic Games in London 2012. He himself is a short-armed avowed hater of sport who cannot understand how anyone could take on such an odeal voluntarily. Even more since everyday life for people with a disability is most often challenging enough. He meets U.S.archer Matt Stutzman, Norwegian table tennis player Aida Dahlen, German swimmer Christiane Reppe, Greek boccia player Greg Polychronidis and a Sitting Volleyball team. Niko neither spares the athletes nor himself asking questions about life, sport and fears. With an ever growing appreciation for sport Niko attends the Paralympic Games and travels back to the ancient city of Olympia, where everything began and where boccia playing is prohibited.
One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das Award-Winning Sun 7/28 7:30 pm Magicopolis
Kirtan Performer — In 1970, Jeffrey Kagel was living every teenager”s dream. He was offered the chance to record with a rock band, the soon-to-be Blue Oyster Cult. Instead, he sold all of his possessions and moved from suburban Long Island halfway across the world to India, where he studied under Neem Karoli Baba. In Jeremy Frindel”s beautiful feature film debut, Kagel searches for happiness and fulfillment. Jeffrey struggled over the years with depression and drug abuse. After the death of his mentor, Jeffrey turned to music to help get his life back on track. Emerging as Krishna Das, he became a world-renowned chant master and spiritual leader, helping to bring what he had learned to the West.