Seniors use films to promote peace

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – A recent Peace Film Festival here screened nine movies over four days in a retirement community of 10,000 residents. The setting was the new Peacock Theater at Rossmoor. The Rossmoor chapter of Grandmothers for Peace sponsored the event.

The festival got off to a roaring start with the documentary “Seniors for Peace.” This film depicts residents of The Redwoods in Mill Valley, Calif., where the average age is 87. Every week these folks – many in walkers and wheelchairs – participate in a spirited peace demonstration at the intersection near the retirement home.

Three of these residents made the trip from Marin County to Contra Costa County to help open the festival. One woman said, as part of the panel discussion after the film, “I’m old enough now that I don’t have to be afraid to speak my mind and work for peace.”

Classic war movies such as “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “Oh! What a Lovely War” were shown to full capacity houses. The Australian film “Breaker Morant” was especially powerful. Perhaps the film that most moved viewers was the beautiful Japanese animated film “Graves of the Fireflies.” Set in Kobe under fire from American firebombs during WWII, it is the emotional story of a brother and sister attempting to survive.

The festival concluded with “Wag the Dog,” a particularly pertinent film for today, with its tale of a manufactured war crisis. Over the four days of the festival, more than 100 people joined Grandmothers for Peace.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org.