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

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