Monday, September 28, 2009

Global Peace Film Festival

I went to Baldwin Park to see a free outdoor screening of "Playing for Change" at the Global Peace Film Festival. As usual I arrived a bit early and I walked around the main drag of Baldwin Park to enjoy the night life. I like the fact that many shops are open to the street so you can watch people doing martial arts dancing or taking a dance aerobics class. What great sketching opportunities! I got myself a drink, found the outdoor screen and waited for the crowd to arrive. When the film started I was surprised that only 2 or 3 people were sitting on the grass lawn in front of the screen to watch. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that Americans would not find a film about peace worth watching. To take in the scene I decided to sit across the street leaning up against the corner of a Subway's shop. This was the best place to watch the few people that stopped on the sidewalk to watch. Metal post barricades jutted up to help keep terrorists from slamming a truck into the small park, disrupting the screening. A woman was canvasing passers by trying to get them to sign a petition.
I let the film music wash over me as I worked. My attention was often on details of my surroundings so I only watched the film in small bursts. A female singer from Tel Aviv Isreal always caught my ear and made me look up. Toward the end of the film a story was told that hit me like a wall of bricks. One of the performers in the documentary passed away after the film was shot and his grieving wife was busy packing his belongings in boxes, so she could try to move on with her life after his death. One day by mistake she pressed the wrong button on her TV remote control and a DVD started playing that showed her husband playing with musicians from around the world for this film. These musicians had never met before but they stood united in the belief that music could help bring peace to the world. She saw her husband happy and joyous doing what he loved. He was part of something greater than himself. Rather than remembering him sick in bed, she now rejoiced in the memory of him playing music. The next song played, and had me sitting on the street corner with a sketchbook in my lap emotionally overwrought. "One love, One heart, lets get together and feel alright." I rubbed my tired eyes and oil from my skin caused them to burn. I wiped away the tears with my sleeve. I tried to open them again to continue painting but they still burned. I sat quietly on the street corner with my eyes closes and waited for peace of mind. When I opened them again the end credits were rolling.
The film ended with a quote from the Dali Lama:
"Never give up; No matter what is going on, Never give up.
Develop the heart; Too much energy in your country Is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Develop the heart. Be compassionate; Not just with your friends, But with everyone. Be compassionate. Work for peace; In your heart, And in the world. Work for peace. And I say again, Never give up. No matter what is going on around you, Never give up. "

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at