Reclaiming the Truth about Vietnam

By Robert C. Koehler

“From Ia Drang to Khe Sanh, from Hue to Saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans. Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest traditions of our Armed Forces.”

OK, I get it. Soldiers suffer, soldiers die in the wars we wage, and the commander in chief has to, occasionally, toss clichés on their graves.
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Opening Gitmo to the World

By Robert C. Koehler

To read Witnesses of the Unseen: Seven Years in Guantanamo is to run your mind along the contours of hell.

The next step, if you’re an American, is to embrace it. Claim it. This is who we are: We are the proprietors of a cluster of human cages and a Kafkaesque maze of legal insanity. This torture center is still open. Men (“forever prisoners”) are still being held there, their imprisonment purporting to keep us safe.

The book, by Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir — two Algerian men arrested in Bosnia in 2001 and wrongly accused of being terrorists — allows us to imagine ourselves at Guantanamo, this outpost of the Endless War.
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Dead Civilians and the Language of War

By Robert C. Koehler

Finally it comes down to this: Some people are expendable.

In certain parts of the world — where we and our allies are waging war — the expendable people come in two categories: terrorists (good riddance!) and civilians, whom we only kill if and when necessary, and whose deaths often elicit official apologies (if there’s no way to deny it was our fault).

Indeed, as Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, according to the Daily Beast, “There has been no change to our continued extraordinary efforts to avoid innocent civilian casualties.”
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Nukes and the Global Schism

By Robert C. Koehler

The United States boycotted the U.N. negotiations to ban — everywhere across Planet Earth — nuclear weapons. So did a few other countries. Guess which ones?

The international debate over this historic treaty, which became reality a week ago by a margin of 122 to 1, revealed how deeply split the nations of the world are — not by borders or language or religion or political ideology or control of wealth, but by possession of nuclear weapons and the accompanying belief in their absolute necessity for national security, despite the absolute insecurity they inflict on the whole planet.

Armed equals scared. (And scared equals profitable.)
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The Fire Burns, the Caldron Bubbles

By Robert C. Koehler

America serves up its news in a caldron from hell, or so it sometimes seems. The fragments are all simmering in the same juice: bombs and drones and travel bans, slashed health care, police shootings, the Confederate flag.

Double, double, toil and trouble . . .

Suddenly I’m thinking about the statues of Confederate generals taken down in New Orleans, the Confederate flag yanked from the state capital in Columbia, S.C. . . . and the secret flag the authorities can’t touch. Ray Tensing was wearing such a flag — a Confederate flag T-shirt — on July 19, 2015, while he was on duty as a University of Cincinnati police officer. That afternoon, he pulled over Samuel DuBose because of a missing front license plate. Less than two minutes into the stop, DuBose — a dad, a musician, an unarmed black man — had been shot and killed.
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The Infrastructure of Healing

By Bob Koehler

A door opened for me on a Wednesday afternoon, as I was trying to finish a column.

This is not a door I would have opened by myself. So the Tribune Company, for which I had worked as an editor for 14 years, opened it for me. The year was 2009, when financial disaster was commonplace and doors were flying open everywhere. In fact, the Trib had been undergoing a serious jettisoning of employees for the past year, but of course I felt secure. And then on that May afternoon, as I was about a dozen paragraphs into almost my five hundredth column . . .

“The desperation of our military efforts is showing around the edges of the carnage and tragedy.” I had written. “This past week has brought three official U.S. denials that we have done what eyewitnesses and/or other evidence indicates we did: a) used white phosphorous as a weapon against Afghan civilians; b) killed nearly 150 Afghan villagers in a sustained bombardment; c) killed a 12-year-old Iraqi boy as he stood innocently by the side of the road selling fruit juice.

“Note to David: Goliath’s vulnerability is the truth.”

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Democracy and Our Vulnerable Future

By Robert C. Koehler

It was a moment as tiny as marking a ballot — those two minutes of the second debate, when the presidential election hung suspended mid-diatribe and the candidates let go of their opponent’s flaws long enough to honor a bit of common humanity.

No big deal. Yeah, I know.

But as the thing winds down to the day of reckoning, and a sense of lost values and lost democracy overwhelms me — the election season is pure spectacle, full of sound and fury (signifying nothing?) — I find myself going back to those two minutes over and over, trying to understand why they hit me with such force.

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Budgeting the Good War, for 75 Years

By Robert C. Koehler

World War II never quite ended — it morphed.

Today we call it the status quo, or endless war, or we just don’t bother to notice it. Indeed, now more than ever we don’t notice it. It’s barely part of the 2016 election, even though we’re engaged in active conflict in half a dozen countries, toying with a relaunch of the Cold War with Russia and, of course, hemorrhaging, as always, more than half our annual discretionary budget on “defense.”

World War II has been going on for seven decades now and has no intention of ever stopping . . . of its own volition. But this year’s rocking electoral craziness — not just Hurricane Donald, but the unexpected staying power of the Bernie Sanders campaign — may well be the harbinger of transcendence. Apparently there’s another force in the universe capable of standing up to the American, indeed, the global, military-industrial status quo.

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Commander in Chief

By Robert C. Koehler

Maybe it’s the phrase — “commander in chief” — that best captures the transcendent absurdity and unaddressed horrors of the 2016 election season and the business as usual that will follow.

I don’t want to elect anyone commander in chief: not the xenophobic misogynist and egomaniac, not the Henry Kissinger acolyte and Libya hawk. The big hole in this democracy is not the candidates; it’s the bedrock, founding belief that the rest of the world is our potential enemy, that war with someone is always inevitable and only a strong military will keep us safe.

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Nuclear Standoff

By Robert C. Koehler

Values the size of Planet Earth are at stake, as the American presidential election grows ever smaller, ever pettier, ever more certain that rancor triumphs over relevance.

Can you imagine, let us say, an issue the size of global nuclear disarmament emerging in this race, somewhere between the groper tapes and the hacked DNC emails? What if — my God — we lived in a country in which such a matter were seriously and publicly discussed, not shunted off to the margins with a grimace and a smirk? The only thing that has mainstream credibility in this country is business as usual, which comes to us wrapped in platitudes about strength and greatness but in reality is mostly about war and profit and the destruction of the planet.

Meanwhile it’s three minutes to midnight.

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The Possible Future

By Bob Koehler

I sit here in a deep sort of writer’s block. Writer’s void. The black hole.

I want to write about restorative justice (and I refrain from capitalizing it just now because that deifies it and right now I can’t cope with something so big, so important; I have to bring it down to my size) … I want to write about restorative justice because I can’t think of anything bigger or better to do with my life than, well, save the world, or at least save my city, Chicago.

But I’m afraid. I won’t get it right. I won’t get all of it. Continue reading

Stop the Killing

By Robert C. Koehler

Maybe half a million dead, half a country — 10 million people — displaced from their homes, jettisoned onto the mercy of the world.

Welcome to war. Welcome to Syria.

This is a conflict apparently too complex to understand. The U.S. brokered a ceasefire with Russia, then proceeded to lead a bombing strike that killed 62 Syrian troops, injured another hundred — and gave tactical aid to ISIS. Later it apologized . . . uh, sort of.

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The Future Cries Out: ‘Water Is Life’

By Robert C. Koehler

The dogs growl, the pepper spray bites, the bulldozers tear up the soil.

Water is life!” they cry. “Water is life!”

This isn’t Flint, Michigan, but I feel the presence of its suffering in this cry of outrage at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. No more, no more. You will not poison our water or continue ravaging Planet Earth: mocking its sacredness, destroying its eco-diversity, reshaping and slowly killing it for profit.

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War vs. Democracy

By Robert C. Koehler

The paradox of democracy is that it depends on the integrity of those who have the most to lose if an election goes the wrong way — you know, the people in power.

That’s a particularly thorny dilemma when the “fourth estate” — the speakers of truth to power, the public’s counterforce against political hackdom — are basically corporate wimps who view their job as the voice of public relations for the status quo, the defenders of our conventional beliefs, e.g., that God’s in his heaven and America is the world’s oldest, greatest, most secure democracy.

But in 2016, even the mainstream media are trembling with uncertainty. As Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis recently wrote: “Now 16 years after the theft of the presidency in Florida 2000, and a dozen since it was done again in Ohio 2004, the corporate media is approaching consensus that it is indeed very easy to strip millions of legitimate citizens from the voting rolls, and then to hack electronic voting machines and computerized central tabulators to flip the official final outcome.”

I’m sure the party to thank for this late mainstream awareness that our computerized voting system is painfully vulnerable is Donald Trump, who has dragged the election process into territory more puerile, racist and reptile-brained than even the corporate media can tolerate.

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Reflections on the Anthropocene

By Robert C. Koehler

“However these debates will unfold, the Anthropocene represents a new phase in the history of both humankind and of the Earth, when natural forces and human forces became intertwined, so that the fate of one determines the fate of the other. Geologically, this is a remarkable episode in the history of this planet.”

This is a little too big to simply call “news.” Indeed, I can’t move beyond these words — especially that heart-stopper, “intertwined” — until I’m able to summon sufficient inner quiet and humility. Geologically, the paradigm has already shifted. How about spiritually?

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2014 Peace On Earth Film Festival Official Selections

The Peace On Earth Film Festival’s Review Committee was both challenged and elated to find that the quality and sheer volume of the 2014 POEFF Submissions caused us many hours of dialogue and contemplation until we were able to narrow the field down to 31 Official Selections out of 146 Submissions.

It is a highly remarkable and illuminating field, including subjects as diverse as: domestic violence, the fallout from the Fukashima nuclear disaster, compassionate hospice care for dying state prisoners, immigration, the treatment of children with mental illness, gun violence, agri-business and the environment, forgiveness following extreme acts of violence, and Arab – Israeli relations, just to name a few.

Our deepest gratitude to the filmmakers who make the festival possible through their courageous films. This festival is driven by a desire to give exhibition to filmmakers who make the difficult choice to create significant and daring films that, because of their subject matter, sometimes struggle to find distribution and a wide audience.

Please spread the word about the 2014 Peace On Earth Film Festival, being held on March 6 – 9 at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater, a free venue.

This festival and its films provide an opportunity for you to venture into the world, and discover what is really going on beyond your own backyard.

A FIRST: DFP-IB Community Movie Night – Locke Elementary School

The Peace On Earth Film Festival’s Dialogue for Peace Outreach Program sends warmest thanks to Josephine Locke Elementary School, Principal, Mr. Ortega, Vice Principal, Ms. O’Brien, and International Baccalaureate (IB) Program Director, Mr. Parker, teachers and student staff members for a wonderful night of POEFF films and dialogue chong qi gong men.

Kudos especially to Mr. Parker, for his immeasurable efforts to draw an audience that reached close to 200 students, parents and community members! Featured films, Out of the Rubble (ongoing ravages of Haiti earthquake), Ronan’s Escape (bullying), and Kindness Thought Bubble (treating each other with kindness, humanity & respect), generated heartfelt, thoughtful and inspiring dialogue – especially from the Locke students and their friends.

In keeping with the night’s theme of community and service, Locke teachers and staff made popcorn to raise funds for Haiti, and Mr. Parker gave a talk and presentation of his stirring personal experiences of volunteering in Haiti, just months following the quake. The students’ expressed appreciation for their lives, for what they have been given, and took up the challenge to do what they can to help others, starting in their own backyard.

The audience tackled the very difficult and very real challenge of bullying and its aftermath, following Ronan’s Escape. Mr. Parker challenged the students to “be the change” in their own school, to confront and speak-up when witnessing bullying. He reminded everyone that we can be part of the change toward kindness, respect and humanity, starting in our own school, our own home and our own community.

Participants departed the evening with their own self-made “prescription” of less negative choices and more positive choices, based on the Jen Ratio in Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Kindness Thought Bubble.

The next Dialogue for Peace IB Community Movie Night will be in mid-December at Locke from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., stay tuned here for the date. The December program will focus on POEFF films that tackle environmental themes. We can’t wait!

The DFP – IB Community Movie Night is an amplification of the Dialogue for Peace Outreach program currently in its 2nd of 15-Lessons/15-Weeks curriculum magnifying the mission of the International Baccalaureate Programme at Josephine Locke Elementary School, working with 8th graders and teacher Mr Will Bermudez.

If you’d like know more about the DFP-IB Community Movie Nights or the Dialogue for Peace Outreach program, visit our web site.

Or contact us at or call 773.273.1598.

POEFF Announces 2013 Submissions & Highlights Work of IVAW

POEFF Announces 2013 Submissions

It is a pleasure to share with you that the Peace On Earth Film Festival (POEFF) begins accepting submissions for the 2013 festival beginning July 1 through October 31, 2012. The 2013 POEFF will be held from Thursday, March 7 through Sunday, March 10, 2013, in the historic Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater.

Interested filmmakers should refer to our Filmmakers Page or Homepage for Guidelines for Submissions.

If you haven’t done so, I invite you to take a look at the outstanding films that were 2012 Official Selections. This was a landmark festival for us. 2012 marked the first year of an expanded four day festival, which also included Jerome McDonnell (host of WBEZ’sWorldview) as MC of Opening Night, two Student Voices for Peace Showcases, Q & A’s with all attending filmmakers whose films were Official Selections; and our first foray into live streaming – following the short documentary, #whilewewatch (2012 Special Selection), Tim Pool, one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year – Media Messenger of Zuccotti Park, and featured in #whilewewatch, spoke and took questions from the audience in the theater and via the internet, while being live streamed around the world.

2012 also included a compelling eight member Peacemakers panel, which included professionals and activists in the areas of juvenile justice, gun violence, the Occupy Movement and Arab-Israeli relations. One of the featured Peacemakers was Vince Emanuele, a veteran of the Iraq War and featured in On the Bridge, (Winner, 2012 Best Feature Documentary).

Highlights Work of IVAW

Eloquent and inspiring on screen and in-person, Vince and his colleagues from the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) were a powerful and enlightening presence throughout the festival.

We do our best as a festival to stay in touch with filmmakers and peacemakers as they continue their tireless work to create change toward peace, tolerance, communication and compassion. That is why we are honored to be able to share with you some highlights of the work being done by the IVAW since the festival screening of On the Bridge.


Chicago veterans have been complaining for a long time about the quality of care at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. Here are just some of the problems there:

  • Staff receives inadequate training in Military Sexual Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, and Traumatic Brain Injury. (They basically watch a webinar. That’s it.)
  • In-patient robe attire reveals too much of the body, making women veteran patients who have experienced past sexual violence feel exposed and vulnerable.
  • Many staff are not versed in the issues facing the current generation of veterans.

Teaming up with the Nurses’ Union

Through our organizing with various groups leading up to the NATO protests, we met representatives from National Nurses United (NNU). We learned that their members work at the VA, and they had concerns too. Safe staffing ratios at the VA were not being met, making the it an unsafe workplace for staff as well as for veteran patients. Together, we announced we would hold an informational picket outside the VA to let the public and patients know about our joint concerns. When the VA heard of our planned picket, they immediately asked for a meeting. They knew that veterans picketing in front of the VA would be bad publicity. Since then, we’ve had two meetings where they agreed to pursue considerable changes, based on joint recommendations of IVAW and NNU.

These changes include:

  • Increasing staffing levels for nurses.
  • Taking other services out of the women’s clinic, so that it is solely a  women’s space. (They’ve already done this.)
  • Hiring two new patient advocates to increase effective feedback of veteran patients.
  • Investigating into the unethical psychiatrist at the women’s clinic.
  • Ordering new robes for female vets (larger and less revealing).
  • Reviewing staff training and other policies to address our concerns.

The VA Director also agreed to meet with representatives of IVAW and NNU on a monthly basis until these issues are resolved. We have to keep the pressure on him to make sure he implements all the changes agreed to on paper. Our work at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago started off as a trial run of taking our Operation Recovery campaign from active duty military bases to the VA medical system. We’ve had great results so far, and now we have a model to use in other cities around the country.

We look forward to a 2013 festival filled once again with courageous and compelling films that serve to change the world – one film, one movement, one purpose – one heart at a time.

Peace, Milissa Pacelli

POEFF in Partnership with Free Spirit Media

The Directors of the Peace On Earth Film Festival and the Board of Directors of Transcendence Global Media, NFP, are proud to announce a partnership with Chicago’s own Free Spirit Media, for the 2012 Peace On Earth Film Festival and Dialogue for Peace Outreach Program. Free Spirit Media partners with schools and organizations to provide education, access, and opportunity in media production to underserved urban youth…

For the first phase of the partnership, the POEFF chose the fearless and provocative FSM film, Sounds of Freedom, for the 2012 Dialogue for Peace (DFP) Outreach Program in schools. In Sounds of Freedom, students from FSM at North Lawndale College Prep, take the audience on a journey from deep in Chicago’s inner city to the Arab Spring in Egypt, delving into what freedom means to different people. In January 2012, POEFF Directors will pilot curriculum specifically designed to Sounds of Freedom in a Chicago Public School.

We believe that films on the themes of freedom, social justice, nonviolence and tolerance, created by high school students, can have an immeasurable impact on their peers. FSM’s peer-to-peer approach to filmmaking addresses some of the toughest topics, while exploring nonviolent and peaceful alternatives.

The POEFF is proud to partner with FSM in order to highlight their outstanding work with underserved urban youth, and to support our mutual use of the medium of film to teach, to enlighten, and to speak out, and most importantly, to serve the greater good.

Stay tuned for the POEFF’s announcement of the second phase of our partnership with Free Spirit Media in 2012!

A Different Kind of Hero to Our Youth

Most young people have nothing to do with the violence that bleeds through our neighborhoods, yet the fascination with violence and gangster heroes saturates youth culture. But some of Chicago’s youth have met a different kind of hero, whose documentary film on life in Mozambique lifted them to a new level of awareness, inspiring core values of respect, compassion for others and a desire to make a difference. Now they have a chance to meet him in person.

Mozambican youth documentary filmmaker and AIDS orphan, Alcides Soares, at 16 years of age crafted a ‘grab your heart’ documentary taking us through the grimmest reality of daily survival, and Alcides’s search for his lost siblings. His film, Home Is Where You Find It, is part of a program that teaches compassion, tolerance, trust, and hope in education; as well as the possibility of a healthy and happy future oppblåsbar Ball.

Members of the Chicago media are invited to join Chicago Public School students and teachers at two life-changing screenings of Home Is Where You Find It. Now 21 years old, and leading a life far removed from his tragic youth, Alcides is in the city as part of the Dialogue for Peace Outreach Program. This is a unique opportunity for students to view the film, meet and dialogue with Alcides Soares, a different kind of hero.

Screenings in two Chicago Public Schools:

When: Monday, Nov. 21, 2011
Where: First Screening: 9:30-11 a.m., at Hendricks Community Academy Elementary (4316 S Princeton Ave, Chicago)
Second Screening: 12:45-2:15 p.m., Josephine Locke Elementary School (2828 N Oak Park Ave, Chicago).
The screenings are being presented by Dialogue for Peace (DFP), an outreach program of Chicago’s very own Peace on Earth Film Festival (, which is held annually each February at the Chicago Cultural Center. The DFP outreach to students in the Chicago Public Schools is an ongoing part of the festival, which makes its presence felt in the city year-round. “We use films to engage children in dialogue on nonviolent practices.” said film festival director Nick Angotti.

Brad Parker, National Board Certified Teacher, has said of the program: “Students really open up. That was the real power of the program. I feel that after the dialogue and discussion, the class became incredibly more teachable — because they understood each other so much more and they understood their common humanity.”

Home Is Where You Find It, which Alcides Soares, an AIDS orphan, made in 2006, with the help and encouragement of Law and Order SVU, Executive Director, Neal Baer, Chris Zalla (director) and other L&O, SVC cast members, is a 16-minute film about his efforts to reunite the siblings of his shattered family. It is also a tale of young people coping without their parents in deepest poverty. His message to Chicago students is never give up, have trust in yourself and hope in the world, life becomes better.

A Restorative Way of Life

Take a few minutes and read Robert Koehler’s profound and inspiring story, BUILDING COMMUNITY, BUILDING PEACE (released October 12, 2011 – It is somewhat difficult to read, as Bob reminds us of the horrors of gang violence and its tragic aftermath, using the senseless death of Fenger High School student, Derrion Albert. But as always with Bob and his stories, from dark despair he leads us to the light of solution. Bob’s story highlights Robert Spicer, the “culture and calm” coordinator at Fenger High School, and Spicer’s use of Restorative Justice practices to restore and build community.

If Restorative Justice and its practices aren’t a part of your life experience, you can also visit the website There you can view clips of Robert Spicer and other Restorative Justice Practitioners and the amazing RJ work they are doing in Chicago. This website will inspire you to learn more, and perhaps even encourage you to bring RJ into your community, work, school, home…begining a restorative way of life.

And finally, take a look at the powerful short documentary, Concrete Steel & Paint, a film about crime, restoration and healing (Winner, Best Short Documentary 2011 Peace On Earth Film Festival), by filmmakers Cindy Bernstein and Tony Herzia ( The film takes you into the center of the RJ process, slowly building to healing and restoration, as it is directly experienced by crime victims and offenders meeting inside prison walls.

I hope one or all three of the above motivates you to explore bringing Restorative Justice practices into your corner of the world. Sometimes simply learning about a successful and tested practice like RJ can move us to action for the greater good. Peace!

For More information on Restorative Justice Practices in Illinois:

Stopping the Bullying Madness

The winner of the 2011 POEFF’s Best Short Narrative and winner of the Student Choice Award for Most Inspiring Story was Ronan’s Escape, by filmmaker A.J. Carter, I am blogging about this outstanding and very disturbing short, because of the seemingly unrelenting media coverage of teen and preteen suicides. This is not a critique of the media coverage – this subject needs to be out in the light of day. I only hope that the media coverage continues and that bullying doesn’t become just another part of the human condition that is dysfuntionally accepted because “kids will be kids.” The madness of children being pushed to the brink and ending their lives because of bullying and gay bashing is just unacceptable – and should be unacceptable to all of us, whether we are parents, teachers, administrators, neighbors, or just someone walking down a street who witnesses a kid being taunted, bullied, or worse.

I highly recommend A.J. Carter’s film to get the anti-bullying dialogue going with both children and adults. Ironically enough, Ronan’s Escape uses very little dialogue, but the impact of this film is immeasurable. Ronan’s Escape overwhelmingly was voted the winner of the Student Choice Award for Most Inspiring Story at the 2011 POEFF’s Student Voices for Peace Showcase, in part because it stirred passionate discussion with the student audiences (a mix of grades 6th through 12th). You may be surprised to hear that the students didn’t need any adults providing solutions to the problem of bullying. The students were very clear: zero tolerance in schools; dismissal of students who bully, counseling for the victims and the bullies (many students felt that bullying is a learned behavior), and immediate action by families, teachers and administrators, no matter how big or small the occurrence. There was one more solution, perhaps the most potent: students taking responsibility to speak up and act when they are the witness of others being bullied. Report the incident and support the victim. Report and support…doesn’t seem too complicated. If young people in 6th through 12th grade can step up and shoulder some of the responsibility, I think the rest of world can too.

Start by screening Ronan’s Escape with the children who matter most to you, add their friends to the mix, invite the neighbor kid who seems to exist on the outside of the inner circle, talk to your school and community center about bringing the film there. And don’t be concerned about having all the answers…trust me, the kids already know the answers, we just have to show them that we are listening and that we care.

47th Chicago International Film Festival

The Peace On Earth Film Festival will be back at the Chicago Cultural Center, Feb 23rd through the 26th, 2012. In the immediate, if you are looking for something extraordinary in film and festival presentation, with a lot of what the POEFF brings you, you won’t want to miss the 47th Annual Chicago International Film Festival: October 6th through the 20th. The CIFF is one of the premier festivals in the world with 180 films, from 50 countries and over 45 films from first-time directors.

Here is but a few events – films, panels and Q&A/Interviews to watch for, functions we are planning on making:

One of my favorite comedy actor/directors, Jacques Tati, has been creating films since the early 1940’s. An Entertainment Weekly poll rated Tati 46th in the all time greatest movie director category. If “Holiday by the Sea” is anything like – and it certainly seems so – “Mr. Hulot’s Holiday” (Tati directed and acted), you will be gasping for breath, as the laughs are one on top of the other. Dutch director, Catherine Van Campen’s “Flying Anne” touches dear to the hearts of the POEFF’s dedication to the breaking down of assumptions, and fostering greater understanding. Anne is an amazing child who is also living with Tourette’s syndrome. “Flying Anne” is evocative of last years 2011 POEFF Best Feature Documentary, “Loving Lampposts”. “Loving Lampposts” was motivated by filmmaker, Todd Drezner’s son’s diagnosis of autism.

Don’t miss, An Evening with Haskell Wexler.

The images and impressions that find there way through the cinematographer’s lens into the dark rooms of our imagination, have been illumined by the genius of but a few greats; Haskell Wexler – a Chicago native – stands tall at the top of this very short list, with such notable films as Who’s Afraid of Virginia WoolfIn the Heat of the NightOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Thomas Crown Affair.

Panel discussions are an integral part of the Peace On Earth Film Festival, and the CIFF seems to be offering – and for reasonable entrance fees – several panels that have peeked our interest: Art as Activism, Black perspectives/Building a Community, New Models of Distribution, and Social Media: Spreading the Word and more.

For more information on the CIFF/Home:

We look forward to seeing you there, Nick

On Fire for Peace!

I hope everyone in the vicinity of the Chicago area will join Master of Ceremony, Nick Angotti ( Exec. Director and Co-Founder), of the Peace On Earth Film Festival and the Chicago Build the Peace Committee, at the PEACE DAY CELEBRATION, at the R.J. Daley Center Plaza, on Friday, September 23, noon to 1:00 p.m. The Chicago Build the Peace Committee presents a Call to Peace, with world music, cultural performances, speakers and a ceremony including flags of the world.

This free annual celebration speaks to all races, cultures and beliefs, in the possibilities for all of us to live together in peace. Peace is possible, but it takes all of us doing our part in our own little corners of the world. One way those of us in the Chicago area can do our part is by simply showing up and supporting an event like this one. The collective presence of like-minded people is a powerful force for change.

If you need to light a fire under yourself to show up for peace on Friday, take a read of our friend Bob Koheler’s latest article: Bob is an amazing writer who conisistently burns through the bs to the truth.

Read up and see you Friday!!

I am Peace

Three days after the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, I stood in my kitchen at 5:30 a.m., preparing my lunch for the day, when suddenly I was struck by profound feelings of sadness and fear. It had taken a few days, but the reality and reminders marking the 10th anniversary finally made their way through me. As the tears fell, there was a familiar feeling of helplessness about the world filtering through my thoughts.

The images and words of the week leading up to the anniversary, and in the days that followed, were suddenly very fresh and very disturbing, in the dark before the dawn inside of my kitchen. I thought, “What can any of us do?” At that moment, as my mind replayed images of family members seeing the Twin Towers Memorial for the first time; I heard: “I let go of fear. I am peace.” These two statements repeated inside my head again and again, almost as though they were being whispered to me…until I heard myself saying them out loud – very quietly at first, and then with a steady almost chanting cadence.

I let go of fear. I am peace.

Perhaps if every day we could each make an attempt to let go of fear – in all of its forms: anger, hatred, intolerance, prejudice, judgment, jealousy, violence, injustice…we could find that place of peace within ourselves that can not only heal us, but can serve in healing the entire world. Because then there would be one less person in the world feeding fear; choosing instead to plant and nurture seeds of peace in their mind and heart. When we let go of all the myriad versions of fear, we radiate with energy far more powerful — peace — and its countless variations: harmony, love, goodness, compassion, forgiveness, understanding, tolerance…

In the Peace On Earth Film Festival’s Dialogue for Peace Outreach Program, we use several profound peace quotes to inspire participants to contemplate, dialogue on, and imagine through art, a world where a particular peace quote is a constant reality. One of those quotes is from Ghandi: Be the change you wish to see in the world.

I think perhaps that is what happened this morning. When one remembers the immeasurable hurt and harm we have visited upon each other and the earth, and asks the question: “What can any of us do?” The possible answer is: I will start with me. And I hope that you will start with you…I let go of fear. I am peace…

Please join the Peace On Earth Film Festival in its peace outreach and peace partnership programming, spreading the festival’s mission year-round in the Chicago community and the world…

We are so excited to start spreading the word about the 2012 Peace On Earth Film Festival, as well as the many community and school-centered programs that we share for free year-round.

POEFF’s Dialogue for Peace in Chicago Public Schools:

To kick things off, we are pleased to announce that on Peace Day, September 21st , in cooperation with Build the Peace Committee, Chicago ( and The Peace School ( the Peace On Earth Film Festival’s Dialogue for Peace Outreach Program has been specially packaged for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) here in Chicago. CPS teachers will be able to select from three Peace On Earth Film Festival Selections, along with our curriculum to inspire and encourage solution-oriented dialogue on peace and nonviolence starting in the classroom. The three films selected by the POEFF Directors that can be downloaded from our web site are Love Your Enemies by Kristen Miller, 2010 POEFF Animation Selection, Flags by Mattan Cohen, 2011 POEFF Student Selection; and Namaste by Sarah Miller, 2010 POEFF Student Selection.

POEFF at Chicago Children’s Museum:

In addition to the Dialogue for Peace Outreach for CPS during Peace Week, Kristen Miller’s film, Love Your Enemies will also be playing in a continuous loop at the Chicago Children’s Museum on Thursday, September 14, from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., as part of the Museum’s Children and Families Event, which is part of related Peace Week activities.

POEFF’s Dialogue for Peace at Rainbow Beach for Roots & Shoots

On Saturday, September 17, Nick Angotti will be bringing Dialogue for Peace to RainbowBeach, from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., 3111 E 77th Street, for Peace Day events that are part of the Jane Goodall’s youth organization, Roots & Shoots. 2010 POEFF Student Selection, Hunger for Change will be featured in two 45 minute Dialogue for Peace workshops presented by Nick. Hunger for Change is a Free Spirit Media film, created by students at Chicago’s North Lawndale Academy High School, focusing on food desserts in Chicago’s inner city neighborhoods. In addition to Dialogue for Peace, other peace workshops and activities for students, adults and families will be presented.

POEFF at Chicago’s PEACE DAY Celebration

Friday, September 23, 2011   Noon – 1:00 pm
Daley Plaza, 50 W Washington St. Chicago

POEFF Exec Dir/Co-Founder, Nick Angotti, is to MC Peace Day Celebration at Daley Plaza, Sept 23, noon to 1:00pm. The Build the Peace Committee presents, a call to peace, with world music, cultural performances, speakers, and flags of the world.


The Peace On Earth Film Festival is a Co-Sponsor of PeaceWeek 2011It’s totally free and features people like Alice WalkerDeepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Arun Gandhi, Michael Bernard Beckwith, Daniel Goleman, Jane Velez-Mitchell, James O’Dea, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Avon Mattison, Grandmothers Mona Polacca and Beatrice Long-Visitor Holy Dancer and many more. Calls are recorded so you can catch up with ones you miss.

Join us!